As of this posting, President Benigno Aquino III remains silent on the violent dispersal in Kidapawan. Members from all sides of the issue have taken this silence to deliberately mean something else - neglect, ambivalence, and so on.
Last April 1, around 6, 000 protestors flocked in the Cotabato-Davao Highway in Kidapawan City demand for the distribution of the sacks of the rice the government promised them. Broken by police dispersal, at least three rallyists died while over a hundred people were reportedly injured. The details beyond this have gone vague as rallyists and the police give conflicting versions of what took place.
The Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights has launched an investigation of the issue last April 7.
What does the silence mean? It means different things to different stakeholders.
Baong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)
In a statement released on its website, Bayan accused the president of being too busy campaigning for the administration bets to even say anything on the matter.
Bayan Secretary General Renato M. Reyes, Jr. said:
"In this time of crisis, where is the president? Nasaan ang pangulo? Is he still too busy campaigning to even give a hoot about the plight of the farmers? He has not spoken since the shooting took place."
Bayan's official website describes the group as a multi-sectorial formation that struggles for liberation from foreign domination and similar social ills.
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)
KMP recalled Aquino's roots in Hacienda Luisita, making it seem as if it were a behavior to be expected from an Aquino.
KMP chair Rafael Mariano said in a statement released on their website:
“Aquino’s deafening silence shows that he is used to violent dispersals and massacres as a habitual practice of the landlord president in dismissing farmers’ just, legitimate, and moral demands."
The site describes the group as a "democratic and militant movement" of landless and marginalized farmers, struggling for a true agrarian reform, the protection of their rights, among other things.
An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)
There is a difference between laying the blame and acknowledging a harm inflicted on an individual. For Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, a CBCP official, the lack of the latter showed Aquino's apathy.
The Inquirer reported that the head of the CBCP permanent committee on public affairs said the following in a Radio Veritas interview:
“There were no messages of sympathy, condolences or regrets or (assurance of) a decision to get into the bottom of this incident. Our government should protect our people, not isolate them.”
International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL)
IADL, a non-government organization with consultative status in the United Nations, called out on the Filipino police, accusing them of violating the rights to life, to food, and to be free from arbitrary detention.
In its online statement, it said:
"These illegal police actions are tacitly supported by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, as exemplified by his silence on the matter."
Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office
How does an ally of the administration hear the Aquino's silence?
According to Rappler, Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III said that the president would not release any statement on the issue unless he receives the investigation findings.
The head of the communications office said: "What he has never done is rush to judgment and to speak imprudently, particularly in an instance when lives are lost. I do believe the President will refrain from making any statements until he has fully studied the matter and is satisfied with all the answers that he has received as a result of demanding an impartial and thorough investigation."
While there may be many interpretations to the President's silence, they echo the same question:
Why can't he at least acknowledge the farmers' loss?