Though North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza took full responsibility over what transpired in the protests of farmers in Kidapawan City that took the lives of at least three civilians, she insisted that the police were not to be blamed.
However, according to an ABS-CBN News report, Mendoza said that the casualties from the protest were most probably caused by the stoning, and not by police shooting.
As quoted in ABS-CBN: “While it’s true that there were two casualties from the rallyists, the medico legal for sure will tell you that it came from the stoning that was initiated by the rallyists.”
The governor also said that there were no dispersal, only clearing operations along the national highway after it had been blocked by the protestors for four days.
“They shut down the national highway that will transport goods, and all those businesses along the national highway, in that one-kilometer range, were affected. We followed all what is provided for by the manual, reminding them of their rights, went to dialogue. Unfortunately, they took until Friday, on the fourth day with no more perfmit for that assembly. You can imagine the maximum tolerance exerted by the local government unit and the police.”
With North Cotabato declared in a state of calamity, farmers had been demanding the local government to provide relief goods such as rice, which was reportedly not yet given, and instead were received with bullets.
The governor denies any delay in the relief operations.
According to the ABS-CBN report, she said: "The issue here should never be rice. That's an insult. The issue here should never be the calamity funds. We are very prudent in the utilization of our calamity funds."
She also tried to discredit the protestors, claiming that may not even be farmers to begin with.
"Are they legitimate farmers? That's the first thing that we should ask ourselves. Are they from North Cotabato?"
According to a report from Philippine Star, the Commission on Human Rights will conduct an investigation into what transpired from the Kidapawan protest.
Kilab Multimedia, a project meant to visualize "people's struggles in Mindanao," released a video with clips from the actual protest, and what came after. You can watch it below.