PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE: Since 1997 © Copyright (PHNO) http://newsflash.org



PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

COMMISSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ASKS POLICE TO REVIEW CASES OF KIDAPAWAN PROTESTERS


APRIL 7 -The Commission on Human Rights on Thursday urged the Philippine National Police in Cotabato province to review the cases of 81 people it arrested after a violent dispersal of a farmers' protest in Kidapawan City on April 1, saying pregnant women and the elderly were among those detained.
At a Senate hearing held in Davao City, Human Rights Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana confirmed that the commission found that three pregnant women were among those detained. Aside from the pregnant women, "a lot of senior citizens have been picked up," she said. "I am actually appealing to the PNP to review the cases filed against these people," she said, adding the detainees had been held by the police for a week. She said that the commission is still conducting its investigation into the dispersal, where at least two farmers died and more than a hundred were injured. "There are indeed disturbing findings that we are still pursuing," she said, adding the CHR expects to release its report on the incident within two weeks. Senators also questioned the detention of the protesters, especially of the women and senior citizens, whom police said were caught in the act of assaulting police. READ MORE...RELATED, 2 top N. Cotabato cops sacked over Kidapawan dispersal incident...

ALSO: Blockade lifted; Cotabato protesters given rice


APRIL 7 -CAMP Crame rally. Militant students and workers hold a rally at the headquarters of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame Quezon City on Wednesday to demand justice for the farmers of Kidapawan, North Cotabato. MANNY PALMERO
KIDAPAWAN lifted their blockade Wednesday on a Methodist Church where protesting farmers had sought refuge after their protest was broken up violently on April 1, and some of the protesters began returning to their homes with sacks of donated rice after religious groups and other organizations intervened. “For now, there’s an agreement to pull out the police from the church,” said Manuel de Leon, president of Notre Dame of Kidapawan. “There will just be a police presence to patrol the traffic on the highway. The KMP [The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas] assured us they will not go back to the streets.” “Many [of the] policemen were my students. We said let’s talk, the problem is hunger because of the drought. That’s why we need reconciliation. Let’s not go back to the streets, let’s not waste more lives,” he added. Antonio Flores, secretary-general of the KMP, confirmed that the farmers were being allowed to return to their homes with rice donations from various groups. Last week, the farmers blocked the Davao-Cotabato highway for four days to dramatize their plight after five months of drought, and to prod the government into helping them. Police broke up the protest violently on Friday, leaving two farmers (not three as originally reported) dead by gunshot wound. Kidapawan Mayor Joseph Evangelista, who had ordered the dispersal, was against the idea of letting the farmers in the Methodist Church go home, saying they needed to identify and arrest the leaders of the protest. He also said not all of the protesters were farmers. “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,]” Evangelista said in an earlier interview. READ MORE...RELATED North Cotabato governor faces graft raps amid Kidapawan probe ...

ALSO: Senate probe reveals Noy’s liability for Kidapawan carnage


APRIL 9 -The Senate investigation into the violent dispersal of protesting farmers in Kidapawan City has proved the accountability of President Aquino as one of the lead probers accused the administration of lying to the public. “The Senate probe into the incident showed us one thing: Aquino’s criminal negligence has led our farmers to starve, prompting them to protest. The national government knew about the protest since the first day,” said League of Filipino Students (LFS) national chairman Charisse Bañez as students and other groups took part in the Global Day of Action for Food and Justice. “We heard a familiar horrible story — a narration of how the government is missing in action when thousands upon thousands of victims of a calamity are desperately asking for help. Just like the people of Eastern Visayas who suffered from typhoon Yolanda, the farmers in North Cotabato were also abandoned by the Aquino regime in the middle of El Niño,” she stressed. Bañez noted that the farmers were already suffering great damage for seven months and that the local government of North Cotabato even declared a state of calamity in the province. According to her, the hearing revealed the national government did not respond to the farmers’ plea for help. “In Kidapawan alone, at least 25 percent of the local population or 11,000 families have been affected and could go hungry anytime because 266 hectares of agricultural crops have wilted since the last quarter of 2015. Meanwhile, in the whole province of North Cotabato, around 50,000 hectares of corn and rice became unusable due to extreme temperature leading to agricultural losses up to a billion pesos. It has resulted in 25,000 farmers losing their only source of food and income,” Bañez said. “The probe raised the same question we are asking since the first day of the protest. Where is the President? Where are his secretaries and their agencies responsible in aiding the farmers? The farmers are already starving for seven months and no action was done to relieve them from the effects of the drought.”  Bañez noted that there is a total of P131 billion from the Department of Agriculture (DA), six-attached agencies, four agencies under the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), the National Food Authority (NFA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management also known as the Calamity Fund, all of which could have been used to satisfy the demand of the farmers. READ MORE...RELATED, Chiz dares PNoy: Break your silence on Kidapawan incident... RELATED, PNoy remains silent about kidapawan...

ALSO: SATURDAY's ABU SAYYAF CLASH - DEAFENING SILENCE FROM THE PRESIDENT ON BASILAN TRAGEDY


APRIL 11 -COLUMN BY ELLEN TORDESILLAS: SCREENGRABBED PHOTO -More than 20 Filipinos died Saturday in a clash between government forces and the terrorist group Abu Sayaf in Barangay Baguindan Tipo-Tipo in Basilan. As I was writing this piece at 5 p.m. Sunday, there was no statement from the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. I texted his spokespersons but didn’t get any reply. I opened the TV for the vice-presidential debate and I saw the President endorsing Mar Roxas as his successor and Leni Robredo as vice president. Does the President know of the tragedy in Basilan? An ABS-CBN report quoting Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Major Felimon Tan said at least 23 were killed and more than 70 others were wounded when the 44th Infantry Battalion and the 4th Special Forces Battalion engaged in a 10-hour gun-battle against at least a hundred armed members of the Abu Sayyaf group. Tan said of the 23 dead, 18 were soldiers while 53 others were wounded. At least five bandits were killed including a Moroccan-based terrorist identified as Mohammad Khattab, as well as one of the sons of ASG top commander Isnilon Hapilon, identified as Ubaida Hapilon. Will this be another April 1 Kidapawan tragedy where three farmers died and many were wounded including policemen when the latter tried to disperse farmers rallying for rice because of poor harvest due to El Niño that was met by a deafening silence by the President. After a week, Aquino said he didn’t know about the Kidapawan tragedy. No one told him, he said. It is not funny. If Aquino is again doing a Mamasapano for the 18 dead soldiers, at least two presidential candidates issued statements of outrage over the massacre. READ MORE...POLITICAL REPORT, MAGUINDANAO--GOING 7 YEARS...

ALSO: After a week, ‘Noynoying’ Noy breaks silence on Kidapawan
[“You know, my work is really 24/7, 365 days so sometimes even my body already complains,” Aquino said without disclosing what became of the meeting that was moved to Monday, April 4. Aquino claimed that he came down with the flu on the evening of April 1 and his condition was aggravated by a bum stomach the following day, so his doctor ordered him to bed.]


APRIL 10 -
AFTER a week of silence, President Benigno Aquino III finally addressed the controversy of the deadly dispersal of 6,000 drought-stricken farmers who set up a barricade in Kidapawan City to protest government inaction and demand food aid. But the farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas on Saturday dismissed Aquino’s explanation as “stupid and cheap” and accused the President of “noynoying,” or pretending to be busy while doing nothing. Speaking at a Liberal Party campaign rally at the Makati Coliseum Friday night, Aquino said he learned of the farmers’ protest in Kidapawan City only on April 1, or two days after The Standard first published the story along with other online news outlets. He said he was in Cavite for the turnover of a newly-built school building and a Liberal Party campaign rally for the administration standard bearer Manuel Roxas II.  Thank you for having me. President Benigno Aquino thanks the Filipino people for giving him the opportunity to serve in the highest office in the land during the 74th commemoration of the Araw ng Kagitingan in Pilar, Bataan. “On our way home to Manila, [Interior and Local Government] Secretary Mel [Senen] Sarmiento mentioned he was to fly to Kidapawan the next day so I asked, “Anong gagawin mo sa Kidapawan [What are you going to do in Kidapawan]?” Aquino said in his speech. “The truth is, that was the first time I’ve heard there was a barricade that blocked the highway in Kidapawan and a violent dispersal took place,” Aquino said, apparently unaware that the highway linking Cotabato and Davao had been blockaded for two days.  However, Aquino claimed that he came down with the flu on the evening of April 1 and his condition was aggravated by a bum stomach the following day, so his doctor ordered him to bed. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

CHR asks police to review cases of Kidapawan protesters


One of the injured farmers, Roland Jampas, was rushed to a hospital for treatment. File photo

MANILA, APRIL 11, 2016 (PHILSTAR)  (philstar.com) | Updated April 7, 2016 - The Commission on Human Rights on Thursday urged the Philippine National Police in Cotabato province to review the cases of 81 people it arrested after a violent dispersal of a farmers' protest in Kidapawan City on April 1, saying pregnant women and the elderly were among those detained.

At a Senate hearing held in Davao City, Human Rights Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana confirmed that the commission found that three pregnant women were among those detained. Aside from the pregnant women, "a lot of senior citizens have been picked up," she said.

"I am actually appealing to the PNP to review the cases filed against these people," she said, adding the detainees had been held by the police for a week.

She said that the commission is still conducting its investigation into the dispersal, where at least two farmers died and more than a hundred were injured.

"There are indeed disturbing findings that we are still pursuing," she said, adding the CHR expects to release its report on the incident within two weeks.

Senators also questioned the detention of the protesters, especially of the women and senior citizens, whom police said were caught in the act of assaulting police.

READ MORE...

"I find it hard to believe that pregnant women and senior citizens are brave enough to spearhead attacks against the PNP," Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, a candidate for vice president, said.

Cayetano said the police should have released the detainees since they can only be held for 36 hours unless a case has been filed.

The police said, however, that complaints had been filed against the detainees at the city prosecutor's office before the 36 hours had lapsed. Senior Superintendent Rex Dela Rosa, chief of the regional investigation and detective management division, said that the complaints were still at the prosecutor's office.

Cayetano said that the police should have released the protesters after the complaints were filed since the court has yet to issue arrest warrants for them.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate justice and human rights committee holding the hearing, said that the delay was depriving the protesters of their rights.

"Direct assault is clearly bailable, but with the PNP delaying it, the detainees are being denied of their right to post bail," he said.

It was later learned that cases had already been filed in court and that the Public Attorney's Office is already working with the farmers.

Lawyer Ephraim Cortez of the National Union of People's Lawyers later said that bail for the farmers has been set at P12,000. Pimentel said the Senate committee will back a motion to lower the bail for the farmers. Jonathan de Santos

VIDEO FROM INDAY ESPINA VARONA (ABS-CBN column) - Obscenity beyond hunger (at PHNO Hometown/Opinion Section this issue)

 

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

RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

2 top N. Cotabato cops sacked over Kidapawan dispersal incident by Philippines News Agency April 8, 2016 Share40 Tweet1 Share0 Email0 Share67 image: http://www.mb.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Kidapawan12.jpg


Kidapawan1 (MB File Photo)

KIDAPAWAN CITY –- The Philippine National Police Region 12 (PNP–12) has relieved two of its top police officers in North Cotabato province concomitant to the controversial April 1 dispersal of thousands of protesting farmers who blockaded the segment of the Cotabato – Davao highway here to stage their plight on the harsh effects of the drought-spawned El Niño phenomenon.

The protesting peasants withheld traffic flow along the highway for four days prior to the chaotic dispersal that claimed the lives of two farmers and wounding of over a hundred peasants and anti-riot cops alike.

P/Sr. Supt. Danilo Peralta, administrative head of PNP – 12, confirmed Friday the relief of P/Sr. Supt. Alexander Tagum as the provincial director and P/Supt. John Calinga as Kidapawan police director.

The relief order stemmed from the law enforcement operation currently being investigated by the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Peralta stressed that such directive is a standard operating procedure to any officer that will undergo investigation.

The same order stipulated that P/Supt. Jose Briones, concurrent provincial police operations chief, would seat as North Cotabato police officer-in-charge while P/Supt Noel Kinazo, provincial police office deputy chief for administration, acts as Calinga’s replacement.

Both Tagum and Calinga are mandated to submit themselves to the ongoing investigation, Peralta said.

This developed as the remaining 1,114 farmers staying at the compound of a local church returned home on Thursday (April 07, 2016) to their respective communities in the province.

The last batch of farmers was part of a much bigger 6,000 – strong peasant group that clashed with 200 anti-riot cops during the disputed police dispersal operation.

Jerry Alborme, provincial chair of Kilusang Magbubukid Ng Pilipinas, said each peasant went home with 25 kilos of rice over donations that reached 1,223 bags following the dispersal incident.

He said that out of the total rice donation, 245 bags were consumed during the rally while the residual 978 bags had been divided among the persistent colleagues, which include 1,024 at the United Methodist Church compound, 79 who are currently detained and 11 others confined at the hospital.

Alborme said upcoming rice donations would be coursed through the Philippine National Red Cross and partners due to existing Commission on Election regulations that prohibits government entities on releasing funds in context to the May 9, 2016 national and local polls.


MANILA STANDARD

Blockade lifted; Cotabato protesters given rice posted April 07, 2016 at 12:01 am by John Paolo Bencito and Christine F. Herrera


CAMP Crame rally. Militant students and workers hold a rally at the headquarters of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame Quezon City on Wednesday to demand justice for the farmers of Kidapawan, North Cotabato. MANNY PALMERO

KIDAPAWAN lifted their blockade Wednesday on a Methodist Church where protesting farmers had sought refuge after their protest was broken up violently on April 1, and some of the protesters began returning to their homes with sacks of donated rice after religious groups and other organizations intervened.

“For now, there’s an agreement to pull out the police from the church,” said Manuel de Leon, president of Notre Dame of Kidapawan. “There will just be a police presence to patrol the traffic on the highway. The KMP [The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas] assured us they will not go back to the streets.”

“Many [of the] policemen were my students. We said let’s talk, the problem is hunger because of the drought. That’s why we need reconciliation. Let’s not go back to the streets, let’s not waste more lives,” he added.

Antonio Flores, secretary-general of the KMP, confirmed that the farmers were being allowed to return to their homes with rice donations from various groups.

Last week, the farmers blocked the Davao-Cotabato highway for four days to dramatize their plight after five months of drought, and to prod the government into helping them. Police broke up the protest violently on Friday, leaving two farmers (not three as originally reported) dead by gunshot wound.

Kidapawan Mayor Joseph Evangelista, who had ordered the dispersal, was against the idea of letting the farmers in the Methodist Church go home, saying they needed to identify and arrest the leaders of the protest.

He also said not all of the protesters were farmers.

“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,]” Evangelista said in an earlier interview.

READ MORE...

On Wednesday, the National Anti-Poverty Commission slammed various agencies for playing the blame game in the aftermath of the Kidapawan deaths, and said the government failed to protect North Cotabato residents from El Niño and climate change.

“Blood is already on the hands of the government agencies who failed to deliver immediate relief to the people of North Cotabato. If they do not act now, and justice is not served, more blood will be spilled from a nation they failed to protect against El Niño and climate change,” NAPC Vice Chairperson for the Basic Sectors Ruperto Aleroza, said in a statement.

“The Kidapawan demonstration reflects the magnitude of the El Niño crisis. Urgent adaptation efforts at both national and local levels are necessary to cushion the adverse impacts affecting thousands of hectares of farmlands in Mindanao and other parts of the country.

“Officials continue to defend their use of lethal force to break up the violent protests, blaming the carnage that killed three people on communist insurgents.”

Aleroza said that irregardless of political color, the local government should not have gone overboard in quelling the farmer’s blockade at a major highway.

“The violent dispersal of hungry farmers seeking the release of 15,000 sacks of rice and food subsidies was a violation of the protesters’ right to food and peaceful assembly. Provoked or not, the demonstration was a legitimate form of action. Regardless of the rallyists’ affiliations, the use of fire arms by the local police is unnecessary. Regardless of the political motivations of the protestors, the use of bullets is intolerable,” he added.

The NAPC executive added that the demonstrations only reflect the “magnitude of the El Niño crisis” and the government’s lack of commitment to agriculture.

An independent investigation organized by the human rights group Karapatan and the KMP said the economic problems of the farmers in the region were realities the local and national government neglected to address.

“There is no denying... the extent of the damage caused by the drought, and the untold suffering and hunger brought to the affected farmers. These expose the lies being peddled by the government belittling the effect of the drought in the farmlands to this date,” the national fact-finding mission said.

At a press briefing in Kidapawan City, the mission said farmers Arnel Takyawan and Loreto Lizardo, who were part of the highway protest, had seen a police sniper allegedly positioned on top of the fire truck firing towards the direction of the protesters.

The fact-finding mission added that there were two farmers who died from the bloody dispersal, contrary to earlier reports that there were three who were killed.

Flores told The Standard that they were questioning the death certificate of one of the fatalities, which said the farmer died from injuries. The groups said they have talked with witnesses who said that the farmer was shot.

The probe added that 10 individuals that were wounded from the police shooting spree remain confined in hospitals in Kidapawan, while at least 70 individuals were illegally arrested and are currently detained at the Kidapawan City Gym and Kidapawan Convention Center for charges of direct assault, including some bystanders.

Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of human rights group Karapatan and head of the mission, said that President Benigno Aquino III and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala were also responsible for the bloody outcome of the protest.

“The truth of the matter is clear: the government, after a year of first recognizing the drought threat, failed to provide aid, and killed those who dare decry it,” Palabay said.

“By sheer ineptitude, Alcala has failed to remedy the problems brought by the drought, thus pushing the people to extra-legal measures,” she added.

Department of the Interior and Local Government Undersecretary for Public Safety Peter Irving Corvera in Manila vowed a thorough investigation of the violent dispersal of the farmers’ protest last week.

But the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan dismissed the DILG probe, saying it was “devoid of any credibility” after the department handed out medals to the police involved on day after the bloody dispersal.

“How in the world do we expect the PNP to investigate itself?” said Renato Reyes, Bayan secretary-general. “The PNP officials involved were not even relieved immediately after the incident. They were allowed to continue harassing the farmers several days later. They are suspected of planting evidence on a dead protester. This early on, there are already clear signs of a cover-up,” he added.

Ephraim Cortez of the National Union of People’s Lawyers agreed that “no credible probe can come from the government” as the police “have already destroyed the crime scene using a bulldozer.”

He also accused the police of burning evidence recovered at the crime scene to evade liability.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate justice and human rights committee, said they want to know how the protests turned bloody on Friday as the Senate investiation into the Kidapawan incident begins in Davao City.

“Farmers in Kidapawan and North Cotabato are hungry because their lands are not productive. They’re not even asking for ‘ulam,’ just rice,” Pimentel said in a television interview over ANC.

“We want to find out why it turned bloody when farmers were only asking for rice,” he added.

Pimentel said that national and local government officials, farmers and non-government organizations were invited to take part in the probe.

Liberal Party vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo meanwhile, asked the government agencies involved to stop pointing fingers and help the farmers first.

“Let’s put all accusations aside. The more important thing here is addressing their needs to show that government is doing something for them,” Robredo said.


Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)

The KMP on Wednesday said at least 10 of the country’s 18 regions will mount a peasant-led “Black Friday” on April 8, and call on voters to junk administration candidate Manuel Roxas II when they go to the polls on May 9.

KMP chairman Rafael Mariano said five regions in Mindanao would take part in the protest, along with Central Luzon, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Negros, and Panay regions.

Mariano said the farmers were outraged by Roxas’ statement that the rally by drought-hit farmers in North Cotabato was instigated by politicians for their own interests.

“This may have been instigated by politicians who wanted something to happen to heighten the issue or raise their ratings,” Roxas said.

Mariano said Roxas’ statement was an outright rejection of the just, legitimate, and moral demands of the North Cotabato farmers’ demand for food aid in the face of the drought brought about by El Nino.


Rafael Mariano, KMP Chair

“It’s a cheap shot aimed to conceal the incompetence and criminal negligence of the Aquino government,” Mariano said.

Recent reports quoted Roxas condemning the bloodshed “both on the law enforcement side and on the side of the protesters.”

“What’s needed here is a comprehensive and intensive investigation into what really happened because there are reports that this rally was not organic, meaning it wasn’t the people of North Cotabato who were there,” Roxas said.

Mariano said: “That’s the most stupid thing we’ve heard from a presidential aspirant. The people do not deserve a totally unqualified and stupid president.”

“While Roxas is obviously a nuisance candidate as shown in the surveys, the Filipino people should junk Roxas on the May 9 polls to seal his fate,” Mariano said.

Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus, who is part of the National Fact Finding and Humanitarian Mission in Kidapawan said “the drought and the hunger are real.”

She called North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Talino-Mendoza and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala “delusional” as the two officials tried to downplay the impact of the long-drawn dry spell in the region.

De Jesus also lambasted LP spokesman Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez, who insisted that the protests were being used for political interests.

“So much time and energy being wasted on futile attempts to deflect accountability and deny beneficiaries of food aid when they could have simply complied with the just demands of North Cotabato farmers,” she said.

“Gutierrez’ insituation that farmers are like sheep led to slaughter is truly reflective of the Liberal Party and Akbayan partylist’s view of peasants, that they cannot think for themselves and cannot fight their own battles. He is no different from North Cotabato Governor Lala Talino-Mendoza, expecting drought victims to be submissive slaves waiting for a few kilos of rice when Mar Roxas finds time to bring his Daang Matuwid gravy train to Cotabato. It was in fact the Liberal Party who intended to use rice distribution as a tactic to force beneficiaries to attend their sorties,” De Jesus said.

Makabayan senatorial candidate Rep. Neri Colmenares said based on the national budget, the province of North Cotabato has at least P321 million in calamity funds for 2016 and the Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund (LDRRMF) which consists of not less than 5 percent of its Internal Revenue Allotment and can only be used upon declaration of state of calamity by the local legislative body.

“Also North Cotabato has an allocation of P6.4 billion for 2016 from the national budget and a state of calamity was declared in the province in January this year mandating the provincial government to allot P321 million as calamity fund. Now where is all these money?” Colmenares said.

He said the farmers’ demand in the Kidapawan barricade was only 15,000 sacks of rice, which would amount to only P27 million if multiplied by an estimated price of P1,600 for a 50-kg sack of rice.

“Why did they let the farmers go hungry when they had billions and billions to deal with this problem?” he added in Filipino.

Vice presidential candidate Francis Escudero lashed out at Cotabato police for filing charges against 43 farmers involved in the protest, saying it showed a lack of compassion.

The KMP, meanwhile, demanded that the police lift the “martial law” conditions in North Cotabato and allow human rights groups and farmers advocates to free those who were illegally arrested and detained.

“Help us release illegally arrested farmers who are detained, help us talk to the wounded who are confined in hospitals, help us find those who are still missing,” Jerome Aba, a member of Suara Bangsamoro and survivor of the Kidapawan incident, said Wedneday.

Aba denounced what he described as “virtual martial law in North Cotabato” that prevents them from reaching and talking to victims in the hospitals and to those under police custody at the Kidapawan gym. – With Macon Ramos-Araneta, Sandy Araneta and Maricel V. Cruz

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

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

North Cotabato governor faces graft raps amid Kidapawan probe By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 9, 2016 - 12:00am 0 13 googleplus0 0


Taliño-Mendoza

MANILA, Philippines - As probes continue on who should be held responsible for the violent dispersal of a farmers’ protest in North Cotabato, the governor of the province, Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza will face court trial for graft.

The case is not connected with the dispersal in Kidapawan. Instead the Office of the Ombudsman yesterday found probable cause to indict Mendoza before the Sandiganbayan over a fuel purchase worth P2.4 million in 2010.

This came just days after Mendoza justified the violent dispersal in Kidapawan City, saying she would take full responsibility for the government’s action. The farmers were reportedly starving and asking for rice from the government after their crops were destroyed by drought due to El Niño.

Two farmers were shot dead and dozens were injured when police dispersed the rally. Scores of police personnel were also injured.

Mendoza will face trial for her role in the allegedly illegal procurement of diesel fuel worth P2.4 million from a gasoline station owned by her mother in 2010 without public bidding.

The investigation showed that Mendoza approved the release of the amount from the provincial funds to pay for 49,526.72 liters of fuel used for one road grader and four dump trucks utilized during a two-day road rehabilitation project.

Graft probers said no public bidding was conducted for the procurement of fuel because Mendoza directly contracted the gas station owned by her mother.

Mendoza will face three counts of violation of Section 3 of the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

In her defense, she said the Taliño Shell Station was the only one willing to sell the fuel on credit as requested by the provincial government.

But Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said “there was no compelling justification for dispensing with the requirement of public bidding.”

“The great disparity between the estimated 552 liters of diesel actually consumed for the two-day road maintenance project in Magpet vis-à-vis the 20,833 liters actually paid for is proof that the fuel-purchase transaction is illegal and that this transaction is obviously a scheme to pocket government funds,” the Office of the Ombudsman said.

READ MORE...

Investigators said “Mendoza made it appear that the diesel fuel was procured and used in a government project when in truth, only a small portion of the fuel was actually used and the rest was converted to cash for the benefit of those who were involved in the fraudulent transaction.”

Mendoza’s lawyer Vincent Paul Montejo said it is unfortunate that the Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to charge her with graft.

“Despite this, Governor Mendoza remains confident that she will be able to address all the ombudsman’s accusations. Any accusation of partiality, preference or bias in favor of any gas station has no basis,” he said.

“What should be borne in mind is that Governor Mendoza is not a member of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC). It follows then that she did not handpick or select any particular station as the province’s supplier for the P2.4-million fuel.

“Contrary to what the ombudsman is saying, the fuel was procured after it went through a form of bidding, allowed under the Government Procurement Act and as recommended by the BAC. Lastly, the ombudsman also ignored evidence that fuel was actually utilized for the province’s road projects,” he added. – With Edith Regalado, John Unson


TRIBUNE

Senate probe reveals Noy’s liability for Kidapawan carnage Written by Gerry Baldo Saturday, 09 April 2016 00:00



The Senate investigation into the violent dispersal of protesting farmers in Kidapawan City has proved the accountability of President Aquino as one of the lead probers accused the administration of lying to the public.

“The Senate probe into the incident showed us one thing: Aquino’s criminal negligence has led our farmers to starve, prompting them to protest. The national government knew about the protest since the first day,” said League of Filipino Students (LFS) national chairman Charisse Bañez as students and other groups took part in the Global Day of Action for Food and Justice.

“We heard a familiar horrible story — a narration of how the government is missing in action when thousands upon thousands of victims of a calamity are desperately asking for help. Just like the people of Eastern Visayas who suffered from typhoon Yolanda, the farmers in North Cotabato were also abandoned by the Aquino regime in the middle of El Niño,” she stressed.

Bañez noted that the farmers were already suffering great damage for seven months and that the local government of North Cotabato even declared a state of calamity in the province.

According to her, the hearing revealed the national government did not respond to the farmers’ plea for help.

“In Kidapawan alone, at least 25 percent of the local population or 11,000 families have been affected and could go hungry anytime because 266 hectares of agricultural crops have wilted since the last quarter of 2015. Meanwhile, in the whole province of North Cotabato, around 50,000 hectares of corn and rice became unusable due to extreme temperature leading to agricultural losses up to a billion pesos. It has resulted in 25,000 farmers losing their only source of food and income,” Bañez said.

“The probe raised the same question we are asking since the first day of the protest. Where is the President? Where are his secretaries and their agencies responsible in aiding the farmers? The farmers are already starving for seven months and no action was done to relieve them from the effects of the drought.”


FACEBOOK PHOTO

Bañez noted that there is a total of P131 billion from the Department of Agriculture (DA), six-attached agencies, four agencies under the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), the National Food Authority (NFA), Philippine Coconut

Authority (PCA), Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management also known as the Calamity Fund, all of which could have been used to satisfy the demand of the farmers.

READ MORE...

As of December 2015, the Department of Budget and Management also announced the P19.2 billion allotment for El Niño.

Bañez said there were no details on these funds and the Aquino government did not provide specific instructions on how to use the money.

“This is like the Yolanda tragedy. There are funds, there are foods, but the people are starving and dying. The Aquino has criminally neglected its duties to the people and the victims of calamities such as this,” she added.

Bañez also said while the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the local governments headed by North Cotabato Gov. Lala Taliño-Mendoza and Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista must be accountable, the Senate hearing showed that the national government is also involved in the violent dispersal.

The youth leader echoed the statements of the provincial governor that there were members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which is directly commanded by Aquino, who were involved in the bloody dispersal.

“It is impossible that the President did not know what was happening in Kidapawan. It is clear that he decided to dismiss our farmers and abandon them to be smothered by his killing machine. Aquino is involved from start to finish and should be immediately held accountable,” said Bañez.

For the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Aquino’s accountability on the Kidapawan incident is further underscored by his continuing silence on the farmers’ demand for food aid and justice.



KMP chairman Rafael Mariano noted that “instead of addressing the impacts of drought and the farmers’ urgent demand for food aid, and punishing the perpetrators, Aquino deliberately remains silent.”

“It’s been a week since the bloody dispersal of farmers in Kidapawan and the President has not spoken a word,” he lamented.

“President Aquino also sends a strong signal to the people that he tolerates and absolves the perpetrators of the cold-blooded murder,” he added.

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano hit back at Malacañang for trying to downplay the people’s clamor for help amid the El Niño.

“Governor Mendoza, who happens to be a Liberal Party member, told us herself during the hearing that their local government wrote a letter to the national government to ask for assistance, but nothing came,” Cayetano said.

“Enough with the lies. We actually have P45 billion worth of funds in the 2016 budget that may be used for projects that will curb the impact of this crisis,” he added.

Cayetano stressed that if the national government had immediately taken action to heed the people’s demands, thousands of farmers would not have staged a protest, and the tragic incident in Kidapawan could have been avoided.

He particularly questioned the absence of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala in the hearing, saying he would have wanted the Cabinet member to explain his statement that the areas where the protesting farmers came from did not suffer much from the El Niño.

“Perhaps Seretary Alcala has his own version of reality? I wanted to ask why he would utter such an insensitive statement. But he didn’t show up at the hearing. This is a national issue, but the national leaders were missing in action,” the senator stressed.

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

RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Chiz dares PNoy: Break your silence on Kidapawan incident by Charissa Luci April 5, 2016 (updated) Share79 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share86


Senator Chiz Escudero speaks with the Manila Bulletin Editors during the hot seat interview with the Vice Presidentiables at Manila Bulletin main office in Intramuros, Manila.(MB File Photo/Camille Ante)

Vice presidential candidate Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero scoffed at President Aquino’s apparent silence on the April 1 bloody dispersal of farmer-protesters in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato.

The vice presidential frontrunner said if he has time to campaign for his bets for the May 9 polls, President Aquino should also have time to speak on the Kidapawan incident that left three people dead and injured over 200 protesters.

“If he is actively campaigning for his bets, President Aquino should also have time to speak now on the bloody incident,” he told reporters in Filipino, shortly after the inauguration of Bahay ni Poe in this highly-urbanized city.

Escudero even branded the April 1 bloody incident as government’s “overkill” response, saying instead of promoting the welfare and rights of country’s food producers, the government deviated from its mandate of protecting their interests.

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

ALSO RELATED FROM MANILA STANDARD

PNoy stays silent about kidapawan posted April 09, 2016 at 12:01 am by Christine F. Herrera and John Paolo Bencito


People’s protest. Renowned actresses Nora Aunor and Monique Wilson join other activists at the Mendiola Bridge in Manila to protest the deadly dispersal of drought-stricken farmers in Kidapawan

ONE week after two farmers were killed in the violent dispersal of a protest in Kidapawan City, President Benigno Aquino III remained silent on the issue—and has not ordered a single sack of rice to be distributed to the drought-hit farmers.

In Manila, some 2,000 protesters, including veteran actors Nora Aunor and Monique Wilson, gathered in Plaza Miranda to denounce the dispersal of hungry farmers who were demanding government food aid amid a five-month drought brought about by the El Niño phenomenon.

The protest was part of a nationwide Black Friday protest campaign to demand #BigasHindiBala—or rice, not bullets.

Even groups that are usually at odds, such as the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and the Sanlakas Coalition were united Friday in demanding full accountability from local and national government officials.

The two umbrella militant groups held separate nationwide protests in their respective strongholds.

Bayan, whose members include Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Bayan Muna, Kabataan, Act Teachers, League of Filipino Students, Courage, Migrante, among others, held rallies in five regions in Mindanao and also in Central Luzon such as Angeles City in Pampanga, Olongapo City, Tarlac City, Isabela province, and also in Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Negros and Panay regions.

The Sanlakas Coalition—Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Partido Lakas ng Masa and Kongreso ng Maralitang Lungsod—participated in Kalampag or Kampanya Laban sa Pagkagutom.

The Sanlakas-led activists did a noise barrange and banged the pots and pans in front of the Agriculture Department’s head office along the Elliptical Road in Quezon City to symbolize their clamor for food security and justice for the Mindanaoan farmers.

Kalampag protests were also simultaneously held in the cities of Calamba, Cebu, Tacloban, Bacolod, Pagadian, Ozamis and Davao.

Bayan described President Aquino’s inaction to the Kidapawan farmers’ plea as “failure in leadership” while Sanlakas called it a “colossal flop,” particularly the President’s P19 billion failed El Niño mitigating measures.

The two groups were particularly incensed that top officials, including North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Lala Taliño-Mendoza, simply dismissed the protest in Kidapawan as a purely police matter and that the hungry farmers were a traffic problem that did not require an immediate political and practical solution.

“Today marks one week since the government opened fire on protesting farmers in Kidapawan, North Cotabato. Groups are taking to the streets and social media to galvanize solidarity for the farmers in Kidapawan and other areas affected by severe drought,” Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. said.

“One week after the incident, no one from the local and national government is taking full responsibility for what happened last April 1 in Kidapawan. Meanwhile, some 71 people remain detained and are facing various charges. Not one sack of rice has been distributed by the provincial or national government to the farmers in the aftermath of the violent dispersal. The President remains silent on the issue. There are already tellsaid.

The 700 sacks that were distributed by the United Methodist Church to the farmers who sought shelter in the church after the April 1 dispersal came from donations of private individuals and non-government organizations.

“The bloodshed in Kidapawan could have been avoided if not for the gross negligence and incompetence of the task force that claimed two lives and left hundreds injured last week,” said Leody de Guzman, president of the militant BMP, a founding member of Sanlakas.

READ MORE...

De Guzman said the task force formed in September last year composed of Cabinet-level agencies under the Office of the President led by the Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan was a “colossal flop.”

“The much-vaunted El Niño preparations by the Aquino government since last year have been exposed to be a P19-billion fiasco by the very blood of our starving farmers. If only they were not too busy campaigning for the administration’s bets then they should have monitored that the water crisis was worsening and should have acted upon it promptly,” De Guzman said.

Reyes said they protested to demand full accountability from government officials.

Based on the Senate hearing on the incident, Reyes said, no one took full responsibility for the dispersal and the firing of automatic weapons on unarmed protesters.

“The officials from North Cotabato were engaged in finger-pointing and obfuscation. Everyone either washed their hands or raised secondary issues as to why the protesters were dispersed,” he said.

“For the top officials including Governor Lala Taliño-Mendoza, the protest in Kidapawan was a purely law enforcement matter. The hungry farmers were a traffic problem that did not require an immediate political and practical solution. Mendoza said that it was up to the police to determine when the dispersal would be carried out. That right there is failure of leadership on the part of the provincial and city government,” Reyes added.

He held the local government and police ultimately responsible for the violent dispersal of farmer protesters.

“Charges should be filed against these officials, especially the armed elements of the Philippine National Police who shot at protesters. The national government meanwhile is also ultimately liable for Kidapawan carnage because of its criminal neglect of the victims of El Niño,” Reyes said.

“Not only does the El Nino bring severe droughts to the countryside but we are also looking at imminent food crisis specially since Mindanao is the country’s food basket. To downplay the farmers’ pleas will likely have dire consequences on our food security on top of the already devastating effects on their lives and livelihoods,” De Guzman warned.

De Guzman cited government records that show Mindanao provinces produce 25 percent of the country’s rice, more than half of the corn production, 81 percent of bananas, and 75 percent of the total coffee output and has contributed 59 percent to overall coconut yield among others.

“Concretely, we urge the Aquino administration to declare all 68 provinces affected be placed under a state of calamity and expedite the release of the much needed calamity and the standby quick response funds to counter the fast-spreading water and looming food crisis,” the Sanlakas leader said.

So far, the government has declared only four provinces, including North Cotobato and the city of Zamboanga under a state of calamity.

The groups’ leaders also took turns lambasting Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala for his recent statements in a televised interview where he claimed that the farmers’ conditions in North Cotobato were not as bad as it seems.

“If so, then we challenge Alcala to live on poisonous wild yam even for a week, like the desperate farmers there are eating and repeat his statement on live television,” said Oyette Zacate, national officer of Sanlakas.

Reyes also slammed Alcala for his continued denial of the gravity of the problem in North Cotabato and other drought-stricken areas.

“President Aquino has kept quiet on the issue and has not made public any instructions to his officials on resolving the demands of the farmers,” Reyes said.

The KMP said President Aquino’s accountability on the Kidapawan massacre is further underscored by his continuing silence on the farmers’ demand for food aid and justice.

KMP chairperson Rafael Mariano said instead of addressing the impacts of drought and the farmers’ urgent demand for food aid, and punishing the perpetrators, “Aquino deliberately remains silent.”

“It’s been a week since the bloody dispersal of farmers in Kidapawan and the President has not spoken a word. His silence further emboldens murderers Alcala and Gov. Taliño-Mendoza as revealed by their shameless cover-up of the truth and arrogance against farmers,” Mariano said.

“President Aquino also sends a strong signal to the people that he tolerates and absolves the perpetrators of the cold-blooded murder,” he added.

“Aquino’s deafening silence is tantamount to tacit approval of Alcala’s corruption and Mendoza’s madness,” Mariano said noting that “the DA’s drought mitigation program is designed for corruption and not the immediate relief for farmers and the strategic recovery of agriculture.”

“The impunity promoted by Aquino underscores his accountability on the Kidapawan carnage. The President is allowing farmers to starve and die of hunger. He is guilty of incompetence, criminal negligence, and genocide,” the peasant leader said.

Gabriela, for its part, said women from all over the country joined solidarity gatherings and rallies calling for justice amid the brutal dispersal of farmers’ protests in Kidapawan last April 1.

At the Global Day of Action for Food, Land and Justice, Gabriela Women’s Party members and One Billion Rising Global Director Monique Wilson echoed farmers’ call for rice not bullets and carried placards bearing the call #BigasHindiBala.

Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Emmi De Jesus, who came back from the recently concluded national fact finding and humanitarian mission in Kidapawan, said, “There is no justifying the government’s neglect of drought-hit farmers and the brutal response to the farmers’ barricade. There were clear violations and the buck does not stop at Senior Superintendent Alex Tagum who led police operatives last Friday. Furthermore the continuing violation of rights—the illegal detention of protesters and the denial of calamity aid should stop. Government officials who deprived farmer communities of calamity aid for the past six months should be made accountable.”

De Jesus, Mariano, Reyes, De Guzman, Aunor and Wilson called for the immediate release of 70 farmers illegally detained at the Kidapawan Gym and Convention Center, including four minors and 25 women, three among them pregnant.

At Thursday’s Senate hearing in Davao, De Jesus said, it was revealed that a female detainee was rushed to the hospital and needed treatment for tetanus.

“The violations have not stopped. Even now, the violation of farmers’ rights continues,” De Jesus said.

The women’s partylist group also cried foul over attempts to discredit farmers by demonizing their supporters, including Gabriela Womens’ Party officials.

“The women farmers of Mindanao are our constituents and it is their voice, as a marginalized sector, that we vowed to amplify. Women and children were among the hardest hit and most affected by the drought. All they wanted was to bring home some rice so they can survive for another day,” De Jesus said.

The Palace said Friday the government is always open and ready to answer questions during the Senate investigation of the Kidapawan incident.

“The government is always open and ready to explain and make everyone understand because what is affected is the welfare of the poorest people,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., in a statement issued.

Earlier, an international group of lawyers from more than 20 countries denounced the police attack against thousands of farmers in Kidapawan on April 1, saying it violates international human rights treaties that the Philippines has committed to uphold.

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers, a non-governmental organization with consultative status in the United Nations, also criticized Aquino for his silence over the attack, which signifies that he tacitly supports the illegal police action.

“The actions of the Filipino police violate the rights to life and to be free from arbitrary detention enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the right to food guaranteed by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” IADL said through its president, Jeanne Mirrer.

On April 1, police armed with M-16 rifles broke up a four-day blockade by about 6,000 farmers on the Cotabato-Davao highway, killing two protesters.

The farmers had gathered to press the government into giving them food aid amid a five-month drought that had left them and their families hungry.

Some 116 people from both sides were hurt, and about 78 farmers were arrested and detained.

Some 3,000 others sought refuge in a Methodist Church, which was quickly surrounded by heavily armed police.

Presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe said Friday that no government should ever wait for its people to beg for food.

The senator said the government should be more proactive in providing aid to the poor.

“Many of our countrymen are still hungry, and this is unacceptable. There is a need for a government who will go to them,” she said.

On Friday, Interiro Secretary Mel Senen Sariento said they welcome any complaints or charges stemming from the dispersal of farmers in Kidapawan City last week.

Sarmiento, who distributed medals to the police involved in the dispersal one day after the incident, said his department was committed to getting to the bottom of the protest.

“As part of our democratic processes, we respect the right of anyone to press charges against the DILG and the PNP, but this will not affect the government’s resolve to get into the bottom of the Kidapawan incident,” he said. – With Sandy Araneta and Macon Ramos-Araneta


MALAYA BY Ellen Tordesillas

DEAFENING SILENCE FROM THE PRESIDENT ON BASILAN TRAGEDY By Ellen Tordesillas April 10, 2016 DO we still have a President?


BY ELLEN TORDESILLAS

WATCH THE ABS-CBN VIDEO NEWS:

 
Sa Basilan, 23 ang patay at higit 70 ang sugatan sa bakbakan ng mga sundalo at Abu Sayyaf noong Sabado. Kabilang sa mga napatay ang isang foreign bomb expert. Nagpa-Patrol, RJ Rosalado. TV Patrol, Linggo, Abril 10, 2016

MALAYA COLUMN - Two soldiers are among the dead, while the Abu Sayyaf has 18 fatalities, the military added.

Thirty-one soldiers have also been wounded in the clashes.

The fighting erupted when government troops engaged a group of about 60 Abu Sayyaf fighters in Sitio Pansul, Barangay Silangkum in Tipo-Tipo.

More than 20 Filipinos died Saturday in a clash between government forces and the terrorist group Abu Sayaf in Barangay Baguindan Tipo-Tipo in Basilan.

As I was writing this piece at 5 p.m.

Sunday, there was no statement from the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. I texted his spokespersons but didn’t get any reply.

I opened the TV for the vice-presidential debate and I saw the President endorsing Mar Roxas as his successor and Leni Robredo as vice president.

Does the President know of the tragedy in Basilan?


THE PRESIDENT

An ABS-CBN report quoting Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Major Felimon Tan said at least 23 were killed and more than 70 others were wounded when the 44th Infantry Battalion and the 4th Special Forces Battalion engaged in a 10-hour gun-battle against at least a hundred armed members of the Abu Sayyaf group.

Tan said of the 23 dead, 18 were soldiers while 53 others were wounded. At least five bandits were killed including a Moroccan-based terrorist identified as Mohammad Khattab, as well as one of the sons of ASG top commander Isnilon Hapilon, identified as Ubaida Hapilon.

Will this be another April 1 Kidapawan tragedy where three farmers died and many were wounded including policemen when the latter tried to disperse farmers rallying for rice because of poor harvest due to El Niño that was met by a deafening silence by the President.

After a week, Aquino said he didn’t know about the Kidapawan tragedy. No one told him, he said.

It is not funny.

If Aquino is again doing a Mamasapano for the 18 dead soldiers, at least two presidential candidates issued statements of outrage over the massacre.

READ MORE...

Sen. Grace Poe condemned the “the brutal and treacherous murder of our troops.”

“These terrorists should be immediately pursued and crushed by the full might of our military and police forces, with due regard for the safety of the innocent civilians,” she said.

She also urged the public “to be vigilant in reporting to authorities those groups and individuals, including public officials, who support and coddle the Abu Sayyaf and other armed groups for their selfish gains at the expense of peace and security. They should be exposed and answer for their criminal acts.”

Even Mar Roxas, through his spokesperson, Rep. Barry Gutierrez, said something about the tragedy.

He noted that the tragedy happened as the entire country was commemorating the Day of Valor, (Araw ng Kagitingan).

“The Daang Matuwid Coalition celebrates their courage, and wishes to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of our fallen soldiers. We are one with those who honor their sacrifice, grieve for their demise, and seek justice for their deaths at the hands of the bandits of the Abu Sayyaf. To all the soldiers who took part in the battle in Basilan, thank you for your service, your heroism will not be forgotten, “Roxas statement said.

Vice-Presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. called on the AFP to disclose the details of the Basilan encounter.

“Here were go again. We are again in the dark of what happened,” he said noting of the country’s experience with the ill-fated Mamasapano operation which led to the killing of 44 members of the Special Action Force.

He said, “We need a full picture of the encounter. We should not hide these details. The Filipino people and most especially the families of the soldiers killed and wounded deserve to know the whole truth.” ***

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

POLITICS REPORT  FROM MALAYA BY Dahli Aspillera

MAGUINDANAO--GOING 7 YEARS By Dahli Aspillera April 10, 2016


BY DHALI ASPILLERA

THE hand of Vice President Jejomar Binay was raised by ex-Maguindanao vice governor Sajid Islam Ampatuan who is campaigning for mayor of Shariff Aguak, the provincial capital and known stronghold of the Ampatuans. Sajid Islam Ampatuan is released on a P11.6 Million bail in connection with the Maguindanao massacre.

VP Binay and the Ampatuans showed political comraderie at the proclamation rally of Binay’s UNA Party in Talayan. Binay acknowledged likewise the presence of Mamasapano Mayor Benzar Ampatuan, also a cousin. Sajid Islam Ampatuan is son of Ampatuan clan patriarch Andal Ampatuan Sr., who was tagged as among the masterminds of the massacre. Following the proclamation rally of local candidates in Talayan, the Ampatuans were seen escorting Binay to the provincial headquarters of UNA in Talayan where they had a meal with other local candidates.


Ampatuans endorse Binay during proclamation rally

Sajid Islam Ampatuan’s brothers include former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Zaldy Ampatuan, former Shariff Aguak mayor Anwar Ampatuan Sr., and former mayor of Datu Unsay, Andal Ampatuan Jr. All three brothers are in detention in connection with that massacre.

There are 38 candidates surnamed Ampatuan in that region, half of whom are endorsed by Jejomar Binay’s political party, UNA.

They included two candidates for provincial board members, Norodin Ampatuan and Sarip Ampatuan as well as four candidates for mayor: Sajid Islam Ampatuan for Shariff Aguak; Bai Zandria Ampatuan for Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Benzar Ampatuan for Mamasapano and Bai Ampatuan for the town of Datu Hoffer Ampatuan.

Three vice mayoralty candidates, including Zaldy Ampatuan’s wife Johaira Ampatuan (running in Datu Hoffer Ampatuan), and 10 other candidates for councilor are also under VP Binay’s UNA.

The administration Liberal Party has seven local candidates surnamed Ampatuan, including Marop, who is running against Sajid Islam Ampatuan for mayor of Shariff Aguak.

PDP-Laban and the Nationalist People’s Coalition each have three local candidates surnamed Ampatuan, while one is running under Aksyon Party. Five are independent.

Asked about the decision of the party to ally with the Ampatuans, particularly Sajid Islam Ampatuan who is facing charges in connection with the Maguindanao massacre, UNA spokesman Mon Ilagan said the local candidates here know their politics more than the members of the party on the national level.

“We leave it to them their choices of candidates, in this case it is UNA gubernatorial candidate Ali Midtimbang and his team who have chosen Sajid Ampatuan.”

UNA is fielding Midtimbang, father-in-law of Zaldy Ampatuan, against reelectionist Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu whose wife, sisters and other relatives were ambushed and killed by suspected members of the private army of the Ampatuans in that Nov. 23, 2009 massacre. Fifty-eight people, including 32 media members covering the Maguindanao political scen3, were massacred in that ambush.


MANILA STANDARD

‘Noynoying’ Noy breaks silence posted April 10, 2016 at 12:01 am by Christine F. Herrera and John Paolo Bencito
 


Aquino claimed that he came down with the flu on the evening of April 1 and his condition was aggravated by a bum stomach the following day, so his doctor ordered him to bed.

AFTER a week of silence, President Benigno Aquino III finally addressed the controversy of the deadly dispersal of 6,000 drought-stricken farmers who set up a barricade in Kidapawan City to protest government inaction and demand food aid.

But the farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas on Saturday dismissed Aquino’s explanation as “stupid and cheap” and accused the President of “noynoying,” or pretending to be busy while doing nothing.

Speaking at a Liberal Party campaign rally at the Makati Coliseum Friday night, Aquino said he learned of the farmers’ protest in Kidapawan City only on April 1, or two days after The Standard first published the story along with other online news outlets.

He said he was in Cavite for the turnover of a newly-built school building and a Liberal Party campaign rally for the administration standard bearer Manuel Roxas II.

Thank you for having me. President Benigno Aquino thanks the Filipino people for giving him the opportunity to serve in the highest office in the land during the 74th commemoration of the Araw ng Kagitingan in Pilar, Bataan.

“On our way home to Manila, [Interior and Local Government] Secretary Mel [Senen] Sarmiento mentioned he was to fly to Kidapawan the next day so I asked, “Anong gagawin mo sa Kidapawan [What are you going to do in Kidapawan]?” Aquino said in his speech.

“The truth is, that was the first time I’ve heard there was a barricade that blocked the highway in Kidapawan and a violent dispersal took place,” Aquino said, apparently unaware that the highway linking Cotabato and Davao had been blockaded for two days.

However, Aquino claimed that he came down with the flu on the evening of April 1 and his condition was aggravated by a bum stomach the following day, so his doctor ordered him to bed.

READ MORE...

He claimed he wanted to resolve the Kidapawan situation and immediately sought a meeting with concerned officials that weekend.

A separate meeting with government officials about the April 2 power outage at the Naia Terminal 3 was also sought by the President last Sunday, April 3, he said.

The two meetings, however, were pushed back to Monday, April 4, since the officials were not yet ready to give their briefings, Aquino said.

“Our people only have Sunday to rest but I was really eager to start resolving all these incidents,” Aquino said.

But Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. reported back to him and said concerned but unidentified officials were not ready to give him a briefing, so Aquino moved the meeting on Monday.

“You know, my work is really 24/7, 365 days so sometimes even my body already complains,” Aquino said without disclosing what became of the meeting that was moved to Monday, April 4.

But the day after Aquino’s explanation, KMP chairperson Rafael Mariano was not convinced at Aquino’s justification only shows incompetence and apathy to the plight of the people.

“Finally, after a week, the President broke his silence on the Kidapawan carnage. However, the President’s statement confirmed that he was ‘Noynoying’ all along,” said KMP chairperson Rafael Mariano.

“The haciendero President’s justification is a substantiation of sheer incompetence and apathy, coupled with brazen lies and cheap alibi,” Mariano added.

“Aquino’s statement betrays his weak leadership, indecisiveness, and downright stupidity,” Mariano said.

Mariano noted that as of Saturday, a week after Aquino supposedly learned of the incident, not one sack of rice has been distributed to the drought-hit farmers, who demanded 15,000 sacks of rice for as many farmer-families to alleviate their hunger.

The farmers received 700 sacks of rice from private donors.

“It took Aquino two days to call for a meeting that he himself postponed because according to the President, ‘if they are not ready, nothing will come out of that meeting and the gathering of data will further be delayed.’ Isn’t that stupid?” Mariano asked.

“This confirms that even after being informed of the violent dispersal, the President tolerated the killings and harassments, and continuously tolerates the starvation, illegal arrest and detention of farmers,” said the KMP leader, whose members included those who survived the violently dispersed barricade.

“Until now, Aquino is silent on the impact of the prolonged drought and hunger, the just, legitimate, and moral demand for food aid, and the calls for justice,” Mariano stressed.


SILENT PRESIDENT

The KMP called on farmers and the people to continue seeking justice for the victims of Kidapawan violent dispersal and hold President Aquino and all the perpetrators accountable

“The impunity promoted by Aquino underscores his accountability on the Kidapawan carnage. The President is allowing farmers to starve and die of hunger. He is guilty of incompetence, criminal negligence, and genocide,” Mariano said.

“Aquino’s days are numbered. He will pay dearly for his crimes against the peasantry,” Mariano warned.

As this developed, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate called on authorities for the immediate release on “humanitarian grounds” of elderly and minor detainees nabbed by police in Kidapawan, North Cotabato.

“This is not valor. This is shameful. The detention of the pregnant, elderly, and minors and charging them as perpetrators of the violence in Kidapawan is both ludicrous and infuriating,” the Mindanao-based solon said.

“Perhaps they were most defenseless and vulnerable against the violence of the police forces that’s why they can easily throw them in jail. We demand their immediate release even on humanitarian grounds,” Zarate said.

He said the detention of the elderly and minors only proves the lies being peddled by the government and its apologist to cover up the carnage.

“When we look at these people whom the police claimed instigated and caused that bloodbath, we can see through the lies and black propaganda hurled against the hungry farmers. Are these the violent, armed rebels that the police harped about? Elderly women and children? It is, again, ridiculous. No one with an iota of common sense would buy that blatant lie,” Zarate pointed out.

“The President’s ignorance of the hunger situation of his constituents is unacceptable as it is stupidity,” Zarate said.

“Our hungry farmers have been subjected to multiple injustices: they were ignored despite their dire need for food, their ranks and cause vilified, they were peppered with bullets, and then thrown in jail. These injustices against the Kidapawan farmers must be stopped,” he said.

“In sharp contrast to what we celebrate today – the acts of bravery and sacrifices of our forebears in defending our country and protecting our people – the police officers and local officials involved in the Kidapawan carnage are a shameful and dreadful embarrassment of the proud history of our heroes,” Zarate said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2016 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE