Farmers from Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan (AMB) reported this morning that they were blocked from bringing various vegetable produce for sale to National Capital Region (NCR) markets amid the NCR-wide lockdown.
Farmers particularly from San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan regularly bring their produce to markets in Quezon City. They were however blocked this morning at checkpoints set up for containing the COVID-19 spread. The farmers fear that if this blockade of goods continue throughout the month-long lockdown, they are to face hunger and indebtedness on top of a public health crisis. They estimate to incur at least Php32,000 worth of income losses for the entire duration of the lockdown or “community quarantine.” Blocking or restraining the entry of food to NCR will also affect its supply and prices, possibly pushing more families into hunger and panic.
Several government agencies have earlier assured that the transit of food and other necessary goods, and for employment and livelihood are exempted from the lockdown. Its first two days of implementation however are marked by irregularities, disorder, and risks. President Duterte is also expected to announce further stricter lockdown rules in a speech tonight.
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas demands that farmers’ and agricultural produce from various provinces around the NCR be assured entry. Aside from protecting the livelihood of farmers, the entry of basic goods such as food is necessary in ensuring the health of the Metro Manila populace. More than ensuring access to markets, the government can also provide free transport for farmers’ produce. This will ensure the livelihood of thousands of farmers, ease traffic congestion along borders, and lower the price of much needed food for millions.
The situation arose after Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s callous remarks yesterday that “nobody dies from hunger.” KMP noted that food riots have also sprung in the locked-down Hubei province of China after several weeks of government-controlled food supply. ###
(Photo from Bagsakan Mobile Farmer’s Market last December 2019)