MATI CITY, Davao Oriental—Villagers protesting the alleged hoarding of rice for
Typhoon “Pablo” survivors by the province’s governor barricaded a street here for at least three hours on Tuesday, demanding the release of the rice.
The protesters, led by Barug Katawhan, accused Gov. Corazon Malanyaon of hoarding the rice to distribute these during campaign rallies for her and her allies.
The protesters were to hold a rally in front of the hilltop provincial capitol but were blocked by policemen.
Barug Katawhan is the same group that led protesters who raided sacks of rice and boxes of relief goods at the regional office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Davao City in February.
“It is insulting that Malanyaon is prioritizing the elections while many people are suffering from hunger as a result of the devastation brought by Typhoon Pablo,” said Carlo Trangia, spokesperson of Barug Katawhan.
“Yes, she is unopposed but she is worried that her chosen candidates, most especially for mayors, would not win,” Trangia said.
Trangia’s group also demanded the scrapping of Integrated Forest Management Agreements, or logging licenses, that Barug Katawhan said worsened the disaster brought by Pablo.
Malanyaon, in an earlier interview, said the protesters should blame the Department of Environment and Natural Resources instead.
Trangia, however, said the local government has a duty to protect the environment of its area of jurisdiction.
“Malanyaon is the mother of this province. She must do everything to protect her people,” he said.
Malanyaon said she would never compromise the rights and interests of the residents of Davao Oriental.
“I will resign if they will be able to prove their accusations,” she said.
She also challenged her accusers to see for themselves the rice being kept at the gym at the back of the provincial capitol. Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao