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COTABATO KILLINGS: COPS OPEN FIRE ON PROTESTING HUNGRY FARMERS  [THEY DON'T HAVE ANY MORE FOOD. The drought damaged rice, corn, banana, rubber, coconut, oil palm and vegetable planted by small farmers in over 27,500 hectares in Kidapawan City and the towns of Arakan, Antipas, President Roxas, Magpet, Makilala, Tulunan, M’lang, Matalam and Kabacan – all in North Cotabato.]


APRIL 2 -Hungry and battered. A farmer from Mindanao is helped after he was injured when the police broke up their protest at a highway in Kidapawan City on Friday aimed at seeking government assistance to ease the impact of a prevailing drought. KILAB MULTIMEDIA THREE farmers were killed and at least 53 others were injured when police seeking to break up a three-day protest along the Cotabato-Davao highway fired their M-16 rifles into the crowd. Sixty more farmers, who were demanding food aid amid a worsening drought, were missing. In the aftermath of the bloody dispersal, protesters sought refuge at the nearby Spottswood Methodist Mission Center, fearing for their lives. Kidapawan Mayor Joseph Evangelista said the leaders of the protest would be arrested the moment they stepped out of the center. “They committed a crime; we should prosecute them. They cannot just go out of the Methodist center and walk scot-free. They have a responsibility to account for [what happened,]” he said. The mayor added that police were also injured during the dispersal, some of them critically, and that not all of those at the barricades were farmers. On Wednesday, some 6,000 farmers suffering from drought brought about by the El Niño phenomenon blocked a portion of the Cotabato-Davao highway to dramatize their misery and to prod the government to action. The protest in front of the National Food Authority warehouse stranded hundreds of vehicles and commuters on both sides of the 220-kilometer freeway connecting Cotabato and Davao. The farmers and city officials blamed each other for the bloody incident. Negotiations with North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza failed after the governor refused to give into the farmers’ demand for 15,000 sacks of rice as food relief in the face of a drought. READ MORE...RELATED, Police open fire on protesters, kill 3 in North Cotabato (Mindanao Examiner)...

ALSO: Not about farmers! Kidapawan violence 'Politically motivated, NPA instigated’ - AGRI Sec Alcala told Philstar


APRIL 3 -According to Alcala, Piñol’s brother is running against reelectionist North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño, who is backed by the Liberal Party. Philstar.com file
The violence-marred Kidapawan protest blockade was not about farmers’ gripes over alleged lack of government support for their losses due to El Niño, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said yesterday. Rather, Alcala said it was politically motivated, and the violence was instigated by left-leaning groups backed by the New People’s Army (NPA). Alcala pointed to local politicians in Mindanao identified with the group of Manny Piñol who are supporting the presidential bid of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
According to Alcala, Piñol’s brother is running against reelectionist North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño, who is backed by the Liberal Party. “The reality on the ground at Kidapawan is that it’s politically motivated by the local politicians led by Piñol,” Alcala told The STAR. “Our brothers from the Left, who were observing the NPA anniversary last March 29, instigated the breakout of stone-throwing that led to the violence during the dispersal,” Alcala added. Based on field reports, Alcala noted that the militant farmers’ group led by Rafael Mariano of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) brought the farmers and fisherfolk to the highway with the alleged promise that they would receive sacks of rice from the governor. Alcala said that “this is an issue of misinformation. They intentionally misled the local farmers regarding the supposed distribution of rice.” Alcala was in Nueva Vizcaya when the police dispersal turned violent at Kidapawan, where two farmers reportedly died. “It’s really sad that this had to happen. I think the problem was that these people made the farmers get angry at the government to stir up violence,” the agriculture secretary said. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Manny Piñol - To the family of the dead and wounded: I'M SORRY, I TRIED MY BEST, BUT I WAS ONE STEP BEHIND


APRIL 1 -Manny Piñol FB COVERPHOTO -To the families of the farmers who were killed and wounded and the policemen who were injured in the violent dispersal of the 5-day-old rally in Kidapawan City today, please accept my heartfelt apologies and condolences. I was sadly one step behind in the turn of events. If only I was able to do something earlier, things may not have turned bloody and deadly. To correct the erroneous interpretation of my presence in the rally area this morning, allow me to share the true story. Last night, I had a meeting with Presidential frontrunner Rody Duterte which lasted until about 12 midnight in Davao City. Two of the very important issues I raised during the meeting were the forest fire which was destroying the centuries-old forests in Mt. Apo and the 4-day-old rally of farmers and militant groups in Kidapawan City. I told Duterte that the farmers' rally was getting to be a serious problem because it was not only paralyzing business in the capital city of Kidapawan but it was already affecting everybody because of the closure of the national highway. It was because of this that I asked Duterte to drop by the city of Kidapawan after his engagement in Bukidnon today (Friday) because I believe that he could diffuse the tension. With his skills in negotiations, I believe he would be able to convince the protesting farmers to open up the highway to allow the motorists and commuters to pass through. READ MORE...

ALSO: Farmers refuse to lift human blockade at Cotabato highway


APRIL 1 -Protest. More than 6,000 farmers stand their ground near the National Food Authority warehouse in Kidapawan City on Thursday as they demand the release of 15,000 sacks of rice because of the drought in North Cotabato. SOME 6,000 starving farmers stood their ground on Day 2 of their human barricade of the Cotabato-Davao highway to demand that the government give them 15,000 sacks of rice as aid for as many families affected by the severe drought. Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas secretary-general Antonio Flores said the drought-stricken farmers lay on the highway and stayed there for two days now to dramatize their plight and to protest the government’s inaction after five months of drought brought on by the El Niño phenomenon. “Farmers are demanding the release of 15,000 sacks of rice as subsidy to farmers which was previously approved by North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza. The NFA simply told the farmers that their demand is ‘under process’,” Flores said.Flores said the farmers from Makilala, Mlang, Tulunan, Magpet, Roxas, Antipas, Arakan towns and Kidapawan City set up camp near the National Food Authority warehouse in Kidapawan City. The barricade has stopped traffic from moving both ways along the highway. Negotiations between farmers, the local government and the NFA were ongoing at the Diocese of Kidapawan mediated by Diocese Administrator Lito Garcia. He said the farmers would lift the barricade only after their demands were met. “Even the rice field rats and snakes evacuated the areas because there was nothing left to feed on in the farms,” Flores said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Human rights lawyers slam N. Cotabato gov as ‘aristocratic mata pobre’ [NUPL SAYS KIDAPAWAN CLASH A 'COLD-BLOODED MURDER']


APRIL 2 -A group of human rights lawyers on Saturday criticized North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Talino-Mendoza as an “aristocratic mata pobre” over the bloody dispersal of protesting drought-stricken farmers in Kidapawan City that resulted in at least two deaths. “In stubbornly justifying the pre-meditated attack on unarmed starving protesting farmers as a ‘clearing operation’ purportedly due to a lack of a permit to peaceably assemble which she is empowered to issue in the first place, North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza exhibits unparalleled remorselessness, arrogance, and self-righteousness. By saying that the issue ‘is not about rice,’ she betrays herself as an aristocratic mata pobre,” Edre Olalia, secretary-general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), said in a statement. READ: Cops, farmers clash in Kidapawan; 2 dead
“She could have just curtly said to the hungry farmers and their families: ‘Let them eat bullets!’ with the panache of Marie Antoinette. As they say, ‘It’s all about rice, stupid,’” he added. READ MORE...RELATED, Cotabato governor denies failure to assist protesting farmers...

ALSO: Accompanied by Bayan Muna Party, actor Robin Padilla arrives in Kidapawan - 'Nandito ako dahil Pilipino ako!'


APRIL 2 -"Mga mahal kong kababayan ako po ay nandito dahil hindi ako pulitiko. Tandaan niyo yan, kahit kailan hindi ako papasok sa pulitika. Ang batas, dapat ang pinapanigan nyan ay ang mga naaapi," Padilla said before a awe-struck crowd. Robin Padilla arrived in Kidapawan City on Saturday to meet the farmers who were violently dispersed by the police the previous day. The popular action film star, accompanied by Bayan Muna party-list representative Neri Colmenares, visited the Spottswood Methodist Center and listened to the grievances of the farmers before speaking to them impromptu. "Mga mahal kong kababayan ako po ay nandito dahil hindi ako pulitiko. Tandaan niyo yan, kahit kailan hindi ako papasok sa pulitika. Hindi ako nandito... hindi ako humihingi ng boto. Nandito ako dahil Pilipino ako. Yung mga nangyayari sa inyo hindi yan dapat nangyayari sa Pilipino. Ang batas, dapat ang pinapanigan nyan ang mga naaapi," Padilla said before a awe-struck crowd. Padilla also vowed to bring their plight to Manila. "Itong boses ko aalingawngaw to... papaalingawngawin ko ito sa Maynila," he said. Padilla then went to the Kidapawan Mega Market and personally bought 200 sacks of rice for the farmers and their families. The protesting farmers need at least 15,000 bags to enable them to survive the dry spell according to Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Cops open fire on protesting Cotabato farmers, kills 3


Hungry and battered. A farmer from Mindanao is helped after he was injured when the police broke up their protest at a highway in Kidapawan City on Friday aimed at seeking government assistance to ease the impact of a prevailing drought. KILAB MULTIMEDIA

KIDAPAWAN CITY, APRIL 4, 2016 (MANILA STANDARD) THREE farmers were killed and at least 53 others were injured when police seeking to break up a three-day protest along the Cotabato-Davao highway fired their M-16 rifles into the crowd. Sixty more farmers, who were demanding food aid amid a worsening drought, were missing.

In the aftermath of the bloody dispersal, protesters sought refuge at the nearby Spottswood Methodist Mission Center, fearing for their lives.

Kidapawan Mayor Joseph Evangelista said the leaders of the protest would be arrested the moment they stepped out of the center.

“They committed a crime; we should prosecute them. They cannot just go out of the Methodist center and walk scot-free. They have a responsibility to account for [what happened,]” he said.

The mayor added that police were also injured during the dispersal, some of them critically, and that not all of those at the barricades were farmers.

On Wednesday, some 6,000 farmers suffering from drought brought about by the El Niño phenomenon blocked a portion of the Cotabato-Davao highway to dramatize their misery and to prod the government to action.

The protest in front of the National Food Authority warehouse stranded hundreds of vehicles and commuters on both sides of the 220-kilometer freeway connecting Cotabato and Davao.

The farmers and city officials blamed each other for the bloody incident.

Negotiations with North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza failed after the governor refused to give into the farmers’ demand for 15,000 sacks of rice as food relief in the face of a drought.

READ MORE...

Pedro Arnado, chairman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Cotabato chapter, said the governor was supposed to hold a second round of talks with the farmers Friday, but they received a call early Friday from someone who read a resolution telling them to leave the area and accusing them of economic sabotage for disrupting the flow of commerce.

Arnado said that after they received the call, the mayor and some social workers from the city government tried “to rescue” pregnant women and children who had joined the picket.


FROM DAVAOTODAY.COM -WHERE’S THE RICE? Around 5,000 farmers protest along Davao-Cotabato national highway in Kidapawan City on Wednesday, March 30 to demand for rice assistance as they suffer the impact of prolonged drought in the province. (Danilda L. Fusilero/davaotoday.com)

Evangelista, in an interview, told The Standard that they had given the farmers “enough time” to air their grievances, and that the farmers should understand that they were protecting their constituents and the businesses in the area, who were hurt by the blockade.

“We kept on insisting that the rice is already in the barangay level, after the barangay has released its calamity funds, they could go to the municipal level. Even the governor has ensured that the provincial calamity funds will be used... We gave them enough time, but the economy of Kidapawan is suffering. We cannot just let these things pass,” Evangelista said.

The mayor said they followed standard operating procedure in dealing with the farmers’ protest.

“We requested them to clear the highway and [to let] the children, the pregnant women… [be] rescued…. My chief of police then issued a notice... for them to leave,” he said.

But Arnado said they pleaded with the authorities.

“All we wanted was relief from the drought, especially the rice, and we would peacefully leave but the chief of police insisted that they would disperse us by force if we did not leave,” Arnado said.

The mayor said because the protesters “resisted,” Col. Alex Tagum “give them a final warning.”

“That’s why our troops entered to clear the highway,” he said.

Arnado said it was the police who started the violence.

“Upon orders of the Col. Alex Tagum, the engines of the firetrucks were turned on and water cannons started bombarding us. The riot police began moving in, we were pushed by their shields and they began striking us with their batons. The farmers were very angry and started to resist the dispersal by throwing stones at the police… I was telling them that we should not counter [the police] because we do not have any fighting chance against them, but they started shooting us with M16 rifles—bang bang bang, I told them to retreat,” Arnado said.


KIDAPAWAN MAYOR

Evangelista countered that the water cannon was used only after “three angry farmers started to hit one of my policemen.”

“They were hitting our men with stones. We all have the footages to prove what happened,” he said.

Mendoza, in an interview with Mindanao-based reporters, said the police were non-violent in performing their duties at the barricade because they were ordered to observe maximum tolerance.

“While the police were trying to rescue the children, the protesters started throwing stones at them. At least 20 cops sustained wounds from the rocks. And then a gunshot was heard and a police reportedly got hit,” Mendoza said, claiming that the first shot came from the protesters.

Jerome Aba, a spokesman of Moro human rights group Suara Bangsamoro, who also suffered a leg injury, confirmed that two farmers from the line of the protesters were dead on the spot, identified as Victor Lumandang and Rutello Daelto, both from North Cotabato province.

The third farmer, identified as Enrico Pabrica of Kidapawan City, died of gunshot wounds as he was being treated.

Reports from independent outfit Kilab Multimedia confirmed that more than 60 farmers were missing and more than 30 from the side of the farmers were injured.

The mayor confirmed that 23 police were wounded, with some critically injured after being stoned by the protesters.

Following the riot, the protesters sought refuge at the Spottswood Methodist Mission Center, few blocks away from where they set up their barricade.

“We are now in the compound of the Methodist Center in Kidapawan and the police are at the gate trying to barge in to arrest us,” Aba said, adding that at least two farmers were arrested during the clash.

Aba and Arnado both feared that they would be arrested if they left the Methodist center.

“Up until now, many of the farmers fear for their lives because they see uniformed soldiers who are making the rounds in the area. One of the farmers even peeked into a hit list that included me and other leaders. We’re hiding now,” Arnado said.


North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza created quite a stir on Twitter a day after she ordered the fully armed policemen to disperse a four-day blockade of hungry farmers at Davao-Cotabato Highway in Kidapawan City. FROM THE POLITICS.COM.PH

In a statement, Mendoza said that she and the LGUs of the second district of North Cotabato take full responsibility for the incident, but she maintained that the protesting farmers had no rally permits for their barricade.

“There are people who died and were injured, and no governor, mayor or provincial administrator would want this to happen. We know that we have constituents that are members of progressive groups. We wish that this incident would find us a common ground and they would understand how hard our situation is,” Mendoza’s statement read.

But Evangelista said if the leaders of the protests walk out of the church, they will be immediately arrested and would be made accountable for the incident.

He added that not everyone in the barricade was a farmer.

“There are people who are rallying from South Cotabato, Bukidnon, Sultan Kudarat, they are no longer legitimate farmers,” he said, adding that they were just bused in for the protest.

“If they are legitimate farmers, why are... Anak Pawis, Gabriela, Bayan Muna, KMP [present?] What are they doing there?” the mayor said.

The Palace said it has ordered a thorough investigation into the Kidapanwan incident.

“The PNP is conducting a thorough investigation, and has reported that 40 members of the police force were wounded, including two police officers who suffered severe head trauma injuries as an offshoot of the clash between the authorities and mass action participants,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

“Accountability is being established and appropriate sanctions will be meted out if justified by the findings of the investigation,” Coloma said.

KMP secretary general Antonio Flores condemned the bloody dispersal of farmers.

“Instead of food, the demands of the drought-stricken and starving farmers were ruthlessly answered by bullets, reminding us of the Mendiola and Hacienda Luisita massacres,” Flores said.


Antonio Flores, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas or KMP

“We cannot understand why government could not grant the farmers’ demand to provide them a subsidy of 15,000 sacks of rice when it can afford to let 200,000 sacks of rice rot in Tacloban, Leyte,” he added.

The bloody incident was also condemned by militant groups, lawmakers, church-based organizations and presidential candidates.

The militant League of Filipino Students put the blame on President Benigno Aquino III, who they called “the massacre king.”


PRESIDENT AQUINO

“This is the legacy of Aquino. The administration abandoned its responsibilities to the people but if the people demand their democratic and legitimate rights, the government will employ brutal and bloody measures against them,” LFS chairperson Charisse Bañez said.

“We are reminded of the massacre in Hacienda Luista, the large parcels of land owned by the President’s family. Even during his term as the President, lumad in Mindanao were brutally killed and massacred – from Paquibato to Lianga to different lumad communities,” she said.

“As massacre king, Aquino makes use of state armed forces – the police and military - to repeatedly violate our human rights and right to organize and peaceable assembly.... We cannot allow this to continue,” Bañez added.

Anakpawis said Governor Mendoza, a Liberal Party stalwart, plans to arrest the leaders of the protest and charge them with economic sabotage, direct assault, illegal assembly and other offenses.

“The province is essentially under martial law. A cohort of President Aquino has ordered the violent dispersal resulting in the deaths and wounding of farmers who are demanding government help due to the effects of El Niño,” said Anakpawis national vice president Ariel Casilao.

Casilao also said the death toll had reached three―but this could not be independently confirmed.

Opposition presidential candidate Vice President Jejomar Binay said he deplored the use of violence to disperse the farmers.

“They asked for rice, but they got bullets,” said his spokesman Rico Quicho.

“Hunger is a reality that must be addressed not by violence but by compassion and concrete programs to improve the lives of the poor,” he added.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. said the government should have heeded the demands of the farmers, who were suffering from severe drought.

“Firing on unarmed protesters is deplorable and is not the answer to the farmers’ demands. The Aquino regime and Governor Lala Mendoza should be made accountable for the bloody dispersal. We call on our friends to stand with the farmers of Kidawapan during this most difficult time in their struggle. Let us add our voices in condemning this latest atrocity,” Reyes said.

Presidential candidate Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago called the Kidapawan dispersal “inhuman” and said the government should be held accountable for the violence.

“It is vile enough that this administration has failed to support the farmers and lumad of Kidapawan during the prolonged drought in Mindanao. But it is downright inhuman for them to shoot at the same people begging for help,” the senator said.

Santiago said the incident should immediately be investigated and those guilty be swiftly brought to justice. She also urged the administration to improve support for the agriculture sector to consistently ensure sufficient food supply.

“In the first place, there would not have been a protest if only these people felt compassion from their leaders. This government cannot claim to be pro-poor when it answers pleas for help with bursts of gunshot,” the senator said.

Human rights group Karapatan held President Aquino, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Mendoza, and PNP Col. Alex Tagum accountable for the assault on the farmers.

The KMP also said administration candidate Manuel Roxas II’s reaction to the violent dispersal showed his true “haciendero roots.”

“Roxas’ insensitive and unsympathetic comments are devoid of any condemnation towards the state-sponsored violence against farmers,” Flores said.

In a statement, Roxas said “the first task of the day is to restore order to the area and make sure that no clash happens again” as he “called on the PNP and other concerned agencies to investigate as to the true cause of the clash and, if warranted, punish those accountable.”

“Roxas’ statement is a highly unacceptable April Fool’s joke,” Flores said.

“Not only did Roxas insult the farmers and their just demands, he also maliciously implied that a battle happened between protesters and government forces, when in fact, it was a massacre committed by the police and military,” he added.

“In case Roxas doesn’t know, thousands of farmers who sought refuge at the United Methodist Church are now being cordoned by police and military. More than a hundred were arrested, 28 are still missing and 92 were wounded in the violent dispersal this morning,” Flores said.

“We condemn the Kidapawan massacre that killed three farmers and wounded scores of protesters. The Aquino government’s callousness and impunity are unacceptable and deserves massive condemnation from the public,” Flores said.

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio also condemned the shooting of unarmed farmers.

“We are outraged at the PNP’s utter disregard for the lives of ordinary citizens. There can be no justification whatsoever for the PNP’s use of lethal violence against unarmed civilians. Criminal charges must be filed against all PNP officials and personnel involved. There should be no impunity,” Tinio said.

The farmers, belonging to the poorest of the poor in Mindanao, had suffered through months of famine due to El Niño and were engaged in collective protest to demand food and other aid from government, he said.

“The Aquino administration responded to them with bullets,” Tinio said.

Senatorial bet Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares also condemned the shooting.

“Many have been hurt, this is like the Mendiola and Luisita massacres all over again. They claim to be pro-farmers, but instead of givign them rice, they let them eat bullets. What kind of government is this? They answer a calamity with a bloodier calamity,” he said in Filipino.

The Promotion of Church People’s Response expressed its “utter contempt for hardhearted leaders who answered the people’s cry for food with death-dealing bullets and stone-hard blows.”

“When the hunger of the poor brings violent responses from those in leadership, these leaders are not fit to govern,” said Marie Sol Villalon, PCPR co-chairperson. “Our government is plagued with shameful indifference.”

“We stand with the poor farmers and lumad to condemn this ruthless and violent dispersal. We demand that calamity support be immediately given to those stricken by drought in Mindanao. May our hearts be moved with compassion--these cries for food deserve a human and caring response,” she said.

Following the shooting of farmers, students led by LFS and Kabataan Partylist trooped to Mendiola Peace Arch to express their “utmost condemnation.”

Presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe called for an immediate investigation of the bloody dispersal, saying the farmers were making a rightful demand for government aid amid the drought.

“This should have been attended to by the concerned agencies at the outset that would have prevented the farmers from taking to the streets,” she added.

Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., a candidate for vice president, bewailed as “completely unnecessary” the use of bullets to disperse the farmers.

“I deplore the use of bullets to answer legitimate demands of our farmers and their families in North Cotabato. They are hungry and they are just asking for food so they can feed their families. The violent dispersal was completely unnecessary,” he said.

Another leading vice presidential candidate, Senator Francis Escudero, said every citizen has a right to free assembly, and that the concerns of the farmers were legitimate.

“The least the government could do is listen to their concerns and do something about it,” he said.

A native of Davao City, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the farmers who had been seeking relief from the effects of the drought in Kidapawan City and neighboring towns “deserved help and not bullets.”

“We are enraged by this violence committed against the protesting peasants and lumad. While officials running for office now spend public funds to promote their self-interest, this is what they do to our peasants who merely assert peacefully their right to be given assistance immediately. Bayan Muna condemns this police brutality to the highest degree,” Zarate said.

Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon also lashed out at the Aquino administration for the murder of farmers.

“We condemn in no uncertain terms the violent dispersal of the peaceful barricade of El Niño victims who were only calling for the immediate release of the emergency fund and aid for their starving families,” Ridon said. – With Sandy Araneta, Vito Barcelo, Francisco 

----------------------------

RELATED FROM THE MINDANAO EXAMINER

Police open fire on protesters, kill 3 in North Cotabato


Man Armed policemen open fire on protesting farmers in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato province during a violent dispersal April 1, 2016. (Text by Mindanao Examiner. Photos by Kilab Multimedia)

(MINDANAO EXAMINER)  Posted: 6:09 pm, April 1, 2016 by Desk - Policemen on Friday opened fire on farmers who barricaded a highway in southern Philippines to dramatize their protest on government’s failure to provide them food aid after being devastated by drought in Mindanao.

Policemen were trying to disperse the protesters in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato province, but shots had been fired toward the farmers and killing at least 3 people and injured many others, according to the farmers’ group called Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

It said more than 2 dozen farmers were also wounded in the brutal dispersal by the police. This after some of the protesters alleged hurled rocks to policemen injuring some of them. The farmers have been demanding rice from the government, saying, their families have no more food to eat due to the long dry spell brought about by El Niño that had already destroyed over P24o million in crops.

The drought damaged rice, corn, banana, rubber, coconut, oil palm and vegetable planted by small farmers in over 27,500 hectares in Kidapawan City and the towns of Arakan, Antipas, President Roxas, Magpet, Makilala, Tulunan, M’lang, Matalam and Kabacan – all in North Cotabato.


Philippine National Police clear the highway off of blood and debris following a violent protest along a national highway in Kidapawan city southern Philippines Friday April 1, 2016. Officials say at least two people have been killed and dozens wounded when gunfire erupted as police attempted to clear a 4-day-old protest by farmers, who have been demanding government financial aid in the wake of a seven-month drought in the province. A journalist at the site counted 13 injured protesters. (AP Photo/Williamor Magbanua)

The women’s group Gabriela said the wounded farmers were shot in the stomach, mouth and legs. “Initial reports reveal that farmers suffered bullet wounds in the stomach, mouth and legs. These were obviously not warning shots. These shots were meant to kill farmers holding barricade and demanding food,” said Rep. Emmi de Jesus.

Gabriela said as much as 5,000 people joined the protests.

De Jesus condemned the dispersal, calling it “brutal.” “We strongly condemn the government’s brutal response to the farmers’ demand for relief and aid. We hold President Aquino, Liberal Party-backed North Cotabato Governor Lala Mendoza, and the local police forces responsible for the killings and the wounding of at least 30 farmers as police responded to protesters with bullets,” she said.

READ MORE...

Bai Ali Indayla, of Gabriela (photo)  who was among the protesters, said security forces has cordoned them off at the Methodist Church compound in Kidapawan City where they sought safe refuge.

Indayla said the provincial government refused to talk or negotiate with barricading farmers to end the crisis and resolve the woes of the protesters. She said the province has long been declared in a state of calamity due to the drought, but farmers received to assistance from the Aquino government.

“This bloody response to the farmers’ just and legitimate demands and depriving farmers of relief will have its political costs and Liberal Party bets will suffer greatly in this obstinate display of brutality and callousness,” Indayla said.

Ariel Casilao, of the pro-farmers group Anakpawis, said: “This is the latest atrocity that the Aquino presidency has inflicted on the poor farmers. We totally condemn this brutal act and we hold him and his Liberal Party as primary responsible. We demand justice and accountability.”

Casilao, citing reports by his group, said at least 30 farmers were reported missing and believed taken by the police during the violent dispersal. He said among those wounded in the dispersal were human rights workers Roger Imuy, Leo Deyong, Darwin Madiao, Roland Jampas, Mario Ansabo, Alce Awi, Ejay Salaber, Ricky Maat, Rodolfo Tanyo and Sheena Duazo, a spokesperson for the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in southern Mindanao.

There was no immediate statement from the police about the accusations. (Mindanao Examiner)


PHILSTAR

Politically motivated, NPA instigated’ By Marichu Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 3, 2016 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala: According to Alcala, Piñol’s brother is running against reelectionist North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño, who is backed by the Liberal Party. Philstar.com file

MANILA, Philippines – The violence-marred Kidapawan protest blockade was not about farmers’ gripes over alleged lack of government support for their losses due to El Niño, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said yesterday.

Rather, Alcala said it was politically motivated, and the violence was instigated by left-leaning groups backed by the New People’s Army (NPA).

Alcala pointed to local politicians in Mindanao identified with the group of Manny Piñol who are supporting the presidential bid of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

According to Alcala, Piñol’s brother is running against reelectionist North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño, who is backed by the Liberal Party.


FORMER North Cotabato governor Manny Piñol

“The reality on the ground at Kidapawan is that it’s politically motivated by the local politicians led by Piñol,” Alcala told The STAR.

“Our brothers from the Left, who were observing the NPA anniversary last March 29, instigated the breakout of stone-throwing that led to the violence during the dispersal,” Alcala added.

Based on field reports, Alcala noted that the militant farmers’ group led by Rafael Mariano of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) brought the farmers and fisherfolk to the highway with the alleged promise that they would receive sacks of rice from the governor.

Alcala said that “this is an issue of misinformation. They intentionally misled the local farmers regarding the supposed distribution of rice.”

Alcala was in Nueva Vizcaya when the police dispersal turned violent at Kidapawan, where two farmers reportedly died.

“It’s really sad that this had to happen. I think the problem was that these people made the farmers get angry at the government to stir up violence,” the agriculture secretary said.

READ MORE...

While indeed many farmers and fisherfolk were affected by the long dry spell due to El Niño, there have been bumper harvests of rice and corn in Kidapawan, Carmen and other areas in North Cotabato, and in Regions 11 and 12, Alcala pointed out.

He said that Regions 11 and 12, including Kidapawan, are even among the “best performers” in rice and corn production despite the long dry period since last year.

National government agencies like the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) have been giving “intervention” assistance in these areas because they are still under a state of calamity due to El Niño, Alcala explained.

He said that he even visited Kidapawan City last February and March to talk to the local farmer groups regarding the issues they face.

“We closely monitored the situation. And I think that not all of those involved were from Kidapawan. I believe that some of them were from other areas.”

On the part of the DA, he said that one sack of hybrid rice seeds per hectare and one sack of fertilizer are given to farmers certified by the local agriculturist as having been affected by El Niño.

Fortunately, Alcala added, the dams in Mindanao have more than enough water during this period. This helped stave off the severe dry spell that was initially expected.

Thus the projected impact of crop losses amounting to 950,000 metric tons of rice did not happen because of these interventions.

As monitored by the DA, only about 200,000 metric tons of rice were lost due to El Niño.

Alcala instructed DA regional director Bing Datukan to meet the farmer and fisherfolk groups on Monday to further discuss other concerns and assistance for the affected sectors.

Meanwhile, the National Food Authority (NFA) said it will also offer assistance to the farmer groups.

“We are ready to transact with the DSWD and the local government unit regarding the rice that may be needed by the beneficiaries,” said NFA public affairs director Angel Imperial in a phone interview.

He added that NFA administrator Renan Dalisay is currently in Kidapawan City to oversee the help that can be offered to the farmer groups. – With Louise Maureen Simeon


FROM MANNY PIÑOL FACEBOOK TIMELINE
MannyPiñol added 3 new photos — with Stan Dela Cruz and 3 others.
Yesterday at 5:29am ·

To the family of the dead and wounded: I'M SORRY, I TRIED MY BEST
BUT I WAS ONE STEP BEHIND By Manny Piñol


Manny Piñol FACEBOOK COVERPHOTO

To the families of the farmers who were killed and wounded and the policemen who were injured in the violent dispersal of the 5-day-old rally in Kidapawan City today, please accept my heartfelt apologies and condolences.

I was sadly one step behind in the turn of events. If only I was able to do something earlier, things may not have turned bloody and deadly.

To correct the erroneous interpretation of my presence in the rally area this morning, allow me to share the true story.

Last night, I had a meeting with Presidential frontrunner Rody Duterte which lasted until about 12 midnight in Davao City.

Two of the very important issues I raised during the meeting were the forest fire which was destroying the centuries-old forests in Mt. Apo and the 4-day-old rally of farmers and militant groups in Kidapawan City.

I told Duterte that the farmers' rally was getting to be a serious problem because it was not only paralyzing business in the capital city of Kidapawan but it was already affecting everybody because of the closure of the national highway.

It was because of this that I asked Duterte to drop by the city of Kidapawan after his engagement in Bukidnon today (Friday) because I believe that he could diffuse the tension.

With his skills in negotiations, I believe he would be able to convince the protesting farmers to open up the highway to allow the motorists and commuters to pass through.

READ MORE...

We discussed the things which could be undertaken to address the demand of the hungry farmers for rice after the 4-month-long drought has rendered their farms unproductive.

I arrived home in Kidapawan City at about 3 a.m. Friday, and at 7 a.m. I proceeded to the rally area to meet with the protest leaders.


From Manny Piñol FACEBOOK: With Johnny Lambac; ENTERED AT FB, MannyPiñol Like This Page · Yesterday ·

There, I informed them of the tentative plan of Duterte to drop by Kidapawan City and meet with the protest leaders, a news which was received happily by the farmers and the members of the militant groups.

After that, I went home to wait for the confirmation of Duterte's arrival from his chief aide, Bong Go.

At about 10 a.m. while I was in my farm, I received text messages informing me of the violent dispersal of the rally.

I went back to the area and succeeded in convincing both sides to stay where they were.

Today, I feel very sad and sorry that I was not able to do earlier the things I did last night.


From Manny Piñol's FACEBOOK PHOTOS

But it was only last night when Duterte came home to Davao after campaigning in other parts of the country thus I did not have the opportunity to take up with him the problem.

So, to those who are now saying that my presence in the rally area was because of politics, you are simply dead wrong. I am out of politics and I am not running for a political position.

I was there because, even if I am already out of politics, I still care for the people of this province.

I was there because I wanted to tell the hungry farmers that there is a presidential candidate now who truly cares for them.
I'm sorry that I was not able to do it earlier.

I apologize to the families of the farmers who were killed, and those who were wounded, including the policemen who were injured most of whom are from my hometown, M'lang.

In spite of this tragic turn of events, I am certain that we are seeing the last days of government insensitivity to the cries of the poor for help in times in crisis.

Change is coming.

---------------------------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Demand for rice turns bloody 2 killed, 33 hurt as farmers, police clash during Kidapawan dispersal operations April 2, 2016 Share328 Tweet3 Share1 Email0 Share446 By Malu Cadelina Manar, AP, and PNA


HIGHWAY OF BROKEN PROMISES – Rescue workers rush a victim to safety Friday after local police dispersed around 3,000 farmers from various parts of North Cotabato who staged a protest over unreleased calamity support funds previously promised them by the provincial government. As of press time, two farmers were reported killed after the police moved in to break up their three-day protest that blocked a portion of the Davao-Cotabato City highway in Kidapawan City. (Geonarri O. Solmerano)

Kidapawan City – All they wanted was rice, plus free vegetable seedlings and financial subsidy in the wake of the El Niño. But after three days of protest to air their demands, all that the protesting farmers and their supporters got were bullets.

The farmers claimed they were fired upon by policemen who tried to break the human barricade they formed that virtually blocked the Makilala-Kidapawan Highway.

When the smoke of fire cleared, two farmers were killed while at least 33 others were injured, 20 of them policemen who were hurt when the farmers fought back with rocks and scrap metals.

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza said two people died during the dispersal operations. They were identified as Rogelio Daelto and Victor Lumagdang, both farmers from Barangay Binoongan, Arakan.

Chief Superintendent Wilben mayor, PNP spokesman, said two police officers are in critical condition.

Among the injured were Sheena Duazo of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan); Alan Jampas of Barangay Meocan, Arakan; Ernie Carmelo of Barangay Doruluman, Arakan; Rodolfo Tanio of Barangay Binoongan, Arakan; and a certain Ilyong of Barangay Tongao, Magpet. Duazo was hit in the head by a stone during the dispersal operations.

The farmers, who have been demanding rice, government financial aid, free vegetable seedlings, and higher prices for their agricultural products, said the police fired at them. But police said the farmers, some of them armed, fired at the lawmen first.

READ MORE...

Gov. Mendoza said that at about 10:30 a.m. yesterday, about 500 police officers tried to disperse the human barricade because of lack of permit to rally.


North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza

But she said the farmers resisted and attacked the law enforcers, triggering a commotion and a series of explosions.

Mendoza said the violence erupted when the farmers attacked the police. She said her directive to the police was to exercise maximum tolerance.

The governor said the police were serving a dispersal order because the rally and the assembly were considered illegal as the farmers have no permit to occupy portions of the highway. She said the farmers were given permission to hold rally by the city government of Kidawapan only for Monday but the protesters remained in the highway, preventing the passage of government and private vehicles.

Senior Supt. Bernard Tayong, North Cotabato police spokesperson, said the police were observing maximum tolerance. But the protesters were aggressive and threw huge rocks and metals toward the law enforcers. One of the farmers allegedly shot at a police officer who was injured.

”The first shot came from the protesters,” Gov. Mendoza told reporters. Mendoza, in a press briefing, said she is taking full responsibility for what happened.

For her part, Norma Capuyan, speaking for the militant group Apo Sandawa Lumadnong Panaghiusa sa North Cotabato, a farmers’ organization, said the police opened fire on some 5,000 farmers.

“Loud bursts of gunfire erupted,” Capuyan said. “There was heavy volume of fire. We ran to a church compound and the police surrounded us.”

Pedro Arnado, chairman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), said his group is preparing charges against the provincial government and policemen involved in the violent dispersal.

But the police are also bent on filing the charges, especially traffic obstruction, against the protesters.

OFFICIALS DEPLORE DISPERSAL

Vice President and United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard-bearer Jejomar C. Binay condemned the deadly dispersal of farmers.

“Vice President Jejomar C. Binay deplores the use of violence to disperse farmers in Kidapawan demanding rice from government,” lawyer Rico Quicho, Binay’s campaign spokesman, said in a statement.

“Bigas ang hinihingi, pero bala ang ibinigay (They were asking for rice, but all they got were bullets),” Quicho said of the hungry farmers from Kidapawan City.

The campaign headquarters of presidential aspirant Mayor Rodrigo Duterte also condemned the attack on the farmers and lumad tribesmen.

“First there was the Mendiola massacre, then Hacienda Luisita, then the Mamasapano, and now the Kidapawan carnage,” said Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr. in a press statement.

Evasco, national campaign manager of Duterte, lamented that instead of giving the protesters food because of hunger as a result of the long drought, the Aquino government decided to order the police to open fire at them.

“Blood – blood of enraged and hungered people – are soaked in the hands of the landlord class personified by the Aquino-Cojuangco clique of the ruling elite,” said Evasco.

Militant solons, among them Reps. Neri Colmenares (Bayan Muna), Terry Ridon (Kabataan Partylist), Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers Partylist), Emmi de Jesus, and Luzviminda Ilagan (Gabriela) issued statements blaming the Aquino administration for the violence.

Presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe said the farmers staged their activity for a rightful demand which is government aid amid the drought being experienced in the province.

“This should have been attended to by the concerned agencies at the outset that would have prevented the farmers from taking to the streets,” Poe stressed.

Her running mate, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero expressed alarm at reports that some victims include children.

“I believe that every citizen has a right to freedom of assembly and the concerns of these poor farmers are valid. The least the government could do is listen to their concerns and do something about it,” Escudero said.

Even presidential candidate Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago and her running mate Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. joined in condemning the deadly dispersal.

Santiago, a constitutional expert, said the government should be held accountable for the violence, adding that the act violated the constitutional right to freedom of assembly.

“I deplore the use of bullets to answer legitimate demands of our farmers and their families in North Cotabato. They are hungry and they are just asking for food so they can feed their families. The violent dispersal was completely unnecessary,” Marcos said. (With reports from Francis T. Wakefield, Ellson A. Quismorio, Ben R. Rosario, Hannah L. Torregoza)


MANILA STANDARD

Farmers refuse to lift blockade posted April 01, 2016 at 12:01 am by Christine F. Herrera and Sandy Araneta


Protest. More than 6,000 farmers stand their ground near the National Food Authority warehouse in Kidapawan City on Thursday as they demand the release of 15,000 sacks of rice because of the drought in North Cotabato.

SOME 6,000 starving farmers stood their ground on Day 2 of their human barricade of the Cotabato-Davao highway to demand that the government give them 15,000 sacks of rice as aid for as many families affected by the severe drought.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas secretary-general Antonio Flores said the drought-stricken farmers lay on the highway and stayed there for two days now to dramatize their plight and to protest the government’s inaction after five months of drought brought on by the El Niño phenomenon.

“Farmers are demanding the release of 15,000 sacks of rice as subsidy to farmers which was previously approved by North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza. The NFA simply told the farmers that their demand is ‘under process’,” Flores said.

Flores said the farmers from Makilala, Mlang, Tulunan, Magpet, Roxas, Antipas, Arakan towns and Kidapawan City set up camp near the National Food Authority warehouse in Kidapawan City.

The barricade has stopped traffic from moving both ways along the highway.

Negotiations between farmers, the local government and the NFA were ongoing at the Diocese of Kidapawan mediated by Diocese Administrator Lito Garcia.

He said the farmers would lift the barricade only after their demands were met.

“Even the rice field rats and snakes evacuated the areas because there was nothing left to feed on in the farms,” Flores said.

The KMP also lambasted the North Cotabato police for alleging that farmers were duped into joining the ongoing massive protests that barricaded the Davao-Cotabato highway to demand urgent calamity assistance to farmers and lumad—or native tribes—severely affected by drought in the province.

Flores said North Cotabato Police Chief Supt. Bernard Tayong alleged that organizers of the protest led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Kotabato, KMP’s local chapter in North Cotabato, tricked the protesters by promising them that rice would be distributed by the provincial government.

READ MORE...

“Chief Supt. Bernard Tayong is not thinking. The farmers’ protest is just and legitimate. Anyone who is hungry will seek ways to find food and livelihood,” Flores said in Filipino.

“The farmers are just getting what is due to them. Militant and daring actions are an expression of the people’s assertion of rights. The granting of rice subsidy to drought-affected farmers was already approved by the LGU. But because the national government is slow, the starving farmers are taking action,” Flores said.

Aside from rice and food aid, farmers were also demanding free distribution of seedlings, an increase in the farm gate prices of agricultural crops and the immediate pullout of military troops in the North Cotabato towns, Flores said.

The local government, however, insisted on distributing the rice subsidy through the food for work program of the local Department of Social Welfare and Development, he said.

“Due to the drought, farmers cannot plant rice and crops and they have no alternative livelihood. Their families are already hungry and in need of urgent assistance. Instead of acting swiftly to provide immediate relief to farmers, the LGU wants to follow circuitous and bureaucratic processes,” Flores said.

“Farmers will continue with their collective actions until the local government accedes to their demands,” he said.

In the Palace, a spokesman for President Benigno Aquino III said the government has taken steps to counter the effects of the El Niño.


COLOMA

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Agriculture Department was carrying out El Niño mitigation programs in the area and was working with the local government to address the farmers’ concerns.

“But the DA is not directly involved in the matter of giving rice to the farmers as the DA itself is focusing on other El Niño mitigation projects,” Coloma also said.

North Cotabato was placed under a state of calamity in January due to the dry spell brought about by El Niño.

Pedro Arnado, chairman of KMP Southern Mindanao, said they will continue with their protests until officials from the Cotabato provincial government meet their demands, including their call for Mendoza to negotiate with them.

Jessie Ined, assistant executive secretary of the governor, said Mendoza would meet with the protesters and denied that they had tried several times to set up a meeting.

Norma Capuyan, chairperson of Apo-Sandawa Lumadnong Panaghiusa in North Cotabato, said that during negotiations with Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista, the mayor wanted to get the names of those who joined the rally, saying the rice would be coursed through their respective barangays.

But Capuyan said they want to sign a memorandum of agreement with the provincial governor, at their barricade to ensure that their demands will be met.

“This is not the first time that farmers here put up a barricade during El Niño,” Capuyan said, referring to a similar action in 1998. “And this was not the first time that we heard that line from the politicians.”

She said the farmers do not want to have a repeat of what happened 18 years ago where they went home with nothing.

“We want to receive the rice here in the picket line. We will not leave this place until Governor Lala negotiates with us,” she said.

In its El Niño Advisory No. 13 issued on Feb. 9, 2016, the weather bureau said 18 provinces, mostly from Mindanao, experienced drought conditions in February.

As of Feb. 29, 2016, the provinces including Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, Basilan, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi have experienced drought, the bureau said.

“Meanwhile, occurrences of grassfires in General Santos City and Cotabato City have been reported due to the prolonged dry conditions and warmer than average temperatures attributed to the on-going El Niño phenomenon. The highest temperatures recorded were 38.0 °C in General Santos City and 36.2 °C in Cotabato City for the month of February,” the advisory said.

The largest by far in the grassfire last Saturday, March 26, that razed 300 hectares surrounding the country’s highest peak, Mt. Apo found on the boundaries of Davao City, Davao del Sur and Cotabato provinces.


INQUIRER

Human rights lawyers slam N. Cotabato guv as ‘aristocratic mata pobre’ SHARES: 63 VIEW COMMENTS By: Yuji Vincent Gonzales @YGonzalesINQ Yuji Vincent Gonzales 08:10 PM April 2nd, 2016

NUPL SAYS KIDAPAWAN CLASH A 'COLD-BLOODED MURDER

A group of human rights lawyers on Saturday criticized North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Talino-Mendoza as an “aristocratic mata pobre” over the bloody dispersal of protesting drought-stricken farmers in Kidapawan City that resulted in at least two deaths.

“In stubbornly justifying the pre-meditated attack on unarmed starving protesting farmers as a ‘clearing operation’ purportedly due to a lack of a permit to peaceably assemble which she is empowered to issue in the first place, North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza exhibits unparalleled remorselessness, arrogance, and self-righteousness.

By saying that the issue ‘is not about rice,’ she betrays herself as an aristocratic mata pobre,” Edre Olalia, secretary-general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), said in a statement.

READ: Cops, farmers clash in Kidapawan; 2 dead

“She could have just curtly said to the hungry farmers and their families: ‘Let them eat bullets!’ with the panache of Marie Antoinette. As they say, ‘It’s all about rice, stupid,’” he added.

READ MORE...

At least two farmers were dead and several others were wounded after the bloody dispersal of protesters at the Cotabato-Davao Highway in Kidapawan City on Friday. The farmers, who were demanding relief and subsidy for farm communities affected by the dry spell, said police authorities fired the first shot.

The Philippine National Police said it is investigating the incident, noting that some of its officers were also injured due to attacks allegedly from protesters.

READ: PNP probing Kidapawan incident; claims 2 policemen also hurt

Olalia described the dispersal as “plain cold-blooded murder” and a “disproportionate response of a powerfully bully over the powerless.”

Tension rose again between cops and farmers on Saturday morning as the authorities, backed by a search warrant for firearms, barged in the Methodist Church compound where the protesters have been staying in.

READ: Tensions flare as cops barge into compound occupied by Kidapawan farmers

But Olalia said the search warrant appeared to be “dubious, irregular, and a fishing expedition,” adding that it was a way of security forces to “validate their illegal acts.”

“Such shotgun or general warrant is, therefore, not only illegal and invalid but is a continuing violation of human rights under the law, the Constitution & international conventions,” he said.

“Further, the reported illegal arrests that at least 45 men detained in a gym and 33 women in the pilot center is brazen impunity at its worst on top of whitewashing of cold blooded brutal murders and callous indifference by public officials who are sworn to protect and provide for the basic needs of its citizens. We will throw the book against these unrepentant aristocrats and fascists,” Olalia added.
JE

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RELATED FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Cotabato governor denies failure to assist protesting farmers Published April 1, 2016 11:37pm


Gov. Lala Taliño-Mendoza

Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza said Friday the provincial government had been providing assistance to farmers affected by the El Niño-caused drought.

Some 4,000 of these farmers, demanding relief, particularly food assistance, had blocked the Cotabato-Davao highway for three days.

A violent confrontation with police units occurred on Friday, and three farmers were killed with 9 others injured. Some 40 police officers were also injured, two critically.

However, local government units had been distributing relief goods to farming communities, the governor insisted on GMA News TV's "State of the Nation with Jessica Soho"

"Hindi naman nagkulang ang gobyerno dahil 'yung bigas binibigay 'yun ng mga mayors," said Mendoza, whose province was placed under a state of calamity last January due to drought, that was compounded by rodent attacks on farmlands.

"Namigay na ang mga mayors," she insisted. "Kaya inexplain ng mga mayors, 'Bakit ito?' Kasi itong mga nag-rally pala ay pinangakuan na bibigyan ng bigas kung sila ay sasama."

Mendoza also said that not all the protesters were farmers. "There are indigenous people. There are children. There are progressive groups," she claimed.

However, Kilusang Magbubukind ng Pilipinas-Southern Mindanao Chairman Pedro Arnado, countered that the farmers' protest was legitimate. "Makatarungan ang demand ng mga magsasaka dahil sa kagutuman," Arnado also insisted. — Virgil Lopez/DVM, GMA News


GMA NEWS NETWORK

Robin Padilla arrives in Kidapawan: 'Nandito ako dahil Pilipino ako!' Published April 2, 2016 7:21pm By MARISSE PANALIGAN, GMA News


"Mga mahal kong kababayan ako po ay nandito dahil hindi ako pulitiko. Tandaan niyo yan, kahit kailan hindi ako papasok sa pulitika. Hindi ako nandito... hindi ako humihingi ng boto. Nandito ako dahil Pilipino ako. Yung mga nangyayari sa inyo hindi yan dapat nangyayari sa Pilipino. Ang batas, dapat ang pinapanigan nyan ang mga naaapi," Padilla said before a awe-struck crowd.

Robin Padilla arrived in Kidapawan City on Saturday to meet the farmers who were violently dispersed by the police the previous day.

The popular action film star, accompanied by Bayan Muna party-list representative Neri Colmenares, visited the Spottswood Methodist Center and listened to the grievances of the farmers before speaking to them impromptu.

"Mga mahal kong kababayan ako po ay nandito dahil hindi ako pulitiko. Tandaan niyo yan, kahit kailan hindi ako papasok sa pulitika. Hindi ako nandito... hindi ako humihingi ng boto. Nandito ako dahil Pilipino ako. Yung mga nangyayari sa inyo hindi yan dapat nangyayari sa Pilipino. Ang batas, dapat ang pinapanigan nyan ang mga naaapi," Padilla said before a awe-struck crowd.

Padilla also vowed to bring their plight to Manila.

"Itong boses ko aalingawngaw to... papaalingawngawin ko ito sa Maynila," he said.

Padilla then went to the Kidapawan Mega Market and personally bought 200 sacks of rice for the farmers and their families.

The protesting farmers need at least 15,000 bags to enable them to survive the dry spell according to Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

READ MORE...

He also told the farmers that more aid will come as his affluent friends have pledged money to buy more rice for them.

Before his arrival, the actor posted a video of the Kidapawan incident with a quote from the late Luis Taruc, founder of the Hukbalahap.


DROUGHT CIRCA 2015 A farming family stands in the middle of what was left of their rice field—cracks and dried soil—during the drought that hit the town of M’lang in North Cotabato province. KARLOS MANLUPIG/INQUIRER MINDANAO

Meanwhile, presidential candidates Senator Grace Poe and Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte have also committed to donate sacks of rice for the farmers.

This was confirmed by Ariel Casilao, Makabayan's national executive vice president, in an interview with dxND Radyo Bida.

In a press briefing, North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Talino-Mendoza did not take kindly to the aid promised by the presidential hopefuls and said that it is a political move.

"It’s a big insult to my province and to the mayors," she said. "“Where are you in the past days?"

Around 5,000 farmers have closed the highway connecting Cotabato to Davao and other nearby provinces for three days until the Philippine National Police carried out the dispersal on Friday.

Three farmers were killed while dozens of protesters and policemen were injured in the incident. — Williamor Magbanua/APG, GMA News


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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