Anakpawis Rep mulls House probe vs. CMU

MALAYBALAY CITY – Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano has considered a possible House inquiry on Central Mindanao University for alleged violations, including the attack of its security guards to protesting occupants of a portion of the latter’s area in Musuan, Maramag, Bukidnon.

Mariano filed House Bill no. 1480 seeking the conduct of a House investigation of the alleged violations done by CMU and its security guards.

In a press conference on June 22 in Valencia City, he expressedsupport for the members of the Bufallo Tamaraw Limus (BTL) Association to continue leasing about 400 hectares even after the contract and a subsequent extension has  already expired.

The farmers have pushed for another extension of four more years and a relocation afterwhich. They also pledged to pay P4,000 per year per hectare. CMU on the other hand offered to lease only for P1 per hectare per year but only for three years, and no relocation at the end of it.

This led to the farmers Kampuhan or protest at the main gate of the university since May 23 up to date, cut shortly only by the attack of CMU guards on June 14 to demolish the protesters tents leaving six protesters hurt. Three security guards were held under police custody but released a day later of an affidavit that even the complainant-farmers admit to be faulty, as it was rushed.

Mariano said he will lead opposition if BTL farmers will be evicted from CMU without relocation. CMU and BTL officials, he added, must talk and discuss for “mutual terms and conditions.”

Mariano told reporters he understood the budget cut on state colleges and universities.

But the issue of quality education and BTL (livelihood and relocation), which concerns about 800 families, he said, should not be compromised.

He reiterated, however, that his party list will support CMU for quality education.

But Mariano, at the same time warned of the possible House probe of CMU over its security guards’ alleged attack on BTL protesters.

He added that some members of the police and Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) would also be included in the investigation because of their alleged human rights violations on BTL farmers.

Mariano said he expects congress investigate the alleged human rights violations “in aid of legislation.”

Jose Benemerito Jr., BTL spokesman claimed they were and are victims of human rights violations.

He added that they are considering filing charges against CMU officials, who he said “must be accountable” for the guards’ attack.

But Benemerito said they will spare the guards from the complaint as they were only following orders.

CMU president Ma. Luisa Soliven told Bukidnon News last week there was no order to shoot or attack the protesters. But she admitted there was an order to dismantle the tents on the ground that the protesters’ permit to rally has already expired.

She went to Manila last week to attend a meeting with the CMU board of regents but she has yet to announce the outcome of the meeting where, she told Bukidnon News, she would recommend an eviction of the farmers from CMU property.

As of June 25, the farmers have suspended their protest. (Walter I. Balane)

See this story also in: www.Bukidnon News.com

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