03 Apr 2016

Palace warns against misinformation after bloody Kidapawan City protest
The Palace extended its sympathies to the families of the victims of a violent clash in Kidapawan City and countered those sowing misinformation about the incident.

“Tayo po ay nakikidalamhati doon sa mga kaanak ng mga nasaktan sa panig man ng mga nagkikilos protesta at maging sa ating mga kapulisan,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a radio interview on Sunday.

Coloma told dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan that relevant agencies such as the Philippine National Police and the Commission on Human Rights are already conducting inquiries.

Based on the report, Coloma said there were around 100 policemen who participated in the event and 99 of them sustained injuries, with some having serious wounds.

Coloma also said that based on the materials gathered on the ground, there may be some groups who wanted to seize the opportunity to sow propaganda for their own ends.

The public must also consider the location for the mass action is a major highway, the Cotabato-Davao Highway, with the protesters blocking it for days.

“Ang kaganapang ito ay isang major highway, ang Cotabato Davao highway …at halos apat na araw na itong hindi madaanan at mauunawaan naman natin na matindi ang epekto ng ganyang pagkasara ng isang major highway sa daloy ng mga tao, sasakyan at ng mga kalakal,” he said.

Coloma also fended off criticism against groups saying the government has not acted on the impending drought in Mindanao starting last year. He said that since August 2015, the administration launched comprehensive programs to address the effects of the El Niño phenomenon, which was predicted to hit the country.

The President organized a Cabinet task group to address El Niño with three major goals in mind. The task group aimed to ensure enough supply of food, sufficient supply of water for drinking and irrigation, and prepare barangays against calamities, he said.

“At sa lahat ng pagkakataon ay masinsing tinutukan ng pamahalaan ang lahat ng mga lalawigan na apektado nitong El Niño sa buong bansa ang sitwasyon,” Coloma pointed out.

“Kung wala tayong nabalitaang krisis o kalamidad na sumiklab sa iba’t ibang lugar, siguro ito ay dahil na rin sa ginawang maagap na pagtugon ng ating pamahalaan.”

Among the members of the Cabinet task group includes the Food Security Council, National Water Resources Board, and the National Economic and Development Authority, which serves as coordinator.

NEDA reported to the President on March 18 informing him that agencies already conducted cloud seeding, and distributed planting materials for farmers.

Concerned agencies also constructed small water impounding projects in the region to store water, which could eventually be used for irrigation.

To provide livelihood, the Department of Social Welfare and Development carried out cash-for-work program in North Cotabato, Kidapawan City as well as the entire Region 12, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

A farmer was reportedly killed Friday and at least 13 others were wounded after violence erupted in Kidapawan City as farmers asked for support from the government.

The protesters were demanding relief and subsidy for farm communities affected by the Mindanao drought. PND (as)

Palace says government ready to assist Filipino fishermen detained in Eritrea
Malacanang said the government is ready to assist Filipino fishermen who were reported to have detained by Eritrean authorities after they ventured in Eritrean waters from Saudi Arabia.

In a radio interview Saturday over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Department of Foreign Affairs is still verifying the incident and has not received official information from the ground.

“Patuloy ang isinasagawang beripikasyon ng ating pamahalaan sa nasabing ulat. Ayon sa DFA, habang naghahanda tayo para sa panayam na ito, wala pa silang natatanggap na opisyal na impormasyon mula sa ating embahada sa Riyadh hinggil sa nasabing insidente bagama’t naiulat na ito ng mga wire services,” Coloma said.

“Gayunpaman, nakahanda ang ating embahada na bigyan ng kaukulang tulong ang mga Pilipinong nangangailangan ng tulong dyan sa mga ganyang sitwasyon.”

Media reports said nine Filipino fishermen were arrested by the Eritrean coast guard for fishing in its territorial waters. The nine Filipinos from Saudi are now in the custody of Eritrean officials, according to ABS-CBN News Channel.

The country’s vice consul stationed in Jeddah, confirmed that the nine fishermen have crossed the boundary of the North African state.

The report also said that the Philippine Embassy in Cairo will coordinate with the Eritrean government for the immediate release of the Filipino fishermen in the report. PND (as)