Peasant women urged 2016 election candidates to address hunger, landlessness, and human rights violations
October 15, 2015
The Amihan, National Federation of Peasant Women, led a protest in front of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Quezon City and at Mendiola Bridge, Manila in celebration of World Rural Women’s Day on October 15, to challenge the 2016 election candidates to implement a genuine agrarian reform to end poverty and hunger of the Filipinos.
The militant group emphasized the importance of addressing peasant issues through the candidates’ platform especially for an agricultural country like the Philippines where farmers comprise majority of the population.
Amihan chair Zen Soriano said that the candidates should prove their sincerity in serving the interests of the peasants which the haciendero Aquino regime failed to address in more than five years of his “Daang Matuwid.”
The group cited Aquino’s sham Rice Self-Sufficiency Program headed by Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and the former Presidential Adviser on Food Security and Agriculture Modernization Francis Pangilinan now senatorial candidate under Liberal Party .
Soriano said that instead of strengthening local rice production by distributing lands to the farmers, providing production subsidy, and addressing the vulnerability of the agriculture sector to calamities, the Aquino administration resorted to rice importation which further intensified the appalling condition of rice farmers. “The dependency on rice importation reflects the insincerity of this regime to achieve rice self-sufficiency and food security,” Soriano added.
The Amihan also slammed Aquino administration’s statement on the decreased poverty incidence in the country saying that it is an insult to the millions of Filipinos suffering from poverty and hunger. According to the group, a person earning P52/day is no longer considered poor by the government. “What can you buy with just P52? Now that the prices of basic commodities and utilities have almost doubled, even P100 is not enough to live decently,” said Soriano.
“We are enraged that our families could not even afford to buy rice when we are the ones tilling the land and producing the nation’s food, while a few families of landlords, compradors, and foreign corporations are enjoying the fruits of our labor,” added Soriano.
The group said that Filipinos especially farmers would live a stable condition if they owned the land they till. The group exclaimed that the government is doing exactly the opposite. Under the haciendero regime’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP), land grabbing and displacement of peasant and indigenous people’s from their communities intensified.
Amihan cited the continuing control of the president’s clan on the 6,000 hectares Hacienda Luisita and the family of Mar Roxas grabbing the lands in Brgy. Mascap, Rodriguez, Rizal and San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan. “The persistence of landlessness and the desperate attempt of the Aquino regime to prevent the peasant masses’ demand for a genuine agrarian reform is the cause of widespread poverty and hunger,” said Soriano.
The group likewise condemned the rampant militarization in the countryside. Farmers and land reform advocates has been the consistent victims of attacks and human rights abuses under the guise of Aquino’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan. More than 200 farmers and indigenous peoples were summarily executed, trump up charges are filed against peasant leaders, and thousands of families are forced to evacuate due to military operations.
Soriano said, “Our fellow peasant women have had enough of hunger, landlessness and human rights violations. We are determined to fight for our rights to land and justice.”
The group stated that the militant peasant organizations will present the peasant electoral agenda on October 20 in UP Diliman.
References: Zen Soriano, National Chairperson 09214571904