BTL shooting victims sue CMU president

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/10 August) – Peasant organizations united under the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) have filed charges against the president of Central Mindanao University (CMU) in connection with the bloody dispersal of protesters in front of the university’s main gate almost two months ago.

Members of the Buffalo-Tamaraw-Limus (BTL) Farmer’s Association – Winnie Loable, Marilou Portin, Gregorio Santillan, Billy Jardin and Jose Benemerito – filed an administrative case against CMU president Ma. Luisa Soliven at the regional office of the Ombudsman here last Monday.

“She has made it clear that under her leadership they will eject us by hook or by crook,” said BTL spokesperson Benemerito.

The militant farmers’ group is also set to file a criminal case against George Gewan, chief of the Chevron Security Agency hired by CMU, for qualified robbery and attempted homicide, among others.

It can be recalled that in the morning of June 14, 40 Chevron security guards open-fired at BTL members camping out at the university’s main gate, seriously injuring five. Witnesses said Chevron guards also dismantled their tents and arbitrarily confiscated their personal belongings.

“We condemn in the highest degree the harassments, confiscation of our farm implements committed to our members by the CMU administration and its hired goons—the Chevron Security Agency,”

Richard Colao, spokesperson of KMP-Northern Mindanao, said his group “condemns in the highest degree” the harassments and confiscation of farm implements by the CMU administrations and its “hired goons,” referring to Chevron.

For her part, Karapatan-Northern Mindanao Region chair lawyer Beverly Selim-Musni said their presence at the Ombudsman on Monday was to express solidarity with the peasant groups. Karapatan is an alliance of individuals, groups and organizations working for the promotion and protection of human rights.

She said that justice has still eluded the victims almost two months after the incident. “We are here to remind Soliven she is a government employee and should behave as such,” Selim-Musni stressed.

Other progressive groups also escorted the BTL shooting victims,

Members of the women peasant organization Amihan, Misamis Oriental Farmer’s Association (MOFA) and Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) came to accompany the victims and held a silent protest outside the Office of the Ombudsman. (Cong B. Corrales / MindaNews)