Kidapawan dispersal showed 'breakdown' of protocols – De Lima
MANILA, Philippines – The bloody dispersal of protesting farmers in Kidapawan, Cotabato, showed a "breakdown" of protocols in addressing mass actions, former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said during the Rappler senatorial debate on Friday, April 15.
De Lima said that the first responders to disperse the protesting farmers were armed personnel, which she said was "violative of existing protocols."
The incident last April 1 left at least two people dead and over a hundred others wounded, after protesting farmers were turned away by authorities in what became a violent dispersal.
The farmers had demanded the release of calamity funds and 15,000 sacks of rice to help them cope with the effects of El Niño.
During a Senate public hearing in Davao City on April 7, protesters narrated how they were turned away by police, while law enforcement authorities claimed that they were victims of the rock-throwing protesters.
They also defended their use of guns, citing intelligence reports that there was an "active shooter" present in the crowd.
But De Lima said that the protesters had legitimate grievances. "They may have been provoked, but their demands were legitimate," she said.
"What happened was a breakdown of the application of existing protocols in addressing mass actions," De Lima said.
Senior Superintendent Alexander Tagum, Cotabato provincial police chief, has since been relieved pending the results of an investigation into the incident. – Rappler.com
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