The 8 Stages of the
It’s difficult to form an opinion on what is going on in the Kidapawan Crisis, as it has turned into little more than a melee between those who side with the farmers and those who side with the law enforcement agencies present and the local government units. For as long as the facts are in dispute, any opinion we may have on what should have been done, and what to do next are questionable at best, but there are some things we cannot dispute.
First of all, people have rights. Whether they’re farmers, leftists, or leftist farmers, none of them deserve to die of starvation.
Secondly, lethal force should always be a last resort when it comes to dispersing a crowd, even if the crowd is violent. This was not observed at all.
Thirdly, anyone who chooses to politicize this event instead of simply alleviating the problem is pretty much betraying this country for the sake of the almighty vote. Screw anyone who does this.
This protest didn’t come overnight. It actually was in the making since 2015, since El Nino started to affect the area adversely. Furthermore, there was a non-distribution of rice by the NFA despite the declaration of a state of calamity by the local government.
From there, here are the 8 stages of a crisis that still has no end in sight. We can only hope for a speedy resolution and a re-acknowledgment of the plain and simple fact that human rights trump everything else here, and any people hurt or killed by this crisis, be it police or protester, all deserve the same things—and injury or death are not among those things.
8. The Protest
On March 29, around 500 farmers camped outside of the Kidapawan’s NFA office to demand for supplies in the middle of a particularly ruthless bout with El Nino. When you realize that the very people supposed to be producing our food are the ones who are starving, you kind of feel a bit worried for everybody else.
7. The Escalation
By the next day, that initial 500 hundred ballooned to an estimated 6,000 protesters, and this is where the LGU would claim that there was a high number of farmers and even leftist militants who were not Kidapawan residents who were present. The presence of the NPA among the ranks of protesters was also alleged.
6. The Standstill
Given the suspicion of agitators amongs the ranks of protesters, the Governor of Kidapawan playing hard-ball, denying a promised 15,000 sacks of rice, because she (understandably) didn’t want to give that rice to people who aren’t even residents of Kidapawan. Unfortunately, there was no solution presented to identify who were from Kidapawan and who weren’t, nor was the rice to be distributed even there, either way.
5. The Dispersal
Come April 1, after the expiration of the rally permit, the law enforcement agents decided to clear the highways of the protesting farmers. This was when things turned violent. Injuries on both sides occurred, three farmers were killed, and one policeman is still in critical condition. Given the nature of conflicting claims on this contentious point of the conflict, what cannot be denied is that the police used firearms with live ammunition when they clearly should not have.
4. The Search
Some protesters sought sanctuary in a nearby Methodist Church, which was promptly surrounded and then searched by law enforcement agents for firearms, as there were claims that the farmers used firearms of their own. No weapons were found in the search, which means the only evidence of firearm usage was on the law enforcement units.
3. The Blockade
In a bizarre act that really made the #BigasHindiBala hashtag popular, the Kidapawan government decided to block donations to Kidapawan and refused to distribute these donations to the farmers, citing the fact that it is an insult to her administratorship that people would do this. Never mind that people are starving. Never mind that people are dying. Never mind that this is a blatant violation of human rights to the point that even the CHR had to call this out.
2. The Call to Probe
While tensions have subsided, the Senate has now expressed its interest in beginning a probe into the issue. There is a need to find out what went wrong and how people’s needs could have been properly addressed even if we were to concede the presence of agitators among the protestors. People don’t magically lose their rights just because they’re surrounded by communists. Neither do these communists lose their rights, either, by the way.
1. The Finger-Pointing
All things considered, it’s pretty amazing the president has not said a single word about the issue. The Governor clearly has it in for presidential candidate Duterte, while Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo, running mates, have slightly conflicting views on how to handle the issue. The military blames the reds, the reds blame the government, the government blames the media for sensationalizing the issue, the media points fingers at whose heads should roll for this tragedy.
Meanwhile, in the middle of the bickering, our farmers are still starving. And thanks to the food blockade, there’s nothing the common people can do about it, because we’re all just hapless witnesses to an avoidable tragedy unfolding right before our very eyes.
It’s really more fun in the Philippines, huh?