At least three farmers were killed on April 1 when fully armed police forces shot at thousands of protesting farmers demanding the Aquino government to give immediate relief from the prolonged droughts that ravaged their farmlands since last year.
The police brutally assaulted unarmed farmers and lumad indigenous peoples who have been barricading the Cotabato-Davao highway in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato for the third straight day since the morning of March 30.
Anakbayan is one with the Filipino people in condemning in the strongest terms the bloody Kidapawan Massacre that resulted to 3 dead farmers and lumads, namely Rotello Daelto, Victor Lumandang, and Enrico Pabrica, 116 wounded, 89 missing and 78 illegally arrested.
Meanwhile, soldiers and police are besieging the United Methodist Church compound where over 4,500 farmers and their supporters have sought refuge after the massacre. Media and food donations have been blocked entry into the compound.
Over 6,000 farmers were then occupying the portion of the highway fronting the National Food Authority warehouse in Kidapawan while another 2,000 more peasants set up barricades in Makilala town, 10 kilometers away from Kidapawan, since March 31.
The farmers waited for six long months for the release of rice subsidies and rehabilitation funds promised to them by the Aquino government to ease the worst effects El Niño that ruined their farmlands and left their families with barely anything to eat.
All these past six months the heartless Aquino regime remained indifferent to the sufferings of the calamity-stricken and starving farmers. With no means to feed their families, the farmers had no other choice but to protest to bring attention to their plight.
But instead of listening to the anguished cries of a hungry people, scores of heavily armed police forces were deployed against the protesters. The Aquino government would answer their pleas for help with bullets.
The Aquino regime, the Philippine National Police, and the local government in the persons of Kidapawan Mayor Joseph Evangelista, Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, and police chief Alexander Tagum must be held accountable for the murderous rampage in Kidapawan.
President Aquino will forever be remembered in history not only for his arrogant indifference to the plight of the Filipino people but more so for his ravenous appetite for responding to the people’s just grievances with guns, bullets, and brutal repression.
The slaughter of innocent farmers in Kidapawan is no different from the 1987 Mendiola Massacre of peasants marching to Malacañang and the 2004 Hacienda Luisita Massacre of striking farmworkers in the estate owned by the Cojuangco-Aquinos.
From the Mamasapano bloodbath to the recent spate of killings of lumads in Mindanao and various cases of human rights abuses, the Cojuangco-Aquino hacendero dynasty’s bloody legacy will forever be engraved in the memory of the Filipino people.
The tragic events in Kidapawan can be rooted to a backward and foreign-dominated socio-economic system directed towards exporting cheap labor and raw materials and absolutely dependent on foreign investment, commodity imports, and debt.
This brutal system, which now finds its leading defender in the ruling Aquino regime, is characterized by the monopoly control of wide swathes of the countryside by landlords and the increasing landlessness and massive dispossession poor peasants who are thrown into hunger and precarious conditions.
Anakbayan believes that only a program of genuine agrarian reform through the free distribution of land to the farmers and the smashing of the land monopoly by a few landlords-compradors and foreign corporations can truly improve the lives of millions of the rural poor.
Land reform will form the foundation of national industrialization which will break the foreign stranglehold over the economy, provide massive employment in our own soil, and ensure that our resources will serve the needs of the Filipino people first.
The Aquino government remains unrepentant for the massacre and even attempts to justify the shooting of the unarmed farmers by deviously accusing them of being infiltrated by rebels and starting the violence first. It must pay for its accumulated blood debts to the people.
Anakbayan calls on the Filipino youth and people to stand with the farmers and lumads of North Cotabato in their fight for their rights and welfare. Let us heed the call to serve the defiant masses who are rising up from centuries of oppression and exploitation and be one with them in their continuing struggle for liberation.
Let us honor the memories of the victims of the massacre by further steeling our resolve to fight for genuine change. Bigas hindi bala! Justice for the victims of the Kidapawan massacre!