Thursday July 19, 2018

Duterte orders police: Disperse DSWD-Davao picket

DAVAO - Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio ordered the police to disperse the picket staged by Typhoon “Pablo” victims who looted Tuesday relief goods from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional office.

The picket, which started Monday afternoon, also turned violent early Wednesday when police battled typhoon survivors. Five cops were hurt and two protesters were arrested.

Duterte-Carpio said she was giving Davao City Police Office (DCPO) Director Ronald Dela Rosa "blanket authority to do whatever needs to be done to end it as soon as possible."

"If rallyists resort to violence, I told him (dela Rosa) to use force to quell the violence and arrest as many as they can," the mayor said in a text message to Sun.Star Davao.

The mayor said authorities need to modify their actions from giving the protesters full consideration to usage of an "iron hand" after the crowd "organized a mob and lawlessness."

Angry protesters
DAVAO. Angry protesters, who claimed to be victims of Typhoon Pablo, engage in a brawl with personnel of the Davao City Police Office, who are out to disperse them and recover relief goods they earlier seized from the regional office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. (King Rodriguez)

The City Government of Davao provided protesters with "lugaw" on Monday night and early morning Wednesday.

But Duterte-Carpio also ordered the police to recover the sacks of rice and food packs earlier seized by the protesters from the DSWD office.

Dela Rosa and Public Safety and Security Command Center chief Magno Adalin successfully recovered the sacks of rice and food packs around 6 p.m. Tuesday. The relief goods were brought to the DCPO office.

"Kadto lunch was not intended for them (protesters) dapat sa pulis to, but ning apil sila ug kuha. Nothing more to follow, mao na ang agreement namo ni dela Rosa," the mayor said.

The City Government also dispatched two buses for the protesters. The buses left Tuesday night filled with residents from Mati City and Compostela Valley.

Duterte-Carpio said free-ride was also extended at the Davao City Overland Transport Terminal until Wednesday morning, adding they also readied empty buses under the command of Retired Colonel Desiderio Cloribel, Traffic Management Center chief.

But Sheena Duazo, spokesperson for Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Mindanao Region (Bayan-SMR), denounced the deployment of buses for the protesters.

She said it was a "heartless" act from Duterte-Carpio to provide buses and disperse the Typhoon Pablo survivors.

This did not sit well with the mayor, who was asked to comment.

"I'm just solving the problem that they created. Firmly reminding them not to do their drama in Davao while I am still mayor. Maghulat sila ug July 1," Duterte-Carpio told Sun.Star Davao.

"Perwisyo mo lang. Of course, clearly backed by militant groups. Bayan Muna organized a mob and lawlessness through the group Barug Katawhan," she added.

In a press conference on Wednesday, lawyer Lilibeth Ladaga of the Union of Peoples' Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) said accusing militant leaders as people behind the forcible entry inside the DSWD on Monday remains to be an allegation.

"Pag busog ka? Masulsulan kaha ka? Ibutang sa position nga maglisud ka? Maghigda sa dalan?" Ladaga told reporters. "Ang implication na gigamit sila, nga wala silay buot, arogante na kaayo para ingnon na nagpagamit sila, nagpasulsol sila."

Lawyer Joel Mahinay of UPLM said the filing of case should not be high lightened on what happened, but on the human rights of the Typhoon Pablo victims who joined the picket that may had been violated by the authorities.

"Nakita namo nga dunay gyud istoryahan diri nga human rights. Dili ta mag focus sa listahan (distribution list). Kinabuhi na sa tao ang hisgutan diri. Ma-address na unta kay ubos na ilang dignidad. Tamparus na kayo para sa ila na magpagamit," Mahinay said.

"Sa ato man gud na balaod, in case of doubt, dapat naa gyud ang doubt sa mga tao nga kulang ug kakusog. Kulang ug empowerment. Dili ta diri sa impunity. Dapat tan-awon nato kung naay kasipyatan sa tao, gobyerno," he added.

Mahinay said it is not right to tag the incident as "ransack."

"Dili mi dapat mo-define ana. Term siguro na siya sa DSWD o sa pulis, pero kung pangayuon side sa rallyists, nag account sila. Ginapangayo nila ang saad sa ila. Naghulat sila atubang sa DSWD na ma-account sa ila ang goods na gi-promise sa ila," he said.

Protester leaders also lambasted Mayor Duterte-for issuing the dispersal order.

"Exactly. Mayor Sara keeps on saying na illegal ni amo ginabuhat. Ginaagi niya ug technical ang mga tao diri and legal terms or laws apan wala siya nagtanaw na kining naa diri biktima sa Typhoon Pablo, mga nanginahanglan ug tabang," Duazo said. "Wala'y kasing-kasing si mayor, na unta wala man mi nangita ug samok diri ug dili man pud siya ang among tumong kundi ang DSWD man. Dili unta siya manghilabot kay nangayo ra man mi ug tabang."

Edil Gonzaga, spokesperson of the Transmission-Piston, said they will not be moved in their position unless the DSWD will face them and provide the needs of the survivors of the Typhoon Pablo.

But Duterte said she made her decision to disperse the picket and sent those buses for the sake of the protesters.

"Gutom sila, wala sila restroom, wala sila makuha sa DSWD. Based on the City Health Office, after three days, magsugod na daw ang mga diseases ana. Hulaton pa ba nako na naa’y magkasakit sa ila or worse, mamatay sa ila bago ko muingon na mas maayo pang muuli sila," the mayor said.

Duterte-Carpio, referring to Bayan-SMR, said she is just solving the problem that leaders of the protest created.

As of Wednesday, the picket continued in front of the DSWD office, with some 770 law enforcers from the DCPO, Task Force Davao, and Police Regional Office (PRO) securing the area.

Dela Rosa said they are exerting maximum tolerance in order to resolve the problem.

The picket Wednesday hurt five policemen and two civilians, after the protesters had their human barricade outside the DSWD around 9 a.m., disallowing the police and soldiers to enter the area.

Superintendent Caezar Cabuhat, chief of Sta. Ana Police Station, said they are yet to identify those wounded.

"What happened yesterday (Wednesday) morning was...bale ang tropa nagdala na sila'g food packs papasok sa area when the protesters had their barricade para dili makasulod ang mga pulis ug sundalo sa DSWD. Kadtong nag pull out na ang tropa para makalma ang situation, naa lang kalit nilupad na bato, ug didto nagkagubot na jud nuon," Cabuhat said.

He said the two wounded civilians were among the protesters, adding they were the ones who first threw stones against the law enforcers while the others hit the police on the different parts of their bodies.

Cabuhat said one of the protesters tried to disarm one of the policemen deployed in the area.

"Sa karon, gipatambalan pud nato sila sa hospital before nato sila dalaon sa prisuhan because of what they did. Most probably we’ll file charges of direct assault against them," Cabuhat said.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman also said Wednesday that the typhoon survivors will face the consequences of their protest.

"We respond to the exigency of public service at great cost to ourselves and our families. That we are now being subjected to harassment is deplorable. This will leave us no choice but to pursue legal action against those who are responsible," Soliman said in a statement.

The DSWD chief also appealed to the leadership of Barug Katawhan, the group of Pablo victims who looted relief goods and sacks of rice, and its allied groups not to use the people for their own political agenda.

"We are willing to resolve these issues, and serve those who are in need. We need not engage in counter-productive propaganda war," Soliman said.

Typhoon Pablo (international codename: Bopha) battered the Davao Region in December of last year, leaving at least a thousand people dead.

Soliman said the seized relief goods by the protesters had been allocated for victims of Typhoon "Crising" in Davao del Norte.

She said Barug Katawhan had ignored the call of DSWD Regional Director Prescilla Razon to dialogue over the issue and opted to continue its protest outside the agency's office.

The Social Welfare Secretary had agreed to provide 10,000 sacks of rice to people that Barug Katawhan claimed to have been deprived of government service. Soliman, however, said that the group has yet to submit a list of beneficiaries and the distribution plan for the relief packs.

"What was submitted to DSWD was a list of repacking areas and the names of people who agreed to have these places used as distribution site. DSWD has checked with at least two of those in the alleged list, and they denied that they agreed to have their places used as repacking areas," she said.

A party-list lawmaker, meanwhile, called on Congress to immediately investigate the alleged mishandling of calamity funds for the typhoon victims. (With Kathrina Alvarez/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)