“In the first place, there should have been no protest action of this kind if the government had possessed the foresight to prepare for the El Niño phenomenon that is disastrous at a time of ongoing climate crisis.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Progressive indigenous peoples’ groups blamed the Aquino administration for its failure to give support to the drought-stricken farmers of Cotabato province, whose barricade demanding rice subsidy was brutally dispersed on April 1.
The Cordillera indigenous peasant group, Alyansa dagiti Pesante iti Taeng Kordilyera (Apit Tako), said they know well how farmers suffer from hunger during drought, as they lose crops, animals and other sources of income.
“Instead of providing the long neglected support to the peasantry which composed the majority and who till the land to ensure food, this regime just did the opposite,” says Juan Dammay, Apit Tako chairman. Apit Tako is the regional chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Cordillera.
“BS Aquino on the other hand provided perks to the various multi-national plantations in Mindanao and elsewhere,” Dammay said.
The Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (TFIP) also condemned the massacre, and said the Kidapawan protest highlighted government’s failure to support the people during the dry spell.
“In the first place, there should have been no protest action of this kind if the government had possessed the foresight to prepare for the El Niño phenomenon that is disastrous at a time of ongoing climate crisis,” said the TFIP in a statement posted on their website.
“The situation would not have escalated into a bloody tragedy if the government had admitted their lapses and heeded the call of the farmers,” said TFIP.
The TFIP said the “daring protest” of the farmers should be hailed, instead of vilified, as they said government should recognize their vital role in agricultural development. The group also said the next administration should learn from the lessons of the Kidapawan massacre.
“There is a food crisis in Mindanao and the Philippines and the farmers and indigenous peoples are in the middle of it. The current and next set of leaders of this country must face this real and urgent challenge,” said the group.