Today, at 10:15 in the morning, Sagip Kanayunan and Tulong Anakpawis’s relief mission was stalled at a checkpoint. The volunteers were on their way to Norzagaray for a relief operation. They secured a government-issued food pass and a letter from Baclaran Church attesting to their mission to bring humanitarian aid to the urban poor of Norzagaray.

Despite the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases food resiliency protocol, farmers and fisherfolk still struggle to transport their produce and are being prohibited from harvesting and performing other fishing and farming activities.

Since the beginning of the lockdown, these communities have received little to no aid from the local government. Peasant organizations affiliated to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) have been conducting relief operations to assist our agricultural workers. They would directly purchase fresh vegetables and fruits from farmers of San Jose Del Monte and Norzagaray. They distributed nutritious food packs to different communities and farmers as well. In addition, KMP also organizes Bagsakan online market that also help farming communities sell their vegetables.

“This is harassment, plain and simple. We have no violations. The police also can’t justify why they are refusing to release our volunteers. We are in a crisis situation. Now is not the time to prosecute activists and cause oriented groups who are engaged in humanitarian and relief efforts,” says former Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao.

Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women and Rural Women Advocates (RUWA) call for the immediate release of the volunteers. The police and local government must prioritize providing socio-economic assistance to starving workers and agricultural workers instead of hampering relief operations. We urge them to allow the volunteers to continue their relief work and to refrain from preventing the arrival of aids from peasant organizations. Instead, they must aid the regular and continuous distribution of food packs to areas that need urgent help.

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