MANILA, Philippines - The communist National Democratic Front (NDF) on Saturday accused former president Benigno Aquino III of human rights violations during the bloody dispersal of protesting farmers in North Cotabato.
It also sought Aquino’s “arrest” and trial before a “people’s court,” ABS-CBN reported.
On April 1 last year, farmers in Kidapawan were protesting the lack of government assistance amid the harsh El Niño weather phenomenon when authorities ordered their dispersal. Two farmers were killed while scores of protesters and police officers were injured in the resulting melee.
The NDF-Southern Mindanao claimed Aquino committed “war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international human rights law” relating to the dispersal.
Also tagged in the allegations were North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista, North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco, and other military and police officials.
The group said it has “prescribed the arrest of said respondents,” and the respondents “be meted out with appropriate penalties” after due trial by a “People’s Court.”
Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
President Duterte is leaving it to the courts to decide whether Aquino is liable for the violent dispersal in Kidapawan last year.
He maintained that he would be responsible for the incident if it happened under his watch.
“I am ready to be imprisoned. If you include Aquino, it’s okay. We will be in different cells,” the President said.
Duterte said the food at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center, where former senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. are detained, is “like a feast.” Both men are on trial for their role in the pork barrel scam.
“Mahirap man ako, makiano na lang ako kay Noynoy (I’m just poor. I will just eat with Noynoy),” he said in jest.
The PNP Civil Security Group, which secures high-ranking government officials, declined to immediately confirm if additional security personnel will be provided to Aquino following NDF’s announcement but presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said measures are being undertaken to ensure the safety of the former president and other officers.
He also refused to recognize the “indictment,” noting that there is only one government and justice system in the Philippines.
“Only the appropriate body can rule on the issue of the violent dispersal of farmers in Kidapawan,” Abella said.
Rubi del Mundo, NDF Southern Mindanao spokesperson, said the indictment “effectively prescribed the arrest” of the “respondents.”
“The indictment recommended that (they), after due trial by a People’s Court, be meted out with appropriate penalties for having committed the above-mentioned acts constituting war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violation of international humanitarian law and human rights law,” Del Mundo said in a statement.
Maoist rebels have been waging an armed struggle against the Philippine government for nearly five decades, making it the longest-running communist insurgency in Asia.
The NDF represents the communists in the peace negotiations with the government that resumed in the Netherlands yesterday.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Año urged the public to condemn the group and the crimes it has committed against Filipinos as he described the New People’s Army, NDF’s armed unit, as “evil terrorists and extortionists who impede national growth.”
He said the public should condemn all the communist atrocities and anti-development activities and report attempts at extortion so law enforcers and soldiers could act and proactively assist victimized citizens.
WATCH VIDEO BELOW:
SOURCE: YOUTUBE, PHILSTAR