Palace hits militant groups’ role in Kidapawan clash
Malacañang on Saturday slammed militant groups that allegedly mobilized the protesters in Kidapawan City who clashed with policemen in a bloody dispersal.
“It’s very clear that the background to this whole, sad, and tragic incident is that the farmers mobilize among those who participated in mobilization are many cause-oriented groups, you know from the militant-left,” Communications undersecretary Manolo Quezon said in a press briefing.
“They were given a permit to rally on a Wednesday and that permit, that initial agreement–my understanding from the statements of the (Cotabato) governor–expired and yet they were allowed to continue in this main road,” he added.
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.
But citing reports from local media in Mindanao, Quezon said it was the protesters who first threw rocks that they got from a nearby construction site, which prompted the authorities to respond.
“And this is what has to be investigated, alam mo naman, especially under a tragic situation where everyone is really heartbroken over what has happened. Kakalat ang bintang, misinformation, agenda setting at bigla na lang maraming makiki-ride doon sa issue. Lahat ng bagay na‘yun hindi nakakatulong sa mga nasaktan at namatay,” he said, noting that the Palace is expecting an “impartial” probe of the incident.
Quezon said the slogan written on the protesters’ shields and placards were not even related to the plight of drought-stricken farmers asking for assistance.
“’Yung mga shied na dala nila ang mga nakasulat doon ‘Batukan ang Oplan Bayanihan.’ Itong unang hanay nila. And you have to wonder and this is just a question because nandoon ‘yung litrato e. Anong koneksyon ng Oplan Bayanihan sa hinaing ng mga magsasaka?” he said.
Citing a statement from Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza, Quezon said the militant groups behind the protest include Anakpawis, Bayan Muna, Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students, SPMC, RCPR or Religious Church Promotion of Churches, Apo Sandawa Lumadnong Panaghiusa, and Gabriella Women’s Party.
Quezon also took a swipe at presidential aspirant Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for riding on the issue and echoing the statements of leftist groups, which he described as “incendiary.”
“The statements of this presidential candidate has been completely incendiary, talagang below the belt, very personal, very targeted to the sentiments of — not even of the farmers but those militant groups that involved themselves in the farmers’ plight. And of course, we’re referring to Mayor Duterte and we have to ask ourselves, was he acting in an irresponsible manner? Or is it a manner that is calculated simply to engage the support of those who are also answerable for the behavior of their cadres in the protest,” he said.
“And remember there has been, previous mention, and again this is not from us, this is from the media, that there were going to be Cabinet positions in this candidate’s future government reserved for individuals who are now currently in exile or belonging to the party and movement that those people belong to,” Quezon added.
Duterte’s camp on Friday slammed the administration over the violent dispersal, saying that “blood is written all over the hands” of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan.
Tensions 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. JE
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