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“Aquino is the massacre king! With impunity, his government has killed and continues to kill our farmers and people,” said League of Filipino Students (LFS) national chairperson Charisse Bañez.

Following the shooting of farmers and Lumad who have been blockading the Cotabato-Davao highway in Kidapawan City, students led by LFS and Kabataan Partylist trooped to Mendiola Peace Arch to express their “utmost condemnation”.

The protesters burned a mock logo of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and an image of President Noynoy Aquino to demonstrate their indignation.

“In the strongest possible term, we condemn the violent and bloody dispersal of protesting farmers in Kidapawan City. We are fuming with rage! It is beyond despicable that the Philippine National Police and state elements opened fire to a democratic gathering with legitimate demands,” Bañez said.

According to ground reports, three persons were already confirmed dead. 30 farmers were reportedly wounded, 8 of them were hit by bullets in the neck, stomach, and leg while 22 were hurt by the brutal dispersal. As of writing, 60 were reported missing.

Bañez also revealed that even after the dispersal, the protesters who seek refuge in United Methodist Church were being blocked by armed police and military from leaving.

“These farmers are already starving and suffering from El Niño. They were abandoned by the Aquino regime for seven months. They have barricaded the Cotabato-Davao Highway to pressure the government to heed their demands for the immediate release of calamity funds and rice,” said Bañez.

According to Bañez, the protest is legitimate as the North Cotabato government promised food relief after declaring the province under a state of calamity in January.

“This is the legacy of Aquino. The administration abandoned its responsibilities to the people but if the people demand for their democratic and legitimate rights, the government will employ brutal and bloody measures against them,” Bañez added.

“We are reminded of the massacre in Hacienda Luista, the large parcels of land owned by the president’s family. Even during his term as the president, Lumad in Mindanao were brutally killed and massacred – from Paquibato to Lianga to different Lumad communities,” she continued.

“As massacre king, Aquino makes use of state armed forces – the police and military – to repeatedly violate our human rights and right to organize and peaceable assembly with impunity. We cannot allow this to continue,” Bañez added.

Bañez chided the statement released by PNP saying that they have exerted maximum tolerance.

“To believe in PNP’s statement is like asking us to boil the ocean. The PNP are the only ones who can fire gunshots to the protesters. They are also hell-bent in dispersing the blockade since day 1,” said Bañez.

“And this carnage in Kidapawan City is far from having maximum tolerance. Farmers, Lumad, and their children are fearing for their lives because of the state brutality,” Bañez added.

“We will not let this slide. Heads must roll. This is a crime to our people,” said Bañez.

“The policemen in Kidapawan should be immediately disarmed and suspended. The ones who shot the bullets should unquestionably put behind bars. Aquino is equally responsible and must be held accountable. The government should unconditionally give the demands of the farmers for calamity fund and food,” Bañez ended.

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