KIDAPAWAN CITY—The Philippine National Police Region 12 (PNP–12) has relieved two of its top police officers in North Cotabato province concomitant to the controversial April 1 dispersal of thousands of protesting farmers who blockaded the segment of the Cotabato – Davao highway here to stage their plight on the harsh effects of the drought-spawned El Niño phenomenon.
The protesting peasants withheld traffic flow along the highway for four days prior to the chaotic dispersal that claimed the lives of two farmers and wounding of over a hundred peasants and anti-riot cops alike.
P/Sr. Supt. Danilo Peralta, administrative head of PNP – 12, confirmed Friday the relief of P/Sr. Supt. Alexander Tagum as the provincial director and P/Supt. John Calinga as Kidapawan police director.
The relief order stemmed from the law enforcement operation currently being investigated by the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
Peralta stressed that such directive is a standard operating procedure to any officer that will undergo investigation.
The same order stipulated that P/Supt. Jose Briones, concurrent provincial police operations chief, would seat as North Cotabato police officer-in-charge while P/Supt Noel Kinazo, provincial police office deputy chief for administration, acts as Calinga’s replacement.
Both Tagum and Calinga are mandated to submit themselves to the ongoing investigation, Peralta said.
This developed as the remaining 1,114 farmers staying at the compound of a local church returned home on Thursday to their respective communities in the province.
The last batch of farmers was part of a much bigger 6,000 – strong peasant group that clashed with 200 anti-riot cops during the disputed police dispersal operation.
Jerry Alborme, provincial chair of Kilusang Magbubukid Ng Pilipinas, said each peasant went home with 25 kilos of rice over donations that reached 1,223 bags following the dispersal incident.
He said that out of the total rice donation, 245 bags were consumed during the rally while the residual 978 bags had been divided among the persistent colleagues, which include 1,024 at the United Methodist Church compound, 79 who are currently detained and 11 others confined at the hospital.
Alborme said upcoming rice donations would be coursed through the Philippine National Red Cross and partners due to existing Commission on Election regulations that prohibits government entities on releasing funds in context to the May 9, 2016 national and local polls.