Kidapawan highway blockade cleared – mayor
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Davao-Cotabato Highway, which was blocked for 3 days by drought-affected farmers who were demanding aid from the provincial government, has been cleared, Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista said Sunday, April 3.
Around 1,000 farmers, however, are still staying at the compound of the United Methodist Church. The mayor said some want to go home but are being prevented by the protesters' marshals.
Farmers who were detained, meanwhile, have been formally charged with direct assault at the Kidapawan City Prosecutors' Office, according to Kilab Multimedia.
Local radio station One Radio, quoting city prosecutors, said that the detained farmers need P12,000 bond.
Kilab, in a series of Facebook posts, also said that the farmers have been prevented by police from getting aid being distributed by concerned citizens and organizations.
Two people were killed and 116 wounded during the violent dispersal of the farmers' protest last Friday, April 1. The protesters were blocking the Davao-Cotabato Highway to seek government assistance, as their livelihoods have been severely affected by drought in the past several months.
The farmers demanded that North Cotabato Governor Emmylou 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. – with reports from Editha Z. Caduaya / Rappler.com