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1killed, 33 others hurt as cops disperse farmers' barricade

Local News • 23:11 PM Fri Apr 1, 2016
1,725
By: 
Edwin Fernandez with reports from RAdyo Bida Kidapawan
One of the injured farmers following bloody dispersal. (Photo from Kidapawan Ctiy community Facebook page)

KIDAPAWAN CITY –- Police authorities serving a dispersal
order to thousands of farmers camping along portions of the national highway were
attack by protesters, turning what was envisioned to be a peaceful dispersal into
bloody encounter that injured both farmers and law enforcers.

However, the commotion left one farmer dead and at least 33
others wounded, including 20 police officers.

Norma Capuyan, speaking for the militant Apo Sandawa Lumadnong
Panaghiusa sa North Cotabato, a farmers organization, said the police opened
fire on some 5,000 farmers asking for rice from the government as they have
nothing to eat due to dry spell.
At 10:30 in the morning, about 500 police officers tried to
disperse the crowd blocking the major highway because of lack of permit to
rally, according to North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza.
But she said the farmers resisted and attack the law enforcers,
triggering a common and a series of explosions.
A farmer allegedlydied on the spot.
His name was not immediately available as of press time.
Mendoza insisted the violence erupted when the farmers attacked
the police. She said her directive to the police was to exercise maximum
tolerance.
Mendoza 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.
The police, she said, was accompanied by social welfare workers
who were to bring the children and minors out of the barricade.
Mendoza said the farmers were only given to hold rally by the
city government of Kidawapan for Monday only but the protesters, demanding
government food aid after they became unproductive due to dry spell, 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 stones,
metals toward the law enforcers. One of
the farmers allegedly had a hand he used in shooting a police officer who was
injured.
”The first shot came from the protesters,” Gov. Mendoza was quoted as saying.Neri Colmenares, speaking over a local radio station in Kidapawan, condemned the atrocities against the farmers. What kind of government is this? They address a calamity with a bloodier calamity,” Colmenares said.Vice presidential aspirant Peter Cayetano, issued a statement, describing the incident as Kidapawan carnage. A hungry people demanding food do not deserve to be shot, Pete Lavina, speaking for Duterte-Cayetano tandem, said in a statement released after the incident. We call on the Aquino government to immediately order all those involved in the shooting to be disarmed, investigated and dealt with the full might and extent of the law, Lavina said, urgin the Commission on Human Rights tocondemn this barbaric act. An unarmed, defenseless throng of people asking for food poses no danger. In fact they are in danger.Why, oh why should government resort to this state violence?What is happening to our country?Why meet with state violence the clamor for change – a change of the way things and the affairs of the state is run by the government.We cannot blame the people to be angry with their government, he added.TheBagong Alyansang Makabayan, in a statement said one of its officials in Kidapawan City was among those injured. Sheena Duazo of Davao City said she was rescued by media friends and former North Cotabato Gov. Emmanuel Pinol after she was hit in the headby stone from a police dispersal team.Pedro Arnado, leader of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista arrived at the protest site along with a social welfare officer to rescue the minors.Suddenly, the fire truck started firing water canons toward the protesters who stood their ground but the police with their truncheon and batons came over and attack the farmers.A common ensued and gunshots wereheard.Arnado said his group wanted to resist but decided to move toward the Methodist Church compound to avoid further injury to farmers and save lives.Earlier, Mendoza refused to meet the protesters in the rally
site, specifically in front of the Methodist Church. The farmers had been insisting the
government should give them 15,000 bags of rice or they will continue the
barricade.
Mendoza explained to reportersthat she cannot give the protesting farmers
their demand as part of the calamity funds have been allocated to drought
affected farmers while the rest are prepared for another unexpected calamity
this year.
The wounded farmers are being treated at various hospital in
the city while others sought refuge inside the Methodist Church Compound and it was surrounded by police.

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