KIDAPAWAN CITY – Police have withdrawn from the vicinity of United Methodist Church here Tuesday afternoon that signaled the return to normalcy of the Kidapawan “crisis” that started by farmers’ protest that turned violent.
With Kidapawan Diocese administrator Monsignor Lito Garcia and Bro. Manny de Leon FMS, president of Notre Dame of Kidapawan College (NDKC) mediating and hopping between farmers’ rally leaders and the local police and local political leaders, a “win-win solution” was reached, at least for now.
Bro. de Leon said Tuesday night that both sides agreed that the police officers will withdraw from the vicinity of the UMC compound and that the farmers will no longer barricade the national highway.
“They also agreed that rice donations loaded on cargo trucks will not be subjected to thorough inspection by the police and will not prevent entry of rice,” he said in a phone interview, adding he had visitors, the Missionary of the Assumption sisters from Davao City who would like to visit the UMC compound.
“The police leaders were my students, the farmer leaders were students of the Missionary of the Assumption sisters from Davao, so we managed to developed trust, that’s the start of what I call win-win solution acceptable to either side,” he said.
Brother de Leon and Fr. Lito also met with Senior Supt. Alexander Tagum, North Cotabato police chief.
“We always remember the values you taught us brother,” Bro. de Leon quoted Tagum as saying as he presented his guiding principles in helping both sides come to an agreement.
After meeting with Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista, North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza and representatives from Camp Crame, Bro. de Leon said an “acceptable solution” is in the air.
At about 3 p.m., Bro. de Leon said he smelled an agreement will be reached shortly. “I and Fr. Lito Garcia were instruments of peace and reconciliation and we just did that.”
At 4 p.m. cops withdrew and normalcy was slowly getting back. “Filipino tayo, pwede naman tayo mag-usap (We are all Filipinos, we can talk),” he said.
De Leon said the farmers agreed to return to their respective places of origin after they shall have received the rice they have asked.
Looking back, Bro. de Leon said: “Violence occurred because we refuse to understand each other. Hope we have learned from that and it will never happen again.”
In the meantime, more and more sacks of rice are coming to the United Methodist Church compound from well-meaning individuals.
Bai Endayla, one of the leaders of the protesters, said the rice donations are equally divided to all farmers who participated in the protest action.