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How the protest of hungry farmers turned into a deadly dispersal in Kidapawan


Around 6,000 farmers held a rally in Kidapawan City to ask for rice rations and aid as El Niño continued to kill their crops. They held their protest on a national highway, blocking traffic.

On the fourth day of the protest, police asked the farmers to give way or they would be dispersed. The dispersal turned into a bloody confrontation where three individuals, including a civilian, were killed.

A report by Emil Sumangil on GMA-7’s “24 Oras” on Monday discussed how the farmers’ rally turned into a bloody dispersal.

 

 

March 29 – Around 500 farmers began a protest in front of the National Food Authority (NFA) office in Kidapawan City. They said that because of El Niño, their crops have died. They have been suffering from hunger because they no longer have income.

“Sa humigit kumulang anim na buwan, wala ng pagkain ang mga magsasaka,” farmer Pedro Arnado said.

Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza agreed to talk to the farmers. Their names were then sent to the local government unit so they would be given rice rations and other benefits from the province’s calamity fund.

March 30 – From 500 farmers, the number ballooned to 6,000 protesters. They occupied the Kidapawan Highway, blocking traffic in the area. Police were then deployed in the area to negotiate with the protesters.

“Bakit sa kaniyang open na makipag-negotiate, nakahanda na ang mga pulis para sirain ang barikada ng mga tao? Bigas lang hinihingi ng mga tao... bakit batuta ng mga sundalo?” Gabriela Mindanao chair Bai Alil Indayla said.

April 1 – In a video taken by Kilab Multimedia, the talks between the police and the rallyists continued. Amid the negotiations, violence broke out, with protesters throwing stones while the police started using the water cannons. The video also showed police in full battle gear shooting at the protesters. Gunshots can also be heard in other areas.

A drone video of the dispersal was also taken by the local government of Kidapawan. It showed how the police dispersed the rallyists via water cannon. It also showed how members of the police were hurt during the incident. One of them was beaten up by a protester. He was identified as SPO2 Ric Untalan who is still unconscious and in critical condition.

According to the police, two protesters died in the incident. They were Rogelio Daelto and Victor Lumugdang. Militants said three of their members died. Around 150 from both sides were hurt during the incident.

April 4 – As of Monday, tension has subsided in Kidapawan City. But hundreds of farmers still decided to stay. Meanwhile, different government agencies have started their fact-finding probe on the incident.

—Trisha Macas/JST/KG, GMA News