April 3, 2014
MANILA, Philippines – Instead of being grateful, North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza was even angered by people, who were extending help to protesting farmers in Kidapawan City.
Mendoza said it seemed these people connected to politicians were only riding on the issue for personal and political gain.
She noted that donating rice to the farmers is a big insult to her governance.
On Saturday, actor Robin Padilla, who have been openly campaigning for presidential aspirant Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, arrived in Kidapawan to talk with the farmers and donated some 200 sacks of rice.
Members of the Duterte Presidential Campaign Team also arrived in the city and distributed 30 sacks of rice collected for the farmers, who were violently dispersed by police last Friday.
“Bigla lang kayo darating at magbibigay ng bigas? Nang-iinsulto ba kayo o namumulitika kayo? Gusto ninyo ba talagang tumulong?” Mendoza told the media Saturday in reference to those who expressed support to farmers.
“Sa lahat ng kandidato, sino man ang magpunta dito, huwag ninyo gawing staging ground ang North Cotabato para sa propaganda para makahingi kayo ng tulong sa international community at magkapera kayo,” she added.
Over 4,000 hungry farmers blocked portions of the Cotabato-Davao Highway last week to demand government assistance, including the 15,000 sacks of rice, in the wake of the effects of drought in the area.
At least three protesters were reported killed and over 100 were wounded after the violent dispersal.
In her defense, the governor stressed that she was aware of the plight that poor farmers were in, thus, she sought to come to terms with them.
Prior to the dispersal, Mendoza said she had scheduled a dialogue with the protesters last Wednesday, but none attended.
The following day, the governor said she met leaders of the protesters at the Diocese of Kidapawan, where she explained the limitations to their demands.
She said she was expecting a response on Friday morning, but no one came.
Mendoza said the initial plan of the provincial government was to first distribute rice at the barangay level, then go up to the municipal and city levels.
She said they are now investigating who gave the protesters wrong information that the provincial government would give sacks of rice to each farmer at the picket line set up along the Cotabato-Davao Highway.
Here’s a short clip of Mendoza’s statement during a press briefing with the media last Saturday, circulating on YouTube.