Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Church leaders call for investigation into police shootings

Church leaders in the Philippines have called for an independent inquiry into a police shooting at a protest march on the southern island of Mindanao. On 1 April 2016 three protesters were killed, 116 were wounded, and 89 reported missing after police dispersed approximately 6000 farmers blocking a highway in Cotabato province. The protesters were demanding the government release funds earmarked for drought relief for farmers hard hit by this year’s El Nino weather patterns. “We demand accountability of the part of the authorities who ordered the police to open fire,” read a statement by the Ecumenical Bishops Forum, adding: “We call for an independent investigation by a competent authority to determine accountabilities.” The government’s Commission on Human Rights stated the evidence they had seen so far indicated the police had used excessive force. “The farmers were already on their knees when shot by policemen,” Erlan Deluvio, the commission’s Mindanao regional director, said in a statement. “We were able to gather information, witnesses and affidavits sworn under oath. We have a formal report,” he said, adding the government’s failure to provide relief to the farmers was “negligence” and a “violation of human rights.” Writing on his Facebook page on 3 April 2016, the Presiding Bishop of the Philippine Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Renato Abibico, said: “What kind of father you are if your child ask for bread and you give him a snake. What kind of government you are if your people ask for rice and you rain them with bullets. Justice for the Kidapawan farmers.”

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