President Aquino: Police not at fault in Kidapawan clash
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday, April 21, defended the police force in the bloody clash with the farmers of Kidapawan City early this month.
“Siyempre nakikiramay muna ako doon sa namatay. Awang-awa ako sa lahat ng nasaktan, pero siguro hindi aalisin sa akin na naawa doon sa kapulisan natin na may obligasyon na ipatupad 'yung peace and order campaign,” he told reporters in Batangas.
(Of course, I mourned those who lost their lives. I am sympathetic with all the injured people, but you can’t take it away from me to feel pity for our police force, which has the obligation to implement our peace and order campaign.)
On April 1, some 3,000 farmers, who were demonstrating along the Davao-Cotabato Highway, were violently dispersed by government forces for blocking the road. The farmers were clamoring for government’s help with the drought situation affecting their livelihood.
Two protesters were killed and 116 were hurt, including 23 protesters and 93 policemen. Two cops were “under critical condition,” according to authorities.
“Sila ang pinaulanan ng bato at ang claim nga ng kapulisan ngayon na tila pinaputukan rin daw sila,” the President said, describing the video of the clash.
(Stones were unceasingly thrown at them and the police claimed guns were fired at them.)
Referring to the two policemen in critical condition, Aquino emphasized: “Talagang pinagpupukulan ng pagkalaking bato, hinampas. Tapos ang tanong: government ang may kasalanan?” (READ: Gov't should be blamed for hunger, violence in Kidapawan – senators)
(Really big stones were thrown at them, then they were whacked. So the question is: the government is at fault?)
The police filed charges against the farmers who were eventually detained. Two weeks after, 76 were released and 2 others are set to post bail. Two more farmers, who were earlier released, are missing and not in contact with the group.
Group provoked the clash
Asked if he will hold government officials accountable, Aquino said that he has to wait for the results of the Senate investigation but maintained that the police were not at fault.
Aquino speculated that there is a group that enticed the farmers to join the big protest and they should be the ones charged. He said that Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño Mendoza's testimony revealed that there were a lot of non-locals in the crowd.
“Parang pinagsabong ang mga tao at balewala 'yung buhay nung lahat ng dinala nila doon, iyon ang kailangan nating tugisin rin,” he said.
(It seems that they intended to spark the fight among the people there and they did not think about the lives they compromised. They are the ones we need to run after.)
“They only did this to exploit an issue,” he said in Filipino. – Patty Pasion/Rappler.com