Protest organizer not issue—Pimentel
Whether or not the farmers’ protest in Kidapawan, North Cotabato, was organized by leftists or communists is not the issue.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said that regardless of who mobilized the people, there was no reason for the police to shoot at them.
In a radio interview, Pimentel said anyone who believes in a cause can join mass actions, given the people’s right to freedom of association and assembly.
“Even if we say it was the communists who organized them, that’s not a reason to shoot at them,” he said.
Pimentel led a Senate inquiry on the dispersal of the farmers’ protest in Kidapawan that left three people dead and several others wounded.
The farmers were seeking relief and a subsidy from the government for their farms affected by El Niño, the dry spell that has killed their crops and left them with nothing to feed their families.
But there were those who questioned the presence of non-resident farmers and activists at the rally who were chanting slogans and carrying placards with messages not related to the issues faced by farmers.
Pimentel said Philippine National Police Director General Ricardo Marquez should stop playing with words, referring to the latter’s statement that he only ordered the police to clear the Kidapawan highway and not to disperse the protesters blocking it.
“What does that mean? If the people are in the middle of the highway and you want to clear the road, isn’t that a dispersal?” he said. “Let us not play with words.”
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