Manila, Philippines – To mark the United Nations World Food Day, the Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women and rice watch group Bantay Bigas held their “#WorldHungerDay” noise barrage and human chain protest in along EDSA in front of the Mega Q-Mart in Quezon City, to demand from the Duterte government to support local production and stop its import liberalization on agricultural products primarily rice, fish, vegetables and pork.  The groups said that these policies failed with promises of cheaper prices, instead only triggered the bankruptcy of the country’s local producers.  They then challenged candidates for national positions to make it part of their agenda, the concrete solutions to the chronic crisis in the food and agriculture sector, which should be based on self-sufficiency and self-reliance. 

“World food day ngayon pero maraming walang makain, pati na rin ang lumilikha ng pagkain. Nangangalampag kami para labanan ang importasyon ng bigas, isda, gulay, karne, at iba pa at paunlarin ang lokal na produksyon. Hinahamon namin ang mga tatakbo sa eleksyon na kung manalo man, gumawa ng mga batas at patakaran para sa kapakanan ng mga magsasaka at mahihirap na konsyumer. Magiging mapagbantay kami sapagkat karamihan sa mga tatakbo ay mula pa rin sa mga mayayaman, burukrata kapitalista, at panginoong maylupa,” Cathy Estavillo, Secretary-general of Amihan said. 

The groups said that Duterte should be held accountable for signing the anti-farmers policies such as Republic Act 11203 Rice Liberalization Law, Executive Order No. 134 and 135 , all for reducing tariffs and influx of of imported rice and pork, and that these laws and issuances should be all repealed or revoked.

Particularly on the effect of the Rice Liberalization Law, the rice farmers decried depressed farm gate prices of palay from P9 per kilogram in Iloilo and P10 in Occidental Mindoro, while they are P14 in other provinces.  Moreover, retail prices of rice are at P38 to 44 per kilogram in Metro Manila, far costly from the National Food Authority-era prices of P27 and P32 per kilogram.  The present range of prices are costly to minimum wage earning families or poor consumers, especially when the Duterte government imposed repeated lockdowns causing job interruptions and losses of sources of livelihood.

The groups also joined the “World Hunger Day Global Action for just, equitable, healthy, and sustainable food systems and not global corporate food empire” led by the international group People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty (PCFS). 

“The Duterte regime clearly failed in its agricultural productivity and food-on-the-table agenda, thus, we are challenging national candidates who claim to offer reforms to sincerely assure the attainment of self-sufficiency and food security in the country, for the benefit of Filipino farmers and poor consumers,” Estavillo ended. ###

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