At least two farmers were reportedly killed while over 30 others were injured after the dispersal of protesters along Kidapawan Highway went awry and eventually erupted in violence on Friday.
Nine farmers were injured while another 24 members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were also hurt in the incident, GMA News Online reported.
InterAksyon.com listed some of the injured:
1. Roger Imuy 48, from Antipas town, hit in right arm
2. Leo Deyong, 28, from Magpet, hit in the knee
3. Darwin Madiao, 18, Mapget, hit in the right leg
4. Roland Jampas, 26, Arakan, wounded in the mouth
5. Mario Ansabo, 47, Arakan
6. Alce Awi, 35, wounded in the leg
7. Ejay Salaber, 54, Arakan, wounded in the head
8. Ricky Maat, 23, Magpet, hit by a stone in the head
9. Rodolfo Tanyo, 61, Arakan
The protesters, which have gathered since Wednesday, were estimated to be around 6,000 farmers with families in tow.
They were seeking immediate government assistance due to the El Niño phenomenon, which has severely affected their crops.
According to initial reports, the incident occurred after leaders of the group mostly from the Kilusang Magbubukid called for a second round of negotiations with North Cotabato Governor Emylou Mendoza.
Instead, they were given a final dispersal warning by the police that further raised the tension after the protesters refused to back down.
This led to physical confrontation between the rock-hurling farmers and baton-hitting cops, finally resulting in gunshots.
PNP Spokesman C/Supt. Wilben Mayor said they are already probing the incident to determine whether the police force was at fault.
"We reiterate that an investigation is ongoing. We will update the public of any findings. The public may rest assured that any violation of PNP rules and regulations shall be meted the appropriate penalty," he said.
All the camps of the presidential candidates, except administration bet Mar Roxas, blamed the government for the bloody dispersal.
The Malacañan Palace, through a statement issued by Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., said it is getting to the bottom of the incident.
"Accountability is being established and appropriate sanctions will be meted out if justified by the findings of the investigations," said Coloma.