Kapunan: Address drought to avoid another Kidapawan incident
MANILA, Philippines – Senatorial candidate Lorna Kapunan on Friday, April 8, warned that the farmers' protest that turned into a bloody dispersal in Kidapawan, North Cotabato, may happen again if the government fails to address drought caused by climate change.
"The Kidapawan incident will happen again because this government has not addressed the issue of climate change and climate justice," Kapunan said during the Rappler senatorial debate at AMA University in Quezon City.
The April 1 incident left at least two people dead and over a hundred others wounded, after authorities dispersed protesting farmers seeking the government's assistance to help them cope with the effects of El Niño.
The protesters had demanded the release of calamity funds and 15,000 sacks of rice.
Kapunan, a human rights lawyer, slammed the government for failing to address the farmers' urgent needs.
She said that the farmers who feed the rest of the Filipino public were the ones going hungry, but the administration was more focused on investigating the incident, Kapunan said.
"Hanggang ngayon, ang administrasyon 'di pa rin nagbibigay ng pagkain doon. Ang sagot ng administrayon, tapusin muna natin ang investigation. (Until now, the administration has not yet given them food. The administration's answer is, let's finish the investigation.) The administration wants to know who were the people responsible in the massacre. That's not the answer to hunger," she said.
On Thursday, the Senate held a public hearing in Davao City on the bloody incident.
Protesters narrated how they were turned away by the police. But Police Superintendent Alexander Tagum, ground commander during the dispersal, claimed that it was his men who were victims of the protesters.
During his narration, he presented video footage showing the protesters throwing rocks at the police, who held up their shields.
The police also defended their use of guns, citing intelligence reports that there was an "active shooter" present in the crowd. – Rappler.com
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