Forty farmers, including four of their leaders, were arrested in Lucena, Quezon while on a protest action Oct. 21 on the occasion of peasant month.
About 200 protesters, mostly farmers, were holding a six-day farmers’ camp out in front of Don Domingo Reyes’ mansion in Brgy. Cotta, Lucena when the Philippine National Police-Lucena dispersed them with water canons at 10:30 a.m., said Imelda Lacandazo, vice chairperson of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines). The farmers were fighting for, among others, a “just harvest sharing agreement” between the landlord and farmers and their right to the land they have been tilling in the 13,000-ha. hacienda owned by the Reyes family.
The protesters who belong to the Pinag-isang Lakas ng Magsasaka sa Quezon (Piglas-Quezon or United Peasants of Quezon), Kalipunan ng Samahang Magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan-Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Kasama-TK-KMP or Federation of Peasant Organizations in Southern Tagalog-KMP), and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance)-Southern Tagalog have just finished a caravan that concluded in Mendiola on Oct. 20.
Lacandazo said the protesters who took refuge at the St. Ferdinand Cathedral were again “violently dispersed” by members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT)-Lucena at about 3:30 p.m.
Forty protesters were taken to the PNP headquarters in Lucena while many others were hurt, said Doris Cuario, secretary-general of Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights)-Southern Tagalog. Among those arrested was Domingo Escemilla, general secretary of Piglas.
The protesters tried to regroup at the cathedral but the SWAT at the church’s compound did not allow them to enter despite the bishop’s permission, said Lacandazo.
Lacandazo also said that they were being forced by the police to board four jeepneys and would be taken to a nearby military camp.
Cuario said that as of 5 p.m. of Oct. 21, no charges have been filed against the farmers. She also said that they would consult their lawyers since no inquest proceedings are done during weekends.