Govt to punish those responsible for violent dispersal of Cotabato protesters

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MALACAÑANG vowed Friday to hold accountable those who will be found responsible for the violent and deadly dispersal of protesters, including farmers, in the southern Philippine city of Kidapawan.

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At least two protesters were killed and more than 30 others, mostly policemen, were hurt when the dispersal turned violent on Friday morning at the city’s Davao-Cotabato highway in the province of Cotabato.

“Accountability is being established and appropriate sanctions will be meted out if justified by the findings of the investigations,” Presidential Communications Herminio Coloma, Jr., Secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, said in a statement.

Hundreds of farmers suffering from the long drought an members of militant groups had barricaded starting from Wednesday the Davao-Cotabato highway, demanding, among other things, the release of 15,000 sacks of rice as calamity assistance.

Coloma stressed that the Philippine National Police (PNP) is already conducting a thorough investigation of the incident.

Citing a PNP report, Coloma added that 40 members of the police force were wounded, including two police officers who sustained severe head trauma injuries after a clash with the protesters.

“According to DILG Secretary (Mel) Sarmiento, the provincial government had assumed responsibility for the law enforcement operations pertaining to the mass action on the Davao-Cotabato highway,” Coloma said. CATHERINE VALENTE

CV/BF

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