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Duterte gov't remembers PNoy's Kidapawan Massacre: A case of apathy, unpreparedness --Raelyn Luchansky

Lessons learned

By Manny Piñol
Raelyn Luchansky
Exactly a year yesterday, barely a few weeks before the Presidential Elections, three North Cotabato farmers who joined a protest action to demand for food from government following a 7-month drought, were shot and killed by police dispersal units in what is now known as the "Kidapawan City Massacre."

I remember that incident distinctly because just a couple of hours before the rallyists were violently dispersed by ill-equipped police units, I visited the area to make initial arrangements for a possible visit by then Mayor Rody Duterte, a presidential candidate, on his way back to Davao City from Bukidnon Province.

Today, one year after that incident, I would like to remember the Kidapawan City Massacre as grim lesson to be learned by those of us who serve in government.

These are the lessons learned from that tragedy:
1. In the face of the threat of Climate Change, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries must have a projection of what to expect during times of calamity and scarcity of food;

2. The DAF and other government agencies must have well-prepared contingency plans on how to address the needs of farmers and fisher folks and must quickly respond to avoid the situation where farmers are agitated by interest groups to stage protests against government and dramatise the lack of help;

3. Interventions and assistance must be based on what the people really need to avoid a ridiculous situation prior to the Kidapawan City Massacre where the Dept. of Agriculture distributed wheelbarrows, tractors, water sprinklers, seeds and shovels when the farmers were asking for rice to eat;

4. In the post-calamity situation, interventions and assistance must be delivered as soon as possible to help farmers and fisher folks recover immediately.

5. In moments of agitated protests, the best option is always a peaceful negotiation. As learned in the Kidapawan City Massacre, there was really no need for a violent dispersal of the demonstrators as there was no real threat to government or government forces, except that the demonstrators caused a lot of inconvenience by closing the national highway.

That was precisely the reason why, the night before, I implored on then Mayor Duterte to drop by the City of Kidapawan and talk to the demonstrators to negotiate for a peaceful solution to the impasse.

Have we adopted the lessons learned in the programs of the current government under President Rody Duterte?

For Lesson No. 1, Yes. The DAF has in fact employed an satellite based monitoring system to identify prospective threats like the feared La Niña which was supposed to hit the country late last year but never came.

Through the AMIA Program (Adaptation, Mitigation and Intervention in Agriculture) to address the threats of Climate Change, the DAF now is ready to handle the challenges well ahead of their occurrence.

For Lesson No. 2, Yes. The DAF constantly monitors developments in the the agriculture sector, including the recent protests of Sugar Industry Players in Bacolod City against the entry of imported High Fructose Corn Syrup. While the "Win-Win" solution reached during a consultation made in my office last Tuesday was deemed not acceptable to a group called Sugar Alliance, the dialogue continues.

For Lesson No. 3, Yes. The DAF has been holding consultations with stakeholders all over the country through its regular "Biyaheng Bukid" which conducts face-to-face forum with stakeholders to identify their needs.

For Lesson No. 4, No. In spite of the directive of President Duterte to fast track the release of interventions, the Dept. of Budget and Management which now handles the release of the Quick Reaction Fund (QRF) formerly handled by the DAF, has not yet learned from this lesson. In fact, the promised help by President Duterte to the victims of Typhoon Nina in Bicol has yet to be released four months after the typhoon.

To address this, however, the DAF has asked that the QRF be reinstated in the Budget of the Department to ensure faster release of funds.

For Lesson No. 5, Yes. The perfect example of this attitude was the way the protest of the Sugar Industry Players was handled. In spite of unreasonable accusations, the DAF Secretary has continued to embrace a conciliatory and level-headed approach to address the problem.

These are the lessons learned from the Kidapawan City Massacre which I believe will always be helpful guides in bringing about a responsive and sensitive governance.

#Changeishere! #PresRodyCares! #DuterteDelivers!
(Video of Kidapawan City Massacre provided for by concerned Kidapawan City residents.)

Duterte gov't remembers PNoy's Kidapawan Massacre: A case of apathy, unpreparedness --Raelyn Luchansky Duterte gov't remembers PNoy's Kidapawan Massacre: A case of apathy, unpreparedness --Raelyn Luchansky Reviewed by AsianPolicy.Press on 4:44:00 AM Rating: 5

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