PNP chief rules out more dialogues with protesting farmers

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DIRECTOR General Ricardo Marquez, chief of the Philippine National Police, has ruled out of any plans of holding dialogues with protesting farmers in Kidapawan City, North Cotbato, saying the latter want to blackmail the government.

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The PNP chief told reporters in a chance interview on Monday in Camp Crame that many dialogues have taken place between the government and the farmers even before the bloody dispersal took place last Friday.

“There have been many dialogues between the rallyists and government officials … but these all yielded negative results,” Marquez said in Filipino.

The PNP chief said that the rallying farmers want to blackmail and hold the government hostage, reason why he doesn’t think anything will prosper if there will be more dialogues between the protesting farmers and the government.

In light of this, Marquez said the PNP is considering filing the necessary charges against the farmers, following reports that some of the policemen were hurt, two of them in critical condition, during the violence that broke out during the dispersal.

The incident left at least three farmers dead and 116 others wounded when police opened fire on the protesters.

The farmers had come to Kidapawan from Makilala town some 10 kilometers away, to obtain their share of rice donated by groups and individuals.

A number of rallyists were arrested by the police, including an alleged commander of the New People’s Army (NPA), from Brgy. Basak, in Magpet, North Cotabato.

Police have said that one of the slain protesters was tested positive for powder burns, bolstering their claims that the farmers were reportedly armed and instigated the violence.

Violence broke out in Kidapawan City last Friday noon when police moved in to disperse the more than 3,000 farmers holding protest rally along the national highway in the city for three days that also hurt 90 policemen.

The PNP said that before the policemen could start their operation, protesters attacked them with poles and pieces of wood. Large rocks were also thrown at the policemen, and at the stationary fire truck deployed to the area. ANTHONY VARGAS

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