Actor Robin Padilla and concerned citizens from Davao City each donated at least 200 sacks of rice to beleaguered and hungry farmers who were temporarily sheltered last Saturday in a Methodist Church in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato, a day after a violent dispersal left three of them dead and scores injured.
“The call for rice donation was made by a group of media men in Davao City who knew fully well that Davaoenyos will respond with compassion,” said Peter Lavina, spokesperson of presidential bet Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Padilla, in his Instagram account could not hide his disgust over how the government handled the bloody dispersal of farmers. “Ang mga magsasaka ng inang bayan pinagbabaril sa kanilang mapayapang paghingi ng tulong sa kanilang gobyerno.”
Lavina said the demands of the farmers were valid and reflective of the current situation that they are in now – victims of the El Niño phenomenon.
Duterte blamed corruption for the incident, saying the present government setup “has not helped anybody,” especially the drought-stricken Cotabato farmers who were only asking for government to release rice to them.
He said Davao City is willing to extend humanitarian help in the form of food. “I have not been to Kidapawan. I was tempted to go there but I did not want to mess with the affairs of the local government,” he said.
“I asked the City Council to appropriate an amount (for the farmers), and we have been doing it ever since. We did it in Tacloban (during super typhoon Yolanda) and in Ormoc many years ago.”
Meanwhile, Malacañang, criticized over the dispersal, said yesterday that the government never abandoned farmers especially in the wake of the El Niño phenomenon.
Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. defended that since August 2015, President Aquino has already ordered a comprehensive action plan address the adverse effects of the dry spell, particularly ensure adequate food and water supply in the country.
“Masyadong simplistiko yung mga pahayag na lumabas na para bang kung ano yung hinihingi ng ating mga kababayan hindi ito ipinagkaloob. Kasinungalingan po iyan dahil komprehensibo, malawak ang programa na ipinatupad at patuloy pang ipinapatupad ng ating pamahalaan,” Coloma said over government radio.
“Nanlilinlang po yung mga nagsasabing hindi umaksyon ang pamahalaan dahil simula pa noong Agosto 2015, masinsing tinututukan ang sitwasyon sa El Niño ng lahat ng mga tinutukoy na ahensiya ng ating pamahalaan. Kaya dapat ay maisiwalat natin ang katotohanang iyan,” he added. (Jonathan Santes and Genalyn D. Kabiling)