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Heavy security irks Consulate protesters

15 April 2016

By Vir B. Lumicao
Bayan Hong Kong chairman Eman Villanueva
denounces the heavy police presence at the Consulate

Migrant workers denouncing the recent killing of three farmers and wounding of scores in a police dispersal in Kidapawan, North Cotabato were upset when more Hong Kong police than they expected were posted at the Consulate lobby during their rally on Apr 6.
At least 15 uniformed and undercover police officers were around when the rally which started at 11 am got underway in the 14th floor lift lobby of United Centre.
Speakers demanded to know why the North Cotabato local government did not use a P238 million calamity fund to help the farmers whose lands were ravaged by drought. Instead, police and soldiers dispersed the farmers who staged a protest with water cannons, truncheons and bullets.
“This is inhumanity. This is fascism. The ones who have violently dispersed the hungry farmers are without mercy,” the rally organizer Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines said in a statement.
The protesters were joined by Aglipayan, Anglican and Methodist ministers, LegCo Member Leung Kwok-heung and representatives of 14 other migrant groups.
Father Dwight de la Torre read two statements from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente Hong Kong Fellowship and the Iglesia Filipina Independiente condemning the violent dispersal of protest that killed three, injured 116, and left 89 missing.
“This is unconscionable, This is condemnable…All they wanted was for the Philippine government to provide them assistance during the long spell of drought,” the statement said.
A joint petition signed by 17 groups and individuals in Hong Kong was handed to Vice Consul Fatima Quintin who came out to meet the group.
Before this, Bayan Hong Kong chairman Eman Villanueva protested the unusually heavy police presence during the rally.
“There are more police than protesters here. I think the Consulate should rescind its policy. You do not need to invite so much police presence here. We have been doing this protest action for decades and never did we commit any violation or destruction of property here,” Villanueva said.
He said the protesters were there to condemn the police armed assault on the hungry farmers asking for food.
Quintin struggled to explain to Villanueva why there were more police officers in the consulate lobby this time than in previous protests staged by the same group.
She said it could be because the officers saw Leung join the protest, she said.
Later, Quintin said it was not the Consulate that asked for heavy police security. She said the police as usual arranged the security when the protesters applied for a rally permit the day before.
In previous rallies, only about six officers would go up to the lobby with the marchers.

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