April 11, 2016
“Stop making excuses, stop deceiving the people. No one is buying your lies. The starving farmers need concrete actions that will truly address the drought which is wreaking havoc to the agriculture sector and to the lives of peasant families,” said Amihan national chairperson Zen Soriano in a protest today led by the National Federation of Peasant Women in front of the Department of Agriculture national office in Quezon City.
“More than a week has past but all we have heard were the washing of hands of the officials and agencies involved, victim-blaming, and their utter lies that the government’s drought mitigation program was a success,” added Soriano.
The militant group said that billions of pesos were allotted to address El Niño including the P19B from the Department of Budget and Management and P38.9B calamity fund handed over to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund for 2016 but there were no specific details on programs and fund allocations.
The group expressed doubt on how the budget is spent especially that it is the election season, saying that DA has been involved in corruption – Fertilizer Fund Scam and the Napoles NGOs just to name a few.
“If the government sincerely prepared for El Niño, it should have created more productive and accurate programs than cloud seeding and develop a sustainable agriculture and appropriate technologies and should have appropriated the funds properly; then the bloody tragedy should have been prevented,” added Soriano.
The group assailed the statement of the president on the incident saying that it is insulting for the dying farmers to hear the president say that he was not informed after being silent over the incident for a week.
“It is outrageous that the president spoke only of his ill health and his busy schedule while his ‘bosses’ are already dying of hunger due to the government’s continuing criminal negligence. We do not deserve such an incompetent and irresponsible president,” said Soriano.
“Aquino’s statement underscores his accountability on the massacre. His shameless inaction shows tolerance of the hunger and murder suffered by the farmers,” added Soriano.
The group also reiterated the following demands:
1. The release of 15,000 sacks of rice as calamity assistance and subsidy of rice, seedlings, fertilizers, and pesticides until the drought ends.
2. Investigate and prosecute Pres. Benigno Aquino and Sec. Proceso Alcala for their negligence and failure to put up appropriate measures to mitigate the effects of the El Nino Phenomenon, and in providing assistance to those affected.
3. Investigate and prosecute Pres. Benigno Aquino, the Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin, the Commanding General of the Philippine Army Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año, PNP Director General Ricardo Marquez, Gov. Mendoza, and the different police and military officers of the different police and military units operating in Central Mindanao for their participation and complicity in the violent dispersal of the farmers on April 1, 2016, the various human rights violation committed as a result thereof, and other violations committed thereafter.
4. Immediate release of all farmers specially the old women and pregnant women detained for their participation in the barricades;
5. The pullout of military troops in their communities.
“Our fellow peasant women together with the Filipinos will hold the haciendero administration accountable for its criminal negligence in the Kidapawan massacre. We will not stop until justice is served to the Kidapawan farmers,” Soriano ended.