Ouster of NCotabato governor sought

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Members of women’s group Gabriela on Monday sought the removal of North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza over the violent dispersal of protesting farmers on April 1.

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The farmers barricaded the streets to dramatize their call for government assistance after more than six months of drought destroyed their crops.

“Not only has she failed her constituents by not releasing the calamity fund that had been earmarked for the agriculture sector, she even ordered the violent dispersal of the protest which killed at least three farmers and injured many more,” said Misty Lorin, deputy secretary general of the group.

“She has also arrogantly refused rice aid being given to the farmers and called such acts as insult to her as head of local government in North Cotabato. And now she has the gall to organize a rally in her favor that would be using funds from the government despite her denial. The funds should have been given to the farmers instead,” Lorin said.

Gabriela also called on the DILG to order the immediate pullout of the Philippine National Police personnel in the area and the removal from office of all police personnel involved in the dispersal.

“These cannot bring back the lives of those they killed but these are the right things to do given the brutality of the attack on the unarmed farmers. Women and children were among those peacefully protesting for their right to survive. Any government whose citizens have to demand to survive and then met with violence must not be allowed to be in power,” Lorin said.

Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento created two fact-finding panels to investigate the circumstances behind the clash between the policemen and farmers.

The first panel, headed by the National Police Commission (Napolcom) under Commissioner Job Mangente, will focus on the operational aspect of the dispersal.

The second panel will look at the steps taken by concerned local government units in addressing the impacts of El Niño. It will be headed by Director Manuel Gotis of the Bureau of Local Government Supervision.

Sarmiento said one of the farmers who died was found positive of gunpowder.

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