MANILA, April 1, 2016 —The Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) condemned the brutal dispersal of protesting farmers in Kidanawan City, resulting in one death and the injury of 30 others.
Based on news reports, law enforcers sprayed bullets on protesting farmers, who are demanding assistance from the government as their fields and crops were heavily damaged by drought.
”When the hunger of the poor brings violent responses from those in leadership, these leaders are not fit to govern. … Rather than showing compassion and responding mercifully to their cry for help, ruthless elected officials and their state forces answered these poor citizens with callous disdain and brazen violence,” says PCPR co-chair Rev. Marie Sol Villalon in a statement sent to CBCPNews.
Suffering from months of drought due to El Niño, poor farmers, who had been requesting government aid to no avail, had planned to journey together with lumad organizations to the city to make their cry for government assistance known.
Villalon said the nation faces a severe moral crisis as the “cries of the people for food have been answered with hurled stones and life-destroying bullets.”
According to him, the barricade at the Cotabato-Davao national highway “only punctuates the extreme need of the communities represented by 5,000 farmers, lumad, and supporters who had gathered.”
Villalon stressed the need for a government that responds to the needs of communities, respecting their efforts to make their “dire situations known.”
“The poor should be encouraged to advocate for their communities and to organize for the betterment of their lives. As they have lived for decades with inadequate access to basic needs and services, drought conditions are literally unbearable,” he stressed.
Villalon also demanded the Aquino administration’s immediate release of calamity support for those affected by drought in Mindanao.
El Niño had already wreaked havoc in different parts of the country, particularly in Mindanao, resulting in Php 4.002 billion-worth of damage in crops and other agriculture produce, says the Agriculture department.
(Noel Sales Barcelona / CBCPNews)