Davaoeños lead donation drive for protesting Kidapawan farmers
DAVAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – For the nth time Davaoeños again showed their spirit of solidarity with the protesting farmers in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato by donating rice from their own homes.
On Saturday, April 2, while North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza was holding a press conference in Kidapawan City and training her guns on helpless protesters and militant leaders, residents of Davao were already hauling sacks of rice for the farmers who were violently dispersed the day before.
At least two people were reported killed and hundreds were wounded on Friday, April 1. Police said about 3,000 protesters blocked the Davao-Cotabato Highway starting Wednesday, March 30, to demand government assistance in the wake of the effects of drought in the area.
Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista said the farmers demanded that Taliño-Mendoza release 15,000 sacks of rice to them, but she reportedly refused to talk to them.
The Philippine National Police said the permit to rally lapsed Friday morning. The highway protest that began 6 am on March 30 brought together farmers, members of indigenous groups, and other cause-oriented groups.
In Davao, the spirit of volunteerism started with a social media post at about 2 am on Friday, April 1, when a certain Fritz Freire posted on his Facebook page that he would donate 5 kilos of rice and deliver them to City Hall. He tagged his friends and it spread like wildfire.
As of 4 pm, Saturday, the contributions totaled 65 sacks of rice which were transported to Kidapawan City past 5 pm, Saturday, April 2.
Presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Friday told reporters in Bukidnon that the city government of Davao would extend help and provide food for the farmers on humanitarian grounds as it cannot intervene in issues outside its territory.
Duterte said that for Davao City to officially help the farmers, the city council needs to pass a resolution allowing the office of the mayor to give food assistance.
Many business operators in Davao City have pledged to donate rice for the farmers.
Duterte campaign spokesperson Peter Tiu Laviña, in a post on his personal Facebook page, said that they are also looking for rice dealers in Kidapawan City or in neighboring Makilala, where donors can directly order rice for donation to the farmers.
Laviña said that donors also came from Tagum City, Samal City, from San Carlos City in Pangasinan, Cebu City, and even from overseas Filipinos.
During the press conference, Taliño-Mendoza criticized a politician for promising to give rice to the farmers and took it as an insult. She said her province is able to provide for the needs of its farmers.
Without naming names but addressing politicians, she said, "Nang-iinsulto ba kayo o namumulitika kayo?...Sa lahat ng kandidato sinuman magpunta dito. Huwag niyong gawing staging ground ang North Cotabato sa propaganda..."
(Are you insulting us or playing politics?...To all candidates, whoever comes here. Don't use North Cotabato as staging ground for propaganda...)
The people of Davao are used to supporting other local government experiencing calamities. They, too, helped residents of Tacloban, Leyte after Super Typhoon Yolanda struck and killed thousands in November 2013. – Editha Z. Caduaya/Rappler.com