02 Apr 2016

Palace wants impartial investigation following violent North Cotabato dispersal
The Palace called for calm following a violent dispersal of protesting farmers in North Cotabato, which resulted in casualties and injuries.

“This is a very, very heartbreaking tragedy. Our farmers deserved better than to have to suffer to receive assistance and aid,” Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, said in a radio interview on Saturday.

“All the more so because the assistance and aid is there, they have to go through the process … and this is really.., this compounds the tragedy,” he told dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan.

He said a fair, thorough, and impartial investigation must be carried out immediately to hold those accountable for the violence.

“There is no reason why people must die in order to be asking for assistance from their own government,” he said. At the same time, Quezon said, “there is no reason why a tragedy must be compounded by hotheaded statements or rushing to judgment.”

“It will not help anyone. There’s a tremendous number of wounded people on both sides. Lives have been lost and we owe it to ourselves as a society and to the farmers themselves and people in the affected areas to find out what exactly happened and why it did lead to this,” according to Quezon.

Quezon wonders why the protesters rejected government aid to remedy their hunger by going through a certain process.

The protesters were offered to go to their barangays and register for the cash for work program, and receive family packs from the DSWD but they refused. Quezon said it must be investigated.

The incident could result to the spread of misinformation and agenda setting, he said, warning it’s not helpful to the affected families.

The police leadership ordered an investigation into reports that two farmers were killed while dozens were wounded after being fired upon by police in Kidapawan City.Reports said still unidentified policemen fired at some 6,000 protesters at 10 a.m. yesterday.
The protesters were demanding relief and subsidy for farm communities affected by the dry spell in North Cotabato.

North Cotabato officials said the violence started after some of the protesters attacked policemen escorting a group of social workers out to rescue minors in the barricade set up by the demonstrators along the highway. PND (as)

Palace says there’s available government assistance in drought-stricken Mindanao areas
The government has readied assistance to communities affected by drought in Mindanao even prior to the eruption of violence in Kidapawan City on Friday, a Palace official said on Saturday.

It was reported that two farmers died and several others were injured on Friday when police dispersal turned violent in Kidapawan City.

But citing DSWD’s April 1 report, Undersecretary Manuel Quezon of the PCDSPO said there’ve been 125,228 families or 626,140 persons affected by El Niño in Region 12.

This includes the provinces of North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, including Autonomous Region In Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Maguindanao.

He told dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan that the DSWD released P133,426,000 including funds to maintain and complete the required or standard stockpiled 30,000-families food pack and initial assistance for the cash-for-work program.

For North Cotabato, DSWD has been coordinating with provincial social, welfare and development office of North Cotabato and sent a team to the area since Wednesday to assess, validate and identify the needed assistance of families who joined the rally.

As of April 1, the DSWD has already delivered 3,300 family food packs to its satellite office in Kidapawan City for distribution to affected families and another 2,700 family food packs to be delivered today, Saturday, according to Quezon.

“They even conducted Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) sessions to women rallyists at the convention hall of the Department of Education in Kidapawan City,” he said.

The DSWD also conducted assessment and evaluation of the identities of those who died and injured during the clash so that appropriate interventions could be done by the government.

Quezon pointed out that the government assistance has arrived in the region but people must follow certain processes to avail the government support.

“They just want to make sure that they get the assistance they deserve in a proper way, …in a way that doesn’t add to their problems …and yet these were rejected by some,” he said.

Asked by reporters why the government has to impose food-for-work program despite the emergency situation, Quezon said its been a government policy and the administration wants to treat people as dignified individuals.

It’s the difference between patronage politics and genuine public service, the Palace official said. He said people remain dignified and can contribute to the community even under an emergency. PND (as)