PROGRESSIVE human rights group Karapatan blasted an article published in Philippine News Agency (PNA), depicting rally organizers as evil for supposedly abandoning rallyists during the State of the Nation Address (Sona) protest, July 22 in Bukidnon.
In a statement posted on their Facebook page, Karapatan called the article an "obvious propaganda depicting the Army as heroic and good samaritans and rally organizers as evil and cold-hearted."
"When the article claimed that ‘Early birds were welcomed by singing soldiers who were ahead in the Capitol grounds,’ it actually means the soldiers blasting loud music and trying to prevent the rallyists from conducting legal and peaceful assembly," the statement said.
The group said the soldiers blocked the road with their trucks, preventing rallyists from conducting the program where it was first scheduled.
The group however did not deny that some protesters were given food by soldiers, but added they "deserved it since it was paid by the taxes of the people".
"We challenge the Philippine Army to focus on investigating abuses by their soldiers in Bukidnon and other parts of the country instead of wasting their funds in these baseless propapaganda. It would also be for the benefit of the Filipino people if they stand up against China's intrusion in Filipino territories, instead of training their guns against civilians," the group added.
Army's 403rd Infantry Brigade said some 70 participants invited to a protest action against the 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday were seemingly abandoned and left hungry by organizers, prompting the Army to give them food and water.
"The soldiers shared bread and canned soft drinks to the rally participants while waiting for their leaders. Little did they know that the snack shared by the soldiers will be their last meal for the day. Worse, they were later given instruction by the rally leaders to vilify the soldiers," the army added.
The army said the rallyists were bused in from rural villages to hold their protest inside the Provincial Capitol grounds in Bukidnon.