By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – All 76 farmers who were arrested in the bloody Kidapawan dispersal have been released after posting bail today, April 16.
Seventy-four of the 76 were released 2 a.m. today, while two others– Ruben Carlos Mangga and Ponciano de la Pena Paunil — were freed later in the morning. The latter two were inadvertently missed out in the release order, said the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) in a statement. Others were released or bailed out earlier this week starting April 14.
The 76 were among the 5,000 farmers whose barricade in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato was shot at by police dispersal teams. Police have charged three of them with frustrated homicide, while the rest were charged with direct assault.
Celebrity couple Aiza Seguerra and Liza Dino led the raising of funds to bail out the farmers.
Sarah Villamor of NUPL and Karapatan paralegal workers in North Cotabato have been working on the bail process and directly facilitating actual release.
“They will rest, settle down and consolidate, reunite with families and supporters, vet their judicial affidavits and testimonies and prepare for legal battles, both for the defensive and countercharges,” the NUPL said.
The NUPL said it has received information that two seriously injured farmers, Darwin Magyao and Alfie Awe, were forcibly taken by police from the hospital and detained in a police station. The two farmers were reportedly fetched by the vehicle of the Arakan mayor which brought them to the police station, despite their pleas to be brought to the Spotswood Methodist Compound, where the farmers sought refuge after the violent dispersal.
The Senate is set to resume its hearing on the Kidapawan dispersal on April 20 here in Manila.
The Kidapawan court has set a hearing on the motion for reconsideration, after junking the farmers’ motion to quash on April 25. The pre-trial conference of the three accused in frustrated homicide is set on May 4.
At least two were killed in the bloody April 1 dispersal when state security forces opened fired at the protesting drought-hit farmers.