MANILA, April 25, 2016— A religious group has questioned the alleged inaction of the Aquino government in addressing the El Niño problem.
The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines said thousands of farmers are demanding relief from Mindanao, Negros, and Cagayan Valley, as the continuing drought worsens “their already impoverished state.”
“We are compelled to ask the president whether he is capable of hearing the cry of the poor and hungry farmers,” said RMP national coordinator Sr. Francis Añover, RSM.
“It is already ironic that those who cultivate for the country’s food needs still need to barricade a highway to get attention for food aid,” she said.
Thousands still protesting
RMP said the violent disperal of protesting farmers in Kidapawan City early this month did not cow the hungry farmers into halting their mobilizations demanding for relief.
“If the farmers do not organize themselves and act in unison, they and their families would certainly die of starvation. It is explicable that they are waging with their safety, liberty, and lives in holding protests that at least they have a fighting chance to get food,” Añover added.
At the Kidapawan protest, some 6,000 farmers were demanding 15,000 sacks of rice; while in Bukidnon, 5,000 farmers were demanding 4,200 sacks or 1 sack for each family; in Koronadal, South Cotabato, the 3,000 farmers are demanding 15,000 sacks; in Sultan Kudarat and Saranggani, the demands are also 15,000 sacks, while in General Santos City, 8,000 sacks. There are 2,000 farmers in Cagayan De Oro City, Misamis Oriental also demanding food aid while hundreds protested in Davao City and Pagadian City, Zamboanga Del Sur.
Meanwhile in Cagayan Valley, about 3,000 farmers protested marking the April 22 Earth Day by demanding relief from the effects of the drought. In Negros, farm workers are demanding government aid as they are facing “tiempo muerto” or the dead season or the non-existence of sources of livelihood as the lands are monocropped with sugarcane. The dead season in Negros is estimated to affect 5 million farmers.
In Quezon City, farmers affect by the MRT 7 project in San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan protested near Aquino Times Street residence as it is bulldozing their crops that are their only sources of livelihood. In Hacienda Luisita, farm workers also condemned the recent bulldozing of their crops by the Cojuangco-Aquino family.
“Farmers protesting by the tens of thousands is serious and their legitimate demands should not be belittled,” stressed Añover.
In response to the Kidapawan atrocity, the religious women and men of RMP launched a relief mission to gather support for the farmers in Mindanao and other regions affected by drought.
RMP urged the religious community to ask the same question while concretely taking steps to alleviate the poverty and hunger the agricultural sector is now confronting. (CBCPNews)