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CBCP leader: Aquino’s silence on Kidapawan incident shows apathy

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 04:41 PM April 07, 2016

An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has slammed the silence of President Benigno Aquino III over the bloody police dispersal of farmers in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato, on April 1.

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said the silence of Aquino showed his apathy toward the drought-stricken farmers.

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“There were no messages of sympathy, condolences or regrets or (assurance of) a decision to get into the bottom of this incident. Our government should protect our people, not isolate them,” Arguelles, who heads the CBCP permanent committee on public affairs, was quoted as saying in a Radyo Veritas report.

READ: 1 killed, 13 hurt after police open fire in North Cotabato farmer protest

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Arguelles also expressed doubts over the Senate hearing on the clash, saying politicians would only use it for political gain.

“If they’re truly sincere and concerned they (senators) should just help the investigators find the truth and to place justice. What they’re doing at the Senate is just grandstanding (for the) elections; it’s free publicity for them at the expense of the poor,” the archbishop said.

A former president of the CBCP had also decried the violence and compared it to the Mendiola massacre in 1987 where 13 farmers were killed when security forces opened fire at thousands of farmers and land reform advocates who were staging a protest on Mendiola Bridge.

READ: Ex-CBCP head likens Kidapawan violence to Mendiola massacre

Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz described the incident as shameful, saying the drought-hit farmers were just demanding food assistance from the government due to the effects of El Niño.

The CBCP had expressed sadness over the incident. “We pray for our farmers in Kidapawan. May those who died find peace and happiness in heaven,” said CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas.

Malacañang earlier said Aquino would refrain from issuing statements until he had studied the bloody dispersal.

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“I do believe the President will refrain from making any statements until he has fully studied the matter and is given and is satisfied with all the answers that he has received as a result of demanding an impartial and thorough investigation,” Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III said in an interview over state-run dzRB radio. RC

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, dispersal, Kidapawan, Oscar Cruz, protest, Ramon Arguelles, Socrates Villegas, Violence
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