Press Release
April 8, 2016

Cayetano: Gov't lying on Kidapawan and El Niño

"Puro palusot at pagsisinungaling."

Vice presidential candidate and Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano had this to say as he hit back at Malacañang for trying to downplay the people's clamor for help amid the enduring El Niño phenomenon that is severely affecting Filipino farmers livelihood.

During a Senate hearing on the violent dispersal of protesting farmers in Kidapawan City, Cayetano took a swipe at the administration for failing to immediately release adequate funds to mitigate the ill effects of the drought in the province. In response, Malacañang described the senator's claims as "untrue and unfounded," adding that since the creation of an El Niño Task Force, enough resources were deployed in affected areas.

Mendoza admitted gov't neglect

Cayetano, however, remained firm in his stand and even accused the administration of lying to the public. "Governor Mendoza, who happens to be a Liberal Party (LP) member, told us herself during the hearing that their local government wrote a letter to the national government to ask for assistance, but nothing came," Cayetano said, referring to North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza.

"Tama na palusot at pagsisinungaling. We actually have P45 billion worth of funds in the 2016 budget that may be used for projects that will curb the impact of this crisis. Kung determinado ang Palasyo na resolbahin ito, magagawa nila. Pero bakit kailangan pang sumulat ng lokal na pamahalaan? Bakit maraming magsasaka pa rin ang patuloy na nagugutom at naghihirap," Cayetano added.

Cayetano stressed that if the national government had immediately taken action to heed the people's demands, thousands of farmers would not have staged a protest, and the tragic incident in Kidapawan could have been avoided.

Neglected farmers, police

"Pero iniwan ng Palasyo ang mga magsasaka ng Kidapawan. Iniwan nito ang North Cotabato," Cayetano lamented. "Pati mga pulis pinabayaan. Wala na ngang sapat na kagamitan gaya ng dispersal equipment, kinasangkapan pa laban sa mga magsasaka," the senator added.

Cayetano particularly questioned the absence of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala in the hearing. He said he would have wanted the cabinet member to explain his statement that the areas where the protesting farmers came from did not suffer much from the El Niño.

"Tagasaang planeta si Sec. Alcala at tila may iba siyang bersyon ng realidad? I wanted to ask why he would utter such an insensitive statement. But he didn't show up at the hearing. This is a national issue, but the national leaders were missing in action,"Cayetano stressed.

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