PNP OPENS FIRE AT KIDAPAWAN FARMERS, LUMADS
(KIDAPAWAN) One confirmed dead, 43 injured in deadly Kidapawan Massacre Friday.
Negotiations broke down when PNP opened fire at 6000 farmers forming a human barricade at the Kidapawan National Highway in North Cotabato.
The farmers and lumads refused to break the barricade. They were demanding immediate relief from the devastating drought that has gripped the province since November.
The firing began soon after Kidapawan Mayor Joseph Evangelista arrived at the protest site, according to Jerome Succor Aba, spokesman of Moro human rights group Suara Bangsamoro.
"We told them that all we wanted was relief from the drought, especially the rice, and we would leave but the chief of police insisted that they would disperse us by force if we did not leave," said Pedro Arnado, chairman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Cotabato chapter.
"Soon after, firetrucks bombarded us with water cannon and riot police began moving in and striking protesters with their batons. When the protesters resisted, they started shooting at us," he said. "At first, despite the casualties, the farmers stood their ground and wanted to fight back but we ordered a withdrawal to avoid more harm from happening."
According to the farmers, 7 months of El Nino drought has left their with nothing to eat, prompting them to request Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza to release the local government's calamity fund and provide farmers with sacks of rice.
In response, Mendoza said she'll entertain the farmers' request only upon receipt of a formal request.
Both Gov. Mendoza and Mayor Evangelista are allies of the Liberal Party.