Eight women farmers from Hermosa, Bataan went to the Department of Justice (DOJ) office in Manila on Wednesday to seek help in connection with the syndicated estafa case filed against them.
The eight, including four senior citizens, met with Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla to discuss the case.
"'Yung hinaing lang nila na mga kaso na ginagawa, 'yung weaponization ng batas. Matagal na naming pinaglalaban 'yan. Sinasabi ko nga, the law should not be used as a weapon to make people settle disputes," Remulla said in an ambush interview.
(We discussed their grievance which is the weaponization of the law. We have been fighting against this for a long time. As I've said, the law should not be used as a weapon to make people settle disputes.)
The farmers and other organizations earlier protested before the DOJ and called for the dismissal of their case, which was filed by a private company.
According to Remulla, he informed the farmers that the DOJ will look into their case.
"Kaya ang sabi ko lang, pag-aaralan namin 'yung mga kaso na ipapataw sa mga tao na para sila'y palambutin. 'Yan ang trabaho namin talaga dito, mag-dispense ng hustisya," he said.
(I told them we are studying the case. That is our job, to dispense justice.)
Judy Pasimio, spokesperson for human rights group iDEFEND, said the farmers were happy that their stories were heard.
"So 'yun pa lang ay ikinasaya na ng mga magsasaka dahil for the first time may nakinig sa kanila mula sa gobyerno. At ang ipinangako ni Secretary Remulla ay pag-aaralan niya ang kaso kasi nasa DOJ na," she said.
(The farmers were happy because, for the first time, a government official listened to them. And Justice Secretary Remulla promised to study the case.)
iDEFEND earlier said the women farmers were agrarian reform beneficiaries in Barangay Sumalo in Hermosa, Bataan.
"Private companies, such as the plaintiff in the case against the Sumalo farmers, take on such an active role in criminalizing the struggle of the agrarian reform beneficiaries that they result in the violation of human rights," the group said in a March 3 statement. —KBK, GMA Integrated News