Dialogue with Ambassador Jaime Victor B. Ledda Regarding the Kidapawan Massacre

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A delegation of Filipinos visited the Philippine Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands to present a letter to President Aquino through HE Jaime Victor B. Ledda concerning the massacre of farmers in Kidapawan, North Cotabato. The presentation of the letter was preceded by a dialogue on the concerns of the Filipino community on the issue which included among others the immediate release of assistance to the farmers of the drought affected areas, the investigation into the massacre and that justice be given to the victims. This letter is posted below.

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President Benigno Aquino III
Malacanang Palace
Philippines

7 April 2016

Dear President Aquino,

Filipino organizations in The Netherlands and the Dutch community at large are enraged and shocked by the Kidapawan massacre on April 1st. We condemn in the strongest way the violent attack on peaceful unarmed protesters in Kidapawan, North Cotabato.

Suffering for months of drought due to El Niño, poor farmers cried for your government’s assistance but little help arrived. Seeing the hunger of their children and their families amidst the lack of assistance, farmer and Lumad communities made their journey to Kidapawan to make their just cry for government assistance known.

On March 31 they drew attention to their demands. Specifically, they called for 15,000 sacks of rice for six municipalities for the duration of the drought, until farmers are able to recover. The following day however, the police conducted dispersal operations and shots were fired at the protesters killing at least three and injuring some 116. Eighty-nine have been reported arrested while dozens others are reported missing.

We hold your government responsible for this crime.

The government weather bureau had already warned that this El Niño is the “strongest in modern history” and will be prolonged well into the middle of 2016. After two years of failing to deliver sufficient support to the drought affected communities, government neglect forced the starving farmers and Lumad communities to conduct the protest actions in Kidapawan.

Filipino and Dutch organizations in The Netherlands stand with the poor peasant and Lumad families in their cry for JUSTICE, their demand for rice and other calamity assistance, and their struggle for economic and social justice. In solidarity, we demand that the incumbent government of Benigno S. Aquino III:

1. Conduct an immediate and independent investigation of the massacre;
2. Release protesters illegally detained by the PNP;
3. Immediately distribute the rice support and other calamity assistance to the drought-stricken communities;
4. Relieve from duty police officials involved in the violent dispersal and shooting of farmers pending an impartial investigation;
5. The investigation of Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza and all local officials accountable for the massacre; and
6. The Manila government respect the basic fundamental right of its citizens to freedom of association and assembly, and to come to its defense and aid when disasters have deprived them of their basic needs.

Bigas hindi Bala !
Justice for the victims of the Kidapawan massacre !

Signatories:

MIGRANTE- Den Haag
MIGRANTE- Amsterdam
LINANGAN – Willem Geertman Art and Culture Network
Filipino Refugees in The Netherlands (FREN)
Netherlands -Philippine Solidarity Association ( NFS)
Pinay sa Holland – GABRIELA
Kabalikat
Samaka
Patriotic Association of Filipinos in the Netherlands (MKSP-NL)
MIGRANTE-Europe

c/o Grace Punongbayan
Coordinator
MIGRANTE-Europe
Postbus 15687
1001 ND Amsterdam
cp no.: 0633056411

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