Which comes first, food or bullet?
MALACAÑANG’S failure to act swiftly on the protest staged on a stretch of highway in Kidapawan, North Cotabato, mirrors yet another instance of the Aquino administration’s stupidity in handling crisis situations.
The protest was reminiscent of the Mendiola killings, Hacienda Luisita massacre, Luneta hostage-taking, Zamboanga siege, the “Yolanda” devastation in Leyte, the Mamasapano clash, just to name a few incidents, where hundreds of lives were wasted, millions—or even billions—of pesos worth of property destroyed and, most importantly, our pride as a people shattered.
Indeed, the buck stops with Malacañang, and President Aquino, no matter how much his apologists try to defend him, gets the axe for failing to address the problem promptly before it blew up into a crisis.
And I think the main reason for the delayed response to the problem was the pretentious attitude of the local government to get into the bottom of the issue: Why farmers, some of them tagged as leftists, organized themselves and virtually barricaded the Kidapawan-Davao national highway. The delay led to the death of three farmers and the wounding of dozens of others.
Again, the arrogance and the insensitivity of the Aquino administration to this latest brutality, inflicted on the people he had pledged to serve, come to the fore; and we cannot but decry the ineptitude of Malacañang in dealing with a problem that involved hundreds of Cotabato peasants who, with their farms dried up by prolonged drought, were just asking for food to eat.
An empty stomach knows no reason, nor civility. The primary, immediate concern of a grumbling stomach is food, and this was the case of the hundreds of small farmers who articulated their misery and frustration with the government through a protest action.
With the election campaign peaking, the Kidapawan protest-turned-violent could yet spell another big blow to the administration’s candidates and push the poll ratings of the ruling Liberal Party’s standard-bearer, Mar Roxas, further down.
Mainstream and social media are now simmering with angry comments on the bloody highway assault in Kidapawan, deriding P-Noy’s famous line “Kayo ang boss ko” as mere lip service.
The failure of government to quickly respond to a situation until it broke into a crisis calls to mind a question asked by P-Noy’s mother, Cory Aquino, when she was the president: “Who’s in charge here?” A question that only raised more questions about her competence as head of state and commander in chief. Like mother, like son?
Granting, without necessarily admitting, that the Kidapawan protesters were members of the New People’s Army, as police authorities now allege, we ask: So, which comes first, the food or the bullet?
Now, where is matuwid na daan?
—RUFFY MAGBANUA, [email protected]
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