Below is a statement from the People's Coalition on Food Sovereignty regarding the recent protest by indigenous Lumad farmers in Kidapawan City in the Northern Cotabato region of Mindanao, Philippines. For more information, check out the news.
Justice for Kidapawan Farmers
We would like to express our utmost condemnation on the killing of unarmed farmers asking for food relief. The people of North Cotobato are suffering from severe drought. The inutile response of government to help them survive such crisis is inhuman enough. To hoard the food relief intended for them is simply criminal. To open fire at them when they were demanding what is due them is plain evil.
Thousands of farmers in Kidapawan, North Cotobatodecided to temporarily leave their farms to protest the hoarding of the food relief by the local government and to demand the release of the calamity funds supposedly intended for those whose crops were destroyed by the El Niño phenomenon.
After four days of peacefully protesting in front of the provincial office of the National Food Authority, the police forces decided to open fire at the unarmed farmers resulting to three dead and more than a hundred wounded.
Prior to the incident, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center (NDRRMC) confirmed in its March 10, 2016 advisory that "five (5) provinces were affected by dry spell while eighteen provinces, mostly from Mindanao, are experiencing dry condition since the previous month."
The said report also cited "the occurrence of grassfires in General Santos City and Cotobato City have already been reported due to prolonged dry conditions and warmer than average temperatures attributed to the ongoing El Niño phenomenon."
Even Malacañang was well aware of the calamity. In fact, as early as December, President Benigno Aquino III approved a P19 billion budget to combat the effects of El Niño, which may last until May 2016. North Cotobato was already identified as one of the 9 provinces experiencing dry spell as early as December.
Top politicians however are still debating the distribution of such budget. The Philippines is currently going through a highly contested national election. In earlier reports, opposition party spokesperson Toby Tiangco claimed that the administration party was using P581 billion from the national budget supposedly to help in garnering votes for the administration's candidates instead of helping the poor.
This is precisely the question being raised by the protesting farmers in Kidapawanbefore they where shot by the authorities - after three long months of severe drought, where is the calamity fundand food relief that were supposed to help them?
Up to now, even after the shooting of protesting farmers, the calamity funds are still not being distributed in North Cotobato including the 15,000 sacks of rice subsidy to farmers severely affected by drought. People are being told that the food relief will only be distributed when the campaign sortie of the administration's political party arrives in the province.
We call upon the international community to unite in supporting the people of Kidapawan and condemn the killings of innocent farmers and other victims of state repression in the Philippines.
We also call for the investigation and prosecution of government officials responsible for anomalies in managing the calamity funds and the violent dispersal of the protesting farmers especially for the killing of RotelloDaelto of Arakan town who was already wounded when fatally shot at close range by the police.
We also call for an independent body to investigate the massacre in Kidapawan, which will involve civil society organizations, International Humanitarian Institutions and UN Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
North Cotabato provincial governor LalaTalino-Mendoza, the Provincial Police Chief and the AFP's provincial commander should be immediately suspended while the incident is being investigated.
Justice for the Farmers of Kidapawan and other victims of state repression in the Philippines!
Defend the people's right to food and the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly!
Implement genuine agrarian reform and food sovereignty!
Peoples Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS)
Arab Network for Food Sovereignty (ANFS)
Roots for Equity and Pakistan KissanMazdoorTehreek.
Tanzania Organization for Agricultural Development (TOfAD)
SWEAT Development Programme in Kiteto Tanzania
Irrigation Training and Economic Empowerment Organization (IRTECO)
ASIAN PEASANT COALITION (APC)
All Nepal Peasants; Federation
SWEAT Development Programme in Kiteto Tanzania
Global People's Surge
International Women's Alliance
Cordillera Peoples Alliance
IMA Research Foundation
Labour,Health and Human Rights Development Centre
Economics Association of Malawi
Society of Development and Education for Small Households..SODESH
La Solidaridad Hispano - Filipina
COORDINACION DE ONG Y COOPERATIVAS -CONGCOOP-
Centre for Human Rights and Development (CHRD)
AsociacionQachuuAloom, (Madre Tierra) Rabinal, Baja Verapaz
AsociacionRaxch' och' OxlajuAj (Tierra Verde 13 Aj) AROAJ.InstitutoGiramundoMutuando – Brasil
Grupo de TrabajoCambioClimático y Justicia de Bolivia (GTCCJ-Bolivia)
Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation (BAFLF)
COMMUNITY AND FLY AID FOUNDATION -GHANA
Asociaciónafrocolombiana de pescadores con cordel - APESCORDEL
National Women Farmers & Workers Association (NWFA)
Asia Monitor Resource Centre
MILAGROS S. SERRANA, Miriam College
Friends of the Earth Japan
KIYO Children's rights NGO
Women's Environment & Development Organization (WEDO)
Programme on Women's Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (PWESCR)
Voluntary Action Network India
SFBLSP_Burundi "Association des droits de la femme"
Andhra Pradesh VyavasayaVruthidarula Union (APVVU)
SAHANIVASA , India
NISARGA , India
Andhra Pradesh Matyakarula (fisher Folk ) Union
Solidarity Center for Sustainable Community Development (SCODE)
Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC)
Centre for Human Rights and Climate Change Research, Nigeria
Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform
Peoples Alliance for Right to Land
National Movement for Food Sovereignty
Central Visayas Farmers Development Center (FARDEC)
National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates (NNARA-Youth
RadanarAyar Association - Myanmar
KeluargaBesarBuruhMigran Indonesia (KABAR BUMI)
Institute for National and Democracy Studies (INDIES), Indonesia
SILDAP-Southeastern Mindanao, Incorporated
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