Press Release
February 20, 2009


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today urge the committee on agrarian reform to summon two officers from the Pasay City Police who allegedly ordered a team of police officers to block a contingent of farmers from the Visayas from coming to the Senate last Monday to appeal to the senators for the passage of a bill that would address the inadequacies of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

Pimentel said the farmers were already in front of the Film Center on their way to the Senate when they were prevented from proceeding to their destination reportedly upon order of Chief Inspector Segundo Lagundi and another police officer identified only as Diaz on his nameplate.

"That, to me, is abuse of power. And obviously, we cannot allow extraneous forces to prevent our people from coming to the Senate. Otherwise, they will determine who will be our audience in this chamber, thereby undermining the independence of the Senate," he said.

He said the two police officers must be required to appear at the hearing to be called by the committee to look into the grievances of the farmers who have been pressing the government for the grant and distribution of farmlands they are tilling under the CARP. The committee was also tasked to investigate the anti-riot policemen's violent dispersal of a peaceful protest-rally by the same group of farmers on Mendiola, the gateway to Malacañang, on Feb. 12.

Pimentel said the coming of the landless farmers to the Senate had earlier been cleared with him and the Senate Secretariat. He said the Pasay city policemen stubbornly refused to let the farmers pass through on the ground that they had no rally permit.

He said the policemen ignored the explanation of members of his staff that they had in fact been invited to the Senate to personally ventilate their grievances and to listen to his privilege speech on the brutalities inflicted upon them by the police during the dispersal of the Mendiola rally.

The policemen likewise did not bother to coordinate or verify matters with the Senate officials, including the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms.

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