Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) senatorial bet Win Gatchalian urged the leadership of the Philippine National Police to expedite the investigation of all PNP members involved in the violent dispersal of farmers who have been barricading the Cotabato-Davao highway in Kidapawan City to dramatize their sad plight due to famine and hunger.
Three farmers were killed while 116 were reported injured after policemen opened fire on members of various peasant groups who are calling for government assistance in terms of rice and food items since their farms have been badly hit by drought brought about by the El Nino.
Media reports identified the fatalities as Rotello Daelto from Brgy.Binoongan, Arakan municipality and a member of the Arakan Peasant Progressive Organization (APPO); Victor Lumandang from Brgy. Alobayon, Magpet and a member of Apo Sandawa Lumadnong Paghiusa (ASLPC) and Enrico Pabrica, 30 years old from Kidapawan City.
“We vehemently condemn the violent dispersal instigated by our very own government. The farmers have only one simple demand – rice for their families. This is more than a valid request from our government. This is a humanitarian plea from our own people,” said Gatchalian.
Gatchalian specifically scored President Aquino who, instead of attending to the drought problem which have already affected thousands of farmers in Mindanao, is making himself busy campaigning for Liberal Party candidates.
“The PNP leadership should expedite the probe of the bloody dispersal in Kidapawan City and immediately relieved the officers and personnel directly involved in the killing of three farmers and injuring 116 others,” said Gatchalian.
Meanwhile, Gatchalian called on Malacanang to order the Department of Agriculture and other agencies under it to mobilise all its personnel and resources to help all farmers who are now experiencing hunger and thirst due to the El Nino that has ravaged their farm lands.
“There is a saying that a hungry stomach knows no law. We cannot blame the drought-affected farmers to be angry with their government whom they perceive as inutile insofar as helping them in their time of misery,” Gatchalian said.