Groups hit Aquino’s ‘deafening silence’ on bloody Kidapawan clash
Militant groups on Sunday scored President Benigno Aquino III for supposedly keeping mum about the bloody face-off between farmers and policemen in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato, last Friday that left at least two farmers dead and several others wounded.
Farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said Aquino’s silence on the violent dispersal of the farmers was reflective of his “habitual practice” as a “landlord president” of dismissing farmers’ demands.
“Aquino’s continuing silence and the lines mouthed by his numerous mouthpieces betray the President’s official position both on the issue of drought and the Kidapawan massacre.”
“Aquino’s deafening silence shows that he is used to violent dispersals and massacres as a habitual practice of the landlord president in dismissing farmers’ just, legitimate, and moral demands,” KMP chair Rafael Mariano said in a statement.
Mariano also hit Palace spokesperson Manolo Quezon III for saying that militant groups mobilized the farmers to clash with the police.
“Aquino and his bunch of spokespersons are now justifying and covering up the Kidapawan massacre through their blame-the-victim template and by spreading blatant lies that the protest is illegal and the protesters are infiltrated by outsiders and communists,” he said.
Quezon, in a press briefing on Saturday, blamed the militant left for supposedly infiltrating the farmers’ protest.
“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.
For its part, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said Aquino was “too busy” campaigning for his bets to the point that he was mum on the violent dispersal in Kidapawan City.
“The whole nation is aghast at what happened to the protesting farmers. Condemnation of the violence has come across party lines. In this time of crisis, where is the president? Nasaan ang pangulo? Is he still too busy campaigning to even give a hoot about the plight of the farmers? He has not spoken since the shooting took place,” Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr. said in a separate statement.
Reyes also laid out five urgent things that Aquino should do at the aftermath of the bloody clash:
- The siege of the Kidapawan Methodist church where the farmers are gathered should end. The farmers should be allowed to leave without fear of being arrested.
- The 78 detained protesters should be released. It is not even clear what charges are being filed against them while they are being held.
- The wounded and injured should be given medical attention.
- The demand for rice support and release of calamity funds should be met. There is no reason to prolong the process given the gravity of the situation. There is sufficient rice supply on the part of government. It should be released to the farmers as soon as possible.
- Police officials involved in the dispersal and shooting of farmers should be relieved pending an impartial investigation.
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