INTERIOR and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos said he has directed its regional and provincial offices to investigate the alleged harassment against an onion farmer in Pangasinan by cops.
In a statement, Abalos ordered the DILG Region 1 and DILG Pangasinan to submit a report about the incident involving policemen in Bayambang.
“Mataas ang respeto namin sa mga magsasaka dahil mahalaga ang papel na ginagampanan nila sa seguridad ng pagkain at maayos na nutrisyon ng ating bansa,” Abalos said.
“Kaya asahan ninyo na kaisa ninyo ang DILG sa adhikain ng ating Pangulong Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. para sa sektor ng agrikultura, kasama na ang pagtutok sa mga programang ikauunlad at aalalay sa mga magsasaka,” he added.
Abalos reminded authorities to observe the rule of law and protocols in conducting investigations to prevent fear among concerned individuals.
Merly Gallardo, an onion farmer who appeared at a recent Senate hearing, said police have visited her house on different occasion for her to sign a statement in connection with the death of her husband.
“May kaunting mali. Sinabi doon hindi nalugi si Tatay.
Gallardo believes her husband committed suicide as a result of financial losses related to their onion production.
Senator Imee Marcos said she had received information that the police went to the house of Gallardo and other onion farmers to investigate the reported suicide of five farmers.
According to Marcos, the farmers were being pressured to sign a document indicating that they were retracting their statements made during the Senate investigation on high onion prices.
Philippine National Police (PNP) public information office chief Police Colonel Redrico Maranan said the Bayambang Police only followed the directive of the DILG Pangasinan to validate the reports of suicide.