April 5, 2016, 1:18p.m. – CAMPUS activists on Monday protested the violent dispersal of a farmers’ rally in Kidapawan, North Cotabato that left two people dead and scores injured.

Students took part in a candle-lighting ceremony to condemn the violence against the drought-stricken farmers who were demanding the immediate release of calamity aid.

“Pinapanawagan namin sa gobyerno na makinig sa mga hinaing ng mga magsasaka, [ang] rice subsidy, El Niño subsidy na dapat ay ibinigay,” said Vanessa Bolibol of Kabataan Partylist. “Legitimate protest ang ginawa ng mga magsasaka sa Kidapawan, ngunit ang naramdaman nila ay ang pandarahas mula sa gobyerno,” she added.

In a statement, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, also condemned the dispersal.

Archbishop Villegas said “death is always tragic, even more when violent death visits God’s poor.”

“May their families not give in to the cycle of vengeance but instead seek ways to restore peace,” the prelate said in the statement.

An estimated 5,000 El Niño-affected farmers demanded the release of 15,000 sacks of rice to their drought-stricken communities in addition to food assistance, calamity funds and agricultural support.

On the third day of the protests last April 1, the farmers were violently dispersed. Two protesters were dead and a total of 116 people were injured. Eighty-nine were reported missing. The Philippine National Police also reported that two policemen were in critical condition and at least 40 uniformed personnel were hurt.

Youth activist groups expressed support for the farmers and called on fellow Thomasians to take action.

In a joint statement on April 2, Anakbayan-UST, STAND-UST and League of Filipino Students-UST said: “The victims were ordinary civilians, but the state believed they weren’t.”

“We enjoin all Thomasians to call for the immediate pullout of police troops in Kidapawan and the immediate release of the protestors who were illegally arrested,” the statement read.

Interior Secretary Mel Sarmiento has ordered the creation of two fact-finding teams to investigate the bloody encounter between farmers and police. Clarence I. Hormachuelos


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.