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Pamanggas

Farmers March for Land, Aid, and Justice

October 22, ILOILO Farmers held protest actions across the country last October 21 to voice out their call for land, aid and justice.

Together with progressive organizations led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng PIlipinas (KMP), the protest action is the culmination of the group’s October Peasant Month campaign. The protest action also commemorates the signing of Presidential Decree 27 or the land reform program of former Ferdinand Marcos.

According to Danilo Ramos, the chairperson of the KMP, PD 27 and subsequent agrarian reform programs have failed to destroy monopoly on land that has pushed farmers into extreme poverty.

According to KMP’s data, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program does not cover various lands especially those with 8% slope. The group added that the total 5.4 million hectares covered by CARP is only 44% of the total 12.4 million hectares of arable land. As of August 2021 alone, there were only a total of 2.9 million CARP beneficiaries and did not include the nearly 10.75 million farmers registered on various agrarian reform lists of the government.

Farmers from Bulacan, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija are demanding that agricultural lands, especially paddy fields, be protected against land use conversion. According to the KMP, Central Luzon, the country’s rice granary has become the hotspot for land conversions.

Farmers also called for a Php 15,000 production subsidy. According to PAMANGGAS, the pandemic has worsened their situation but they have not received adequate support from the government. The P5,000 cash assistance provided by the DA to the farmers is selective and not enough to address the production losses of the farmers.

Amihan, meanwhile, challenged those running for the presidency to address the farmers’ demands for land, aid and justice. The group challenges the candidates for presidency to lay concrete platforms that will address the decades-old call for genuine land reform, support services and production subsidies, and justice for all the victims of human rights violations.

The protest and call were joined by farmers from the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Cebu, Negros Occidental, Panay and other parts of the country./PT

The worst “Tigkiriwi” Season

“The country now has over P11 trillion in debt yet the pandemic response remains a failure.”

The worst “Tigkiriwi” Season.
EDITORIAL

Lean Season, or Tagkiriwi in Hiligaynon, runs from June to September of every year. At this time, crop production is very scarce, which leads to poor harvest. It is further worsened by typhoons, southwest monsoon, and/or low pressure. In effect it causes worsened hunger especially amongst the most vulnerable sectors who rely heavily on agriculture for sustenance – farmers, farm workers, fisherfolks, and all who are suffering poverty in the urban and rural areas.

Just recently, the northern portion of Iloilo was severely affected by the strong southwest monsoon winds that destroyed the fisherfolks’ fish pens (tangkal). The bad weather condition has caused further trouble for the fisherfolks as it prevented them from going to the deep sea for their livelihood. This has been going on for over a month now and has worsened the conditions of hunger in said fisherfolk communities.

According to PAMALAKAYA, a group of small-scale fisherfolks in Northern Iloilo, over 30 fish pens were destroyed by the strong winds and heavy rains in Barotac Viejo alone. Not to mention the damages that other towns may have also experienced.

With the worsening conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens strengthen their demand for financial aid instead of imposing lockdowns, restrictions, and implementing militaritistic methods that are of no help and only prove to violate the human rights of the community.

“This year’s Tigkiriwi Season may not end this September, as what we are usually experiencing in the past years,” said Anakpawis Partylist Panay Regional Coordinator, Cris Chavez. “Delayed in the planting of crops due to dry season and the inadequate rainfall across Panay Island, extends Tigkiriwi up until October or November,” Chavez added.

Chavez also said that Tigkiriwi is further worsened by the expensive production cost, and that the prices of the palay or unhusked rice remain very low due to the Rice Liberalization Law, while the rice itself remains expensive at Php 35-36 per kilo.

Meanwhile, farm workers are also suffering as the cost of labor remains cheap at Php 250 per day. Moreover, due to pandemic, farm workers were not able to find alternative sources of income.

“Fisherfolks, on the other hand, are not only suffering from the bad weather conditions. Fisheries laws like the 3-month fish ban and the reclamation and conversion of coastal areas for ecotourism, fish sanctuaries, and so on, limit small-scale fisherfolks from fishing freely for their livelihood,” Chavez said.

Last July of this year, PAMANGGAS conducted a dialogue with DSWD and DA, where they brought up the demands of the fisherfolks, farmers, and farm workers for financial aid and assistance for production. However, the group was told that the DSWD will not give the farmers said assistance as they are under the jurisdiction of the agriculture department. Just like the social welfare department, the DA refused to receive or acknowledge the petition of the group, and were told to go through proper channels or through the LGUs.

“According to the DA, they do not provide cash assistance as they only provide loans through SureAid program of the Rice Tariffication Law,” said PAMANGGAS. Each qualified farmer can loan up to P25,000, which they can pay in 10 years without interest, as long as the farmer is registered at the Registry Systems for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA).

“The global pandemic is a calamitous event where there is no need for the government to declare lockdowns or ECQ for them to distribute financial aid,” said Chavez. “The government has enough budget to cover aid and subsidy for its citizens, where the Php 1,000 to Php 4,000 worth of Special Assistance to Individuals in Crisis or AICS, could have been increased as the said amount is insufficient considering that the citizens suffered from lockdown for months now”, Chavez added.

“The country now has over P11 trillion in debt yet the pandemic response remains a failure,” said Chavez.

PAMANGGAS, together with Anakpawis Panay, on the other hand, said that they will continue to launch dialogues and petitions to urge the government agencies to heed their demands for the farmers, fisherfolks, and farm workers who suffer from the pandemic and the worst Tigkiriwi Season. /PT

MILITARY MEN RANSACKED HOMES, STOLE MIAGAO FARMERS’ PROPERTIES

SOUTHERN ILOILO – Bombs were planted while phones, bolos, and money were stolen from the farmers of Sitio Anoy, Cabalaunan, Miagao, Iloilo after their houses were ransacked by the 61st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army following an alleged encounter last August 1 in the boundary between Miagao town and Antique province.

The houses were owned by Jesus Fariolan Sr., Emelyn Fare, and Joemarie Pamintahon who are all residents of Cabalaunan, Miagao, Iloilo.

According to a report received by PAMANGGAS, the farmers were busy in their fields when they heard several gunshots at around 11 o’clock in the morning of August 1. After hearing the sound, the farmers immediately went to the nearby barrio for safety. The next day, the farmers returned to their fields and it was then that they saw that their houses are being ransacked by the military forces. Moreover, farmers report that their possessions, including the money intended for their production and farming tools, are being taken.

According to the farmers, one of the houses were also planted with 2 bombs. They also received threats from the military forces that they will be sued if they will complain about it.

PAMANGGAS deeply condemns this act as yet another one in a series of human rights violations perpetrated by the state forces against farmers and civilians.

“The military’s act of ransacking the farmers’ homes and stealing their possessions is a manifestation of their criminal and terrorist tendencies. This act is just an addition to the long list of human rights violations committed by the military against civilians. Last 2020, in the same sitio, the military murdered John Farochilin, a known farmer-leader in the area. This year, they continue to threaten and force farmers and civilians to act as fake surrenderees,” said Lucia Capaducio of PAMANGGAS.

PAMANGGAS urges the community to report these cases of harassment and violations perpetrated by the state forces. Moreover, they also urge the barangay and local officials to stand and fight for the rights of the people in their community. The group also calls for the military to leave the countryside for the safety of farmers and residents./PT

Bayan Panay Holds a Dialogue with DSWD to Discuss Financial Aid Concerns, Lobby for the P10,000 Financial Aid Bill

ILOILO CITY – Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or BAYAN Panay held a dialogue with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to continue to demand adequate financial aid from the agency. The group also expressed their dissent towards DSWD for their slow distribution of financial aid. Said dialogue happened last July 27 after the group held the SONA ng BAYAN which was done in protest against Duterte’s State of the Nation Address as well as to show the true state of the community especially during the pandemic.

In their dialogue, DSWD denied the group’s claims of their slow response to the pandemic in relation to the distribution of the P1,000 financial aid. There is said to be a P2.6 billion budget allotted for financial aid for Iloilo City and the entire province of Iloilo that is affected by the Enhanced Community Quarantine status, but a large portion of said budget remains undistributed.

BAYAN Panay continued to lobby for House Bill (HB) 9089 or the “10K Ayuda Bill” that aims to provide P10,000 financial aid to all citizens who lost their jobs during the pandemic. This campaign was registered by the DSWD as a form of petition. The group also petitioned for HB 9262 which aims to give P100 subsidy each day to all workers as a form of support for their daily needs. While the dialogue occurred, the Paghugpong sang Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras (PAMANGGAS) also registered a similar petition to the Department of Agriculture.

According to Cong. Carlos Zarate, representative of Bayan Muna Party-list, the Duterte administration’s loans that has amounted to trillions are all in vain as they aren’t used to curb the pandemic and are instead being wasted on projects that do not benefit the community such as the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. Zarate adds that the P100 daily subsidy would be adequate enough to sustain their daily needs especially for those with low wages. Zarate also emphasizes that the government is responsible for failing to control the increase in the prices of basic goods and commodities in the country.

In an official statement by BAYAN Panay, spokesperson Bryan Bosque said that Duterte is responsible for the crisis that the country is currently facing. According to them, Duterte intentionally turned a blind eye on the needs of the people during the pandemic. Bosque added that the country does not have a future ahead of it under the government’s tyrannical rule and that there is no other solution but to oust Duterte and to ensure that they are persecuted for their crimes against the people./PT

DUTERTE’S FINAL SONA, GREETED BY PROTEST ACTIONS IN PANAY DESPITE RAINFALL, ECQ STATUS

ILOILO CITY – Together with President Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 26, 2021, thousands marched and protested all around the world under a unified call to #DuterteWakasanNa (End Duterte Now!).
In the international, progressive groups led by Migrante and ILPS protested in Washington, Texas, Los Angeles, San Diego, and New York in the USA, Toronto in Canada, and Hongkong.
Thousands have also protested in different regions in the country. Despite threats of COVID-19 pandemic and the intimidation of the state forces, protesters still pushed through with their activity and marched in Metro Manila, Bicol Region, Cebu City, Bacolod City, and Davao City.
In Panay, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Panay together with other progressive organizations staged a decentralized protests in Iloilo City, Northern Iloilo, Kalibo in Aklan, and Roxas City in Capiz, despite intermittent rain showers, being under ECQ status, and threats of the state forces.
Iloilo City protesters called for 10,000 pesos subsidy to those affected by the pandemic lockdown, additional budget and improvement of healthcare system in the country, safe resumption of face-to-face classes, and the lifting of the ECQ status in the region. The group also called to junk the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, which only worsens the economic impact of the pandemic.
In Northern Iloilo, farmers and fisherfolks under Paghugpong sang Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras (PAMANGGAS) also called for cash subsidy to those not only affected by the pandemic lockdown but also to those greatly affected by the Southwest Monsoon or Habagat. Fisherfolks said that they have been dislocated from their livelihood for almost a month now as they cannot go to the sea to fish due to large waves. Peasant group further called for genuine agrarian reform, to defend West Philippine Sea, and to junk the Rice Liberalization Law as well as the Anti-Terrorism Law.
Moreover, Aklan protesters led by BAYAN-Aklan brought to their protest the call to junk the proposed bill of creating the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA) as a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC). According to Kim-Sin Tugna, BAYAN-Aklan’s Chairperson, BIDA as a GOCC would only result in the displacement of the locals and of the workers. The group also called to abolish the NTF-ELCAC and to end all forms of state sponsored harassment and red-tagging, which has just experienced by one of its members, George Calaor.
“We will exert all our efforts to frustrate the administration’s maneuvers to hold on to power and hold them accountable for their crimes against the people,” said BAYAN-Panay.
REACTION TO DUTERTE’S LAST SONA
To BAYAN-Panay, Duterte’s last SONA is just a reiteration of what he usually says, and only focused on two problems in his mind: drugs, and insurgency.
“More than 30,000 have already been killed in his drug war, and more than 400 political activists, human rights workers, farmers, workers, indigenous people, and many other mass leaders were extrajudicially killed. About 30 of these are from Panay,” said Bryan Bosque, BAYAN-Panay’s deputy spokesperson.
The group also called Duterte a liar when he said that 17,000 rebel communists have surrendered during his time when the state forces only claimed before that there were only 3,000-4,000 or less rebels left in the country. “They [state forces] are the ones that benefitted from the ‘surrenderers’,” said Bosque.
“What he boasted as ‘economic growth’ is nothing but lies,” Bosque added. The group cited IBON Foundation’s report wherein the GDP growth of the country has consistently decreased from 2016-2019, when pandemic still did not happen. From 7.1% in 2016, GDP became 6.9% in 2017, 6.3% in 2018, and 6.0% in 2019.
Bosque further added that a lot of Filipinos still suffer from severe hunger, poverty, and unemployment. Meanwhile, the group said, Duterte and his ilk prioritizes their preparation for the upcoming 2022 presidential elections, in a desperate attempt to extend its power and evade accountability for his gross neglect of the Filipino’s sovereign and democratic rights.
BAYAN-Panay was also dismayed during Duterte’s final SONA as he failed to even mention his plans of distributing assistance to those affected by the pandemic, and on how to improve the overall state of the country’s healthcare system.
The group challenged all Panayanons to unite and take inspiration in the online Tumindig movement inspired by artist Tarantadong Kalbo, and called to realize this movement offline. /PT

PANAY FISHERMEN SUE FOR HELP DURING FISH BAN

ILOILO – Food Producers are starving. This was the statement of small fisherfolks in a dialogue held at the office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Regional Office 6 on October 16, World Food Day, to present the condition they face and to demand immediate assistance.

According to small-scale fisherfolks, they are facing poverty and hunger. According to them, when typhoon Ursula struck in December 2019 and the implementation of the lockdown due to COVID-19, they lost an average of PHP 3,000 per month in their income. This is due to the high cost of fishing equipment and loans due to the effects of typhoon Ursula. According to them, the start of offseason or fishban in the Visayan Sea will increase their income lost.

According to the data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority this September, the total fisheries production in the region decreased by 0.62% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. This adds to the declining production since the last quarter of 2019 at -6.89% compared to the same quarter in 2018, based on the data released last March 2020. There is a significant decrease in production in municipal waters, which is at -16.6% in the first quarter of 2020 and -12.35% in the last quarter of 2019.

According to PAMANGGAS, it is sad that during the celebration of World Food Day, our farmers and fishermen, who are considered food security frontliners, are starving due to government’s negligence. So it is fitting to call the day of October 16 as World Hunger Day since majority of our food producers are hungry.

The group blames the agency for its lack of program to directly help small-scale fishermen.

According to BFAR, their mandate is to secure the oceans not covered by municipal waters, and only assist LGUs with their programs. LGUs should be the ones to approach small-scale fishermen as LGUs have jurisdiction over municipal waters under the law./PT

FARMERS CALL FOR INCREASE OF BUYING PRICE OF PALAY

ILOILO CITY – Farmers and netizens are now calling on social media to raise the price of palay (unhusked rice) while lowering the price of rice. The current price of palay is very cheap while the price of rice remains expensive in the market.

According to the data from the Federation of Free Farmers, the price of balhog (wet palay) is only Php11 – Php13 per kilo and the uga (dry palay) is only Php14 – Php17 per kilo. The cheapest price of rice in the market remains at Php 35 per kilo.

Netizens and consumers compared the price of palay to various items. According to Bantay Bigas Mindanao, extra rice from fastfood restaurants is even more expensive at Php20 – Php25 per pack. Other netizens posted that a kilo of aluminum, PET bottles, and even the value of a giant taro plant or badyang are more expensive compared to palay.

In a press conference, the National Food Authority clarified that they have nothing to do with the low buying prices of palay. The agency also explained that they only buy dry and clean palay at a price of Php19 per kilo based on their mandate under the Rice Liberalization Law and that their purchase is very limited because of the agency’s budget for buying palay is only Php7 billion.

CULPRITS

According to the farmer’s group PAMANGGAS, the one to blame on the issue of the low buying price of palay is the Duterte government for signing the RA 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Law and senator Cynthia Villar who is the main proponent in the senate.

According to the group, because of the RLL, the country depended on rice importation instead of strengthening the rice industry. Also under the RLL, the NFA has relinquished its mandate to ensure the country’s rice supply from the supplier to the market, and has only limited its functions as “buffer stocking”. The RLL also eliminated the regulatory powers of NFA and simply handed it over to the big traders.

The group added that in the first year of the implementation of the RLL in 2019, palay buying price decreased to Php7 per kilo in some provinces. This is contrary to Villar’s statement that the condition of the farmers will improve in the future under the said law.

RIDA PUSHED

The group called for the repeal of RA 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Law and the passage of House Bill 477 or the Rice Industry Development Act or RIDA to ensure the country’s food security.

RIDA is pushing for Php 25 billion funds for the Rice Production Socialized Credit Program to free poor farmers from the repressive rents and debts, and so they can focus on increasing their production.

A fund of Php185 billion is also being pushed for the three-year rice development program including the improvement of infrastructure and post-harvest facilities, support for farm inputs, and research and development. An additional Php310 billion is also being proposed under the bill for the NFA’s program of purchasing local palay.

The group also called to increase palay buying price to Php20 per kilo or more and to allocate Php75 billion for the purchase of palay to ensure that 20% of the overall production in the country is purchased by the government through the NFA./PT

JANIUAY FARMERS HELD PICKET – DIALOGUE ASSERTING THEIR RIGHT TO TILL

ILOILO CITY – Last February 17, 2020 60 farmers held a picket- dialogue with local officials of Janiuay asserting their right to till their land. The farmers came from the barangays of Atimonan, Aglubong, Panuran and Barasolan all under Janiuay.

The picket – dialogue was the farmers’ response to the Local Government Unit (LGU) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) plan to put an end to the traditional farming practice of kaingin in the said Barangays to make way for their project, the National Greening Program (NGP).

The farmers, meanwhile, were able to have a dialogue with the District Committee on Natural and Environmental  Resources of Januiay along with the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) and the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO).

The dialogue ended with the said committee still did not grant the farmers their wish to continue kaingin.

According to “Tatay Rogelio”, one of the farmers affected, they have already been carrying out kaingin for more than 20 years and that it has been their main source of livelihood.

He added, that due to the governments prohibition on Kaingin, his family will now go hungry and his children will not be able to go to school anymore.

According to Chris Chavez of PAMANGGAS, the LGU and DENRO are denying the farmers their livelihood and sources of food without any offer of an alternative.

Furthermore, Chavez added, that for a long time, the farmers  were performing kaingin in the mountains of Januiay and no other alternative system of farming was taught to them. But not since there is a big project involved, these farmers will just suddenly be denied their livelihood.

Moreover he added that the livelihood promoted by the DENR and the LGU through the NGP is presently useless and that it cannot feed the farmers and their families.

The National Greening Program of the DENR for the reforestation of the town of Januiay is funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)./PT

Commemoration of the 33rd year of the Mendiola Massacre

“Justice for the victims of the fascist state! Forward genuine agrarian reform now!”, farmers shout as they conduct a mass movement last January 22 to commemorate the 33rd year of the Mendiola Massacre.

Mendiola Massacre happened on January 22, 1987 where state forces gunned down protesters who were calling to forward a genuine and comprehensive land reform during the administration of Cory Aquino. This caused the death of 13 farmers and more than 50 injuries among the protesters.

A statement by Paghugpong sang mga Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras or PAMANGGAS narrates that justice remains elusive to the farmers after 33 long years. Their condition only worsened with the intensified attacks against the farmers sector that is being perpetuated by the Duterte regime, they continue.

In their statement, they also discussed the worsening condition of the economy which continues to burden farmers due to TRAIN Law and the Rice Liberalization Law that were implemented by the Duterte administration who continue to cater to the needs of oligarchs and land grabbers such as Villar.

PAMANGGAS adds that attacks on human rights have continued to intensify with the policies that Duterte has implemented such as M.O 32, E.O 70, and Martial Law in Mindanao. Over 243 farmers have been slain under the Duterte administration, while redtagging and illegal arrests of leader-activists of peasant organizations become rampant.

PAMANGGAS adds that said attacks by the state have not weakened their organization but only added to their determination to forward their rights and call for genuine land reform.

Farmers call for justice for all victims of the state, the passage of genuine agrarian reform, and the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

According to the group, the government must take seriously the call for the resumption of peace talks so as to address the root cause of the armed conflict by forwarding genuine agrarian reform, national industrialization, and other socio-economic needs of the people./PT

CRACKDOWN AGAINST FARMERS, INTENSIFIES!

ILOILO CITY — Members of the Military and Police who were not in uniform, masked, and did not introduce themselves entered the house of Herman Allesa, a peasant leader in Maasin, last November 10, 2019, 5 o’clock in the morning.

Allesa was a former Barangay Kagawad for 3 terms and Barangay Captain for 1 term in Barangay Bolo, Maasin. He was also a former treasurer of Pamanggas.

The said raid was rooted from the search warrant issued by RTC Branch 31 Assisting Judge Gemalyn Faunillo-Tarol against Allesa, who allegedly owns 45 and 38 arms.

However from the raid, a rusty grenade was found resting in the fireplace of the house.

Allesa strongly denied the grenade and condemned the operation against him.

According to Allesa, this operation is part of the attack against the critics of the administration to threaten and silence them.

IN A RELATED NEWS,

Three farmers in Cabatangan, Lambunao were arrested by the Military last November 11 in Sitio Tinagong-Dagat while hunting.

According to the relatives of the victims, they have long been intrigued by the military as supporters of the NPA, and due to the threats of the Military, they cannot freely go to their fields to farm.

The investigation whether or not the three are still in the hands of the Military, is still ongoing.

A proposed tourism project by the LGU of Lambunao will be built in Cabatangan that is why people are being displaced and that militarization in the area intensifies.

IN ANOTHER RELATED NEWS,

Masipag-Visayas strogly condemns the continuous surveillance and illegal entry of the Regional Mobile Group in their backup farm in San Dionisio last October 27 and November 7, 2019.

Police members disguised themselves as buyers of bamboo and in the second time, they were accompanied by their official, Col. Oscar, who was looking for Alias Reagan and alleged that members of the NPA are conducting their meeting in the area.

Farmers of Estancia have also reported that PTL Col. Julius Bolano redtagged the progressive groups and Partylists in an assembly of the Barangay Intelligence Network, to form an anti-insurgency group.

Bolano is the head of the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit of Capiz PPO.

Pamanggas strongly condemns the intensifying attacks against the farmers and the organizations helping the farmers.

These attacks, according to Pamanggas, must be fought against and opposed through the collective unity of the farmers./ www.panaytoday.net