North Cotabato residents to stage rally for peace, reconciliation

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The fireworks between hungry farmers and officials of North Cotabato appears to be far from over and now it looks like it is taking another face with thousands of people reportedly mobilizing to show their support to embattled Gov. Emmylou Taliño- Mendoza.

Mendoza said around 20,000 residents of North Cotabato will gather at the provincial capitol grounds on Monday, three days after the bloody dispersal of protesting farmers that resulted in the death of three and the wounding of many, including members of the police.

“The rally is to reclaim the peace in North Cotabato,” said Mendoza in an interview. “Many people are hurt and shocked because of what happened and they are doing this to save the smeared image the province.”

Meanwhile, Jerry Alborme, of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-North Cotabato, said the rally is in support “Mendoza’s brutality.”

He even accused Mendoza of bribing local officials of P50,000 if they are able to mobilize for each barangay for 30 persons brought to the rally.

“Gov. Mendoza has money for her own organized rally but cannot provide food for the hungry farmers,” he said. “This act will not save the governor but show the world that she is more interested to save face than to solve peoles’ problem.”

But Mendoza denied this.

“I have nothing to do with this rally,” she said although she admitted that rally is initiated by her supporters.

She said the gathering will be a “prayer rally for peace and reconciliation.”

“I was only told that they they will be showing up on Monday,” she said. “They assured me that this will be a peaceful demonstration.”

At the rally, will be representatives from various religions who will lead in the offering of prayers for peace, healing, and reconciliation, she said.

The accusation, she said, is unfair and unfounded.

“It’s not fair for the people of the province who are working hard to regain our peaceful life here,” she said.

In fact, she said, government vehicles will not be used during the demonstration and no free food will be provided to those who will attend.

“They just want to be there, to show their support. They said they want to repay what we in the province have done,” she said.

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