Protesters wear sad masks for MassKara

By Carla Gomez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:42:00 10/07/2008

BACOLOD CITY – Instead of masks with happy faces identified with the city’s ongoing MassKara Festival, about 100 persons donned masks with sad faces and picketed the Bacolod Police Station to demand the release of five farmers arrested during the recent visit of President Macapagal-Arroyo to Bacolod City last week.

The five workers of Hacienda Paraiso in La Carlota City and Hacienda Grande in La Castellana owned by Antonio Arroyo, uncle of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, were among those demanding the immediate distribution of the Arroyo lands in Negros Occidental under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, TFM spokesperson Edna Sobrecaray said on Monday.

Police Station 1 is located in front of the Bacolod public plaza where the city is celebrating its 29th MassKara Festival known for masks with smiling faces.

The protesters carrying placards said they were wearing masks with sad faces to symbolize the agony of the farmers detained instead of receiving land that the President had promised them in 2001.

The police Thursday filed multiple charges against the five arrested for interrupting Ms Arroyo’s speech at the opening of the MassKara Festival in Bacolod City on Wednesday.

Supt. Leo Erwin Agpangan, Bacolod City Police Office deputy director for operations, said they filed charges against Hermegildo Padilla, Everlito Alguna, Bonifacio Alguna, Noel Estaris Jr. and Gerardo Batalla for inciting to sedition, alarm and scandal and resisting arrest before the City Prosecutor’s Office.

The five were with about 20 protesters, including Bagong Alyansang Makabayan members, who unfurled banners with anti-Arroyo messages just as the President was starting her speech before about 5,000 people.

“We will continue to hold daily protest actions until the police release five farmers from detention. We condemn their arrest. They do not deserve the charges against them,” Sobrecaray said.(PDI)

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