COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 04 September) – Seven members of the House of Representatives from the Bangsamoro Region have called for a joint inquiry in aid of legislation on the killing of nine Muslim farmers in Kabacan, North Cotabato last August 29.
House Resolution 1183 filed Wednesday by the seven lawmakers called on the committee on public order and safety and the committee on Muslim affairs to look into the alleged involvement of policemen in the massacre the victims of which included two minors.
The resolution was introduced by Representatives Esmael Mangundadatu, Mujiv Hataman, Amihilda Sangcopan of AMIN Party-list, Yasser Alonto Balindong, Munir Arbison, Rashidin Matba and Ansaruddin Abdul Malik Adiong.
“The recurrence of reports of alleged illegal practices committed by the law enforcement agencies especially affecting the Muslim population has become alarming and leads the people to believe that these are systematic and institutional failures, requiring a comprehensive review of the existing criminal justice system and law enforcement procedures and protocols being implemented in the country,” the resolution said.
“We are truly heartbroken and outraged with the death of the farmers who were reportedly ordered to alight from their motorcycles while traversing the road along Aringay Road proximate to the University of Southern Mindanao campus,” Mangudadatu said.
Police investigation revealed that the gunmen flagged down the victims and shot them with high-powered firearms. Eight of the victims died on the spot while the ninth died in the hospital.
Witnesses said the perpetrators demanded IDs from the victims.
Mangudadatu also said an agency other than the police should investigate the incident.
“I’m personally calling for an immediate and thorough investigation of this case. This tragedy is truly painful for the victims’ families. It would be sadder and troubling if it’s true that police officers were behind the crime,” the lawmaker from Maguindanao’s second district said in Filipino.
“It’s also timely to thoroughly examine how the police run the country’s justice system, as well as its processes and protocol. It’s about time that we closely evaluate this before matters take a turn for the worst,” he said.
He cited that police and military officials are also being used by politicians either willingly or unsuspectingly to carry out hatchet jobs and illegal activities.
“As legislators, let us also find ways to end the stigma where policemen are called ‘criminals in uniform’. I believe that a good number of law enforcers are willing to join this cause and are willing to uplift and restore respect to their insignia,” he said.
Mangundadatu lost his wife and two sisters along with 55 others in the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan Massacre.
Of the 197 suspects in the carnage, 52 were policemen, 19 of which were found guilty while 33 were acquitted. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)