April 9, 2016
MANILA, Philippines – Exactly a week after the bloody dispersal of thousands of hungry farmers in North Cotabato, President Aquino has finally broke his silence.
During an administration campaign activity in Makati City Friday, Aquino said he only learned about the bloody dispersal late afternoon of April 1.
The President went to Cavite that day for the turnover of a newly-built school building and a campaign rally for the ruling Liberal Party.
“Pauwi kami pabalik ng Maynila, nabanggit ni DILG Secretary Mel Sarmiento na kinabukasan tutungo siya sa Kidapawan at tinanong ko siya. Anong gagawin mo sa Kidapawan?,” the President told the media.
“Sa totoo lang po, doon ko lang narinig sa unang pagkakataon na meron pa lang nangharang ng highway sa Kidapawan at nagkaroon ng isang violent dispersal,” he added.
Aquino said he wanted to immediately resolve the situation in Kidapawan, but was not feeling well after his trip to Cavite and eventually had a fever.
The President said his doctor advised him to take some rest.
“Alam ninyo, talagang 24/7, 365 days ang trabaho ko, paminsan-minsan po nagrereklamo na rin ‘yung katawan ko,” Aquino said.
“Nung Biyernes ng gabi, bigla po tayong nagkaroon ng trangkaso. Giniginaw… pinilit nating matulog. Nagka-konti pang problema kinabukasan pati ‘yung ating sikmura at talaga naman pong pinayuhan ako ng aking doktor na kailangan magpahinga raw maski konti,” he added.
Despite feeling ill, the President said he still sought for a meeting with concerned officials that weekend.
Aquino said he called for a separate meeting with government officials, which include the power outage at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminal last April 2.
He said the two meetings were initially set on Sunday, but have been moved to Monday as the involved officials were not yet ready to give their reports.
The President added that the meetings were rescheduled because “it’s Sunday,” which is a non-working day.
“Linggo na lang ang pahinga ng ating mga kasama pero talagang atat na atat na akong umpisahan, i-resolba lahat ng mga pangyayaring ito,” Aquino said.
He further noted that when Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. told him that the officials were not ready to give him a briefing, Aquino admitted that he felt unease, but knew that the meetings would be worthless without the data.
“Hindi ako mapapakali hanggang hindi natin nabibigyan ng katugunan o solusyon ang lahat ng problemang nangyayari,” the President said.
“Pero kung hindi sila handa, walang mangyayari sa pagpupulong. Natatagalan pa sa pagkuha ng datos. Kaya Lunes na kami nag-usap,” he added.
The President ended the interview without giving any details about his meetings with the officials on the Kidapawan and the NAIA blackout incidents.
The street demonstration of more than 4,000 farmers in North Cotabato seeking government aid to survive the El Niño drought started on March 30.
They demanded for government assistance after drought hit their farms.
But instead of delivering aid, police stormed the protesters’ barricade in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato last April 1 and opened fire, killing two people and wounding more than 40 others.