Elusive Justice for Kidapawan Massacre victims, Disastrous Agriculture Continues

KIDAPAWAN CITY—A year after the infamous Kidapawan Massacre justice remains elusive for the victims despite of senate hearings and other investigations. In April 1, 2016, more than 5, 000 farmers that experienced severe hunger due to El Nino phenomenon asserted their right to food by demanding rice subsidies from the local and national government agencies. The Massacre claimed the life of Darwin Sulang, injuring dozens and detained hundreds of farmers in North Cotabato.

“The people’s right to food is one of our inalienable right, and in times of calamities such as El Nino it is the state’s role to provide immediate relief yet the local government of North Cotabato failed to provide. Worse the legitimate demand for food was met by state brutality by Kidapawan police and justice for those accountable were not yet served.” Farmer-Scientist group MASIPAG said in a statement in commemoration of the Kidapawan Massacre.

According to Leo XL Fuentes MASIPAG Mindanao’s Regional Coordinator, “El Nino is a natural phenomenon that occur between two to seven years, the 2016 El Nino was predicted as early as 2014. But the agriculture programs of the past administration apparently failed to address this. If we are going to look closely, Kidapawan and North Cotabato farmers are victims of mono-cropping of big rubber and banana plantations. Mono-cropping exposes the soil surface allowing faster transpiration rate and reducing moisture, in the context of rubber plantations the rubber tappers suffered most since there is a significant reduction of moisture there is a dramatic decrease in sap supply of rubber trees.”

“Now, that being the case when rubber trees are not productive during drought season, this will translate to hunger for those farmers that depend on tapping rubbers. One of the saddest reality in mono-cropping. It is the role of the state to interfere amidst these disasters.” Fuentes added.

The local and national agencies failed to release the 15,000 sacks of rice demanded by the farmers and keep on insinuating and maligning the people’s legitimate demand for food. The local government of North Cotabato were hell-bent in denying despite of the glaring reality of hunger among the farmers.

“Justice was still elusive for the Kidapawan Massacre victims, and the greatest injustice being done to our farmers is the continuation of failed and disastrous agricultural system of mono-cropping, plantation expansions that is subservient to the export-oriented and import-dependent agricultural economy. The promise of change of the current administration will remain to be a mere lip-service if we will not depart to these market-oriented agricultural system of big corporations. It is high time now as we call for justice to struggle even harder towards food, land and sustainable development.” Fuentes ended. ###

Farmer-scientist group calls for the protection of farming communities from clashes, hopes that the peace process continues

Press Release

Los Baños, Laguna – Farmer-scientist group MASIPAG (Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura) calls for the protection and respect of human rights amidst the raging war between the New People’s Army (NPA) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) after the termination of the unilateral ceasefire of both camps. Presently, government forces are now pounding on areas in Mindanao and Luzon believed to be areas where the NPAs operate after President Rodrigo Duterte announced to the AFP to intensify operations against the longest-running communist revolution in the world.

In a statement addressed to the AFP, President Duterte ordered the military to ‘go ahead, flatten hills’ prompting government forces to use fighter jets and rockets in pursuit of the armed rebels. Reports state that several bombs are dropped in province of Compostela Valley and Abra, where unfortunately is also home for hundreds of farming families and indigenous peoples. Communities are fleeing their homes for fear of their lives, classes are suspended and some seeking medical attention. Documentation coming from the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) state that one farmer gets killed every three days due to heightened military campaigns.

“It is us who suffer the most during these intensified military operations. Bombs do not discriminate rebels from civilians, and these are being dropped in areas we live or where our livelihoods are situated. The lives of farmers, producers of our food, should not be a collateral damage in this war. Of the Filipino population we believe that it is us, the farming communities and indigenous peoples, who will greatly benefit if the clash between the military and the NPA ends” said Marlinda Indao, a Lumad woman farmer from Bukidnon and member of the Regional Management Team of MASIPAG in Mindanao.

The intensified military operations has also affected farming activities and livelihoods, thus worsening the already dismal state of our agriculture and contributing to further hunger and starvation of rural communities. The provision of programs and services being rendered by non-government organizations working closely with farming communities and indigenous peoples are also being affected. “The heightened military campaign will only make matters worse for the farmers, who are already burdened by the present problems on agriculture such as lack of land, loss of control on seeds and knowledge and dirt-cheap selling price of their produce” added Tranquilino Pillado Jr, farmer-leader in the province of Antique and Board of Trustees member of MASIPAG.

The network also reiterated its support on both the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) to continue the peace talks to finally address the root causes of armed struggle. “Every effort must be extended to deeply understand the problems besetting the nation and finally make terms on how we can all move forward. We in MASIPAG reiterate our stand that true development and genuine agrarian reform should cater the needs and aspirations of the small and resource-poor farmers and farm workers. Farmers should have free access and control over resources such as land, water, seeds and appropriate knowledge for them to produce food for the people. Lasting peace can only be met if we uplift the farmers’ lives and livelihood” said Cristino Panerio, National Coordinator of MASIPAG.

A fourth round of peace talk negotiations between the GRP and the NDF is scheduled on April 2-6 in Oslo, Norway.###

 

 

MASIPAG Supports Call to Confirm Envi Sec

MASIPAG has joined the calls for the confirmation of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, who has been staunch in her stand in protecting the environment against destructive mining operations.

MASIPAG Regional Coordinator for Mindanao, Leo XL Fuentes Jr. has been quoted in a MindaNews article expressed support, as well as the significant role of agriculture:

Leo Fuentes Jr., regional coordinator of Magsasaka at Siyentipiko Para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG), highlighted the agriculture’s role in providing potential jobs for workers who may be displaced.

“Before mining companies came to mine the communities, people used to be in farming. Agriculture can provide alternative jobs,” he said.

To read the complete article, click here.

Pacific-based alliance interviews MASIPAG

Alliance against GMOs STOP OGM Pacifique interviews Dr Chito Medina during the People’s Tribunal against Monsanto regarding GM crops in the Philippines and its impacts to lives and livelihood of Filipino farmers, health and environment. Dr. Medina is an environmental scientist who has served as MASIPAG’s National Coordinator from 2007-2016. He now works as a technical consultant to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and remains a staunch and active partner-scientist of MASIPAG.

Watch the interview here.

Holiday Greetings from MASIPAG Family!

The year 2016 has been a challenging year for MASIPAG which saw significant and necessary organizational changes, but also brought about growth, strengthened bonds and kept alive our fervor in serving the small-scale farmers in the country.

As we reflect on the lessons of 2016, and look forward with hope for 2017, we thank you, our dearest partners and friends, for being with us, and for the continued support and faith in our vision and mission.

We wish you a meaningful and joyous Yuletide holidays!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Holiday photo resized