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Robredo: Farmers first, finger-pointing later

Bea Cupin

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Robredo: Farmers first, finger-pointing later
'Huwag muna nating intindihin ang mga akusasyon. Mas mahalaga rito, tugunan ang kanilang mga hinaing,’ says the LP vice presidential bet as allies are on the defensive over the bloody April 1 dispersal

MANILA, Philippines – The Liberal Party (LP)’s vice presidential bet on Wednesday, April 6, called on both government and non-governmental groups to stop the finger-pointing over a bloody dispersal of protesting farmers in Kidapawan City.

Walang mangyayari sa pagtuturuan dahil wala itong maitutulong para mapabuti ang kalagayan ng ating mga magsasaka (Nothing good will happen from this finger-pointing because it will not help the plight of our farmers),” Robredo said in a statement released to media.

Huwag muna nating intindihin ang mga akusasyon. Mas mahalaga rito, tugunan ang kanilang mga hinaing upang maipakitang may ginagawa ang pamahalaan para sa kanila (Let’s put all accusations aside. The more important thing here is addressing their needs to show that government is doing something for them),” she added.

Robredo’s statement comes as government officials and the police are on the defensive over a bloody April 1 clash that claimed the lives of at least 2 people and injured over a hundred. (READ: Kidapawan protester: I was shot by sniper on firetruck)

Thousands of farmers affected by drought were picketing along the national highway, asking for rice and aid. North Cotabato and nearby provinces are among those worst-hit by El Niño.

Bakit kailangang mangyari? Bakit kailangang may patayan? Bakit kailangang may barilan? Dapat sana hindi. Ang pinakabuod ng problema, marami na tayong kababayan sa Mindanao na naghihirap because of the drought. Hinihingi natin sa ating pamahalaan na agad-agad hanapan ng solusyon kasi hanggang hindi naparurusahan iyong mga salarin, hindi rin matatapos iyong pighati ng mga magsasaka,” added Robredo.

(Why did this have to happen? Why did people have to die? Why did bullets have to fly? That should not have been the case. The root of the problem is that we have a lot of fellow Filipinos in Mindanao that are suffering because of the drought. We ask our government to find an immediate solution because until those at fault are not punished, the plight of our farmers will not end.)

Prior to joining politics, Robredo served the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) and later, a joined a non-governmental organization of lawyers that catered to the poor.

Even Robredo’s standard-bearer, Manuel Roxas II, has echoed the sentiments of incumbent government officials. He cited the need to investigate the incident following reports that the rally was not “organic” or was not the initiative of North Cotabato residents but that of politicians who want to magnify the issue to boost their ratings. 

He did not specify who these politicians were.

Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento had earlier ordered two panels to probe the police and the concerned local government unit. But Sarmiento has also insisted that the police exercised “maximum tolerance” and that the LGU was not remiss in giving aid to hungry farmers.

The PNP is set to conduct its own probe into the clash, on top of probes by other bodies such as the Commission on Human Rights. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.