Cayetano to PNP: release all illegally detained Kidapawan farmers
Vice presidential bet and Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano strongly urged officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to immediately release all illegally detained farmers who were arrested by the police after a violent dispersal of a protest rally in Kidapawan, North Cotabato.
During a hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Thursday, Human Rights Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana said based on their initial probe, pregnant women and senior citizens were among those who were arrested by the PNP.
She added that the farmers have been detained for a week after staging a protest to demand assistance from the government amid the worsening El Nino phenomenon that has severely affected their livelihood.
Cayetano, for his part, questioned PNP officials over the validity of the arrests. He stressed that the police should have released the protesters after the complaints were filed since the court has yet to issue warrants of arrest for them.
“Are you holding them illegally? What is the basis of your detention order? You are not allowed to detain people for more than 36 hours unless there is a court order,” Cayetano told police officials.
“I find it hard to believe that pregnant women and senior citizens are brave enough to spearhead attacks against the PNP,” he added.
The senator also questioned police personnel for failing to follow proper procedures in enforcing the dispersal. “What we cannot understand is how this can happen under this Constitution and this government. Noong panahon ng Martial Law, normal siguro ‘yan,” Cayetano stressed.
“The law states that firearms are prohibited in any dispersal operation. Pero bakit may dalang baril ang ilang units doon sa dispersal? You’re only allowed to use non-lethal weapons to protect lives from both sides. Kung walang baril doon, walang namatay,” he added.