COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao: Former North Cotabato Gov. Emmanuel Piñol denied involvement in any form in the protest of farmers and lumad (indigenous peoples) in Kidapawan City that killed three persons and wounded scores of others.
Piñol made the denial after Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala put the blame on local politics and specifically pointed to the former governor for instigating the farmers, leading to the bloody dispersal by the police on Friday.
Three farmers – Rotello Daelto, Victor Lumandang and Enrico Pabrica – were killed in the incident, which also left more than 116 others injured, among them 26 policemen.
“The reality on the ground at Kidapawan is that it’s politically motivated by the local politicians led by Piñol,” Alcala was quoted in a national daily (not The Manila Times).
Alcala also fed wrong information to the media when he said that one of the brothers of Piñol is running against reelectionist North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño, who is backed by the Liberal Party.
Contrary to Alcala’s statement, none of the Piñol brothers is running for governor of North Cotabato.
However, three of Piñol’s brothers are in politics – North Cotabato Rep. Jun Piñol, Mayor Joselito Piñol of the town of M’lang and Magpet Mayor Efren Piñol.
Piñol said that Alcala, in accusing him for his involvement in the Kidapawan carnage was dead wrong.
“Far from that, my presence there was seen by many, including the governor, as political. I am not running for any public office, I have retired from politics,” Piñol said.
“I am campaigning for the presidential bid of Mayor Rody Duterte,” he added. “My presence in the area was to gather reports so I can submit to Mayor Duterte and for him to extend help in whatever way he can.”
“No politics here. The truth is farmers are asking for food and they got bullets, this is the kind of government we have now,” he further said.
He said he was arranging a meeting between Duterte and the farmers’ leaders on how the Davao mayor could extend help.
“I was there because I wanted to tell the hungry farmers that there is a presidential candidate now who truly cares for them. I’m sorry that I was not able to do it earlier. I apologize to the families of the farmers who were killed, and those who were wounded, including the policemen who were injured, most of whom are from my hometown, M’lang.
“In spite of this tragic turn of events, I am certain that we are seeing the last days of government insensitivity to the cries of the poor for help in times in crisis,” Piñol further stressed.