Kin of slain young farmer flee from Kidapawan home
The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines -- The family of Darwin Sulang, the young Manobo farmer killed during the violent April 1 dispersal of protesters in Kidapawan City, reportedly fled their home in Arakan town after their dwelling was cased by unidentified men and news that soldiers were reportedly looking for his father, human rights groups said Thursday.
In a related development, 10 of the 77 farmers who were detained and charged with direct assault -- a handful have also been charged with frustrated homicide -- over the dispersal were freed on bail Thursday evening, Karapatan and the Solidarity Action Group for Indigenous People and Peasants, or SAGIPP, said.
The two groups, which have been helping victims of the dispersal, including the arrested protesters, said the Sulang family sought refuge from church and human rights groups on Wednesday after they “received news that members of the Philippine Army are looking for Ebao Sulang,” Darwin’s father.
Darwin, who was shot in the head when police fired shots during the dispersal of the human barricade thrown across the Cotabato-Davao highway by thousands of farmers and lumad demanding relief from a months-long drought, was buried beside his home in Sitio Kawayan, Barangay Malibatuan, Arakan on Tuesday.
Before the funeral, Karapatan and SAGIPP, quoting Ebao, said that from midnight to around 3 a.m. Tuesday, “the Sulang family was disturbed by two unknown men walking around their house.” The family feared the men were armed.
These events were preceded by the April 6 visit to the Sulang residence by Cotabato provincial board member Kelly Antao and Lito Palma, reportedly from the office of Governor Emmylou Talino-Mendoza, who “tried to convince the family not to file criminal charges against the governor and the (police), and offered P100,000.”
“The family refused the offer,” the human rights groups said.
They said the offer of cash and the subsequent threats against the Sulangs “is clearly part of the government’s underhanded moves to dissuade the family from pursuing countercharges and to cover up the accountability of state forces and government officials in the Kidapawan carnage.”
On Thursday, the arrested protesters, among them farmers still recuperating from gunshot wounds, several elderly and three pregnant women, were arraigned before the Kidapawan trial court.
They included three accused of direct assault with frustrated homicide: Gerardo Pequero, 66, Crisanto Carlum, 72, and Mark Anthony Delgado, 33, who has a gunshot wound in the right foot.
Earlier, individual donors -- including several show business personalities -- and support groups helped raise the P526,200 needed for the farmers’ bail.