Farmers to Malacanang: Stop the Martial Law threats and hasten economic aid for the hungry masses

Enough of the late night Presidential trash talk

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said President Rodrigo Duterte’s address last night spewing threats of Martial Law if people would continue to violate quarantine rules are just empty threats that are meant to quell growing public discontent over the government’s dismal delivery of economic aid to sectors affected by the lockdown.

“Militarist solutions to the pandemic situation will never work. We have been saying that since Day 1 of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) and President Duterte and the IATF should have realized that by now,” says KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos. “The people urgently need food and cash aid, not more police and military  brandishing weapons at a hungry and locked down population.”

Necessary economic aid is not reaching the affected population. Public grievances over absence or lack of food relief, cash assistance, and mass testings will only escalate in the next weeks of the extended lockdown. “Dumadaing na sa sobrang gutom na ang mamamayan pero Martial Law pa rin ang panakot ng gobyerno. Ang kailangan ngayong panahon ng pandemya ay ayuda at pagkain, tulong sa kabuhayan. Matagal nang may undeclared Martial Law sa Pilipinas. The government and national affairs are practically run by military generals,” according to Ramos.

Gov’t aid not reaching millions of farmers and fisherfolk families

The peasant leader reiterated that majority of farmers and fisherfolk families have not yet received any assistance from the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). “Hindi inaabot ng tulong at ayuda ang mga magsasaka at mangingisda sa kanayunan. Whatever the DA said it has already distributed to farmers is still not enough. Mas marami ang hindi inaabot ng ayuda at nangangailangan ng kagyat na tulong,” Ramos added. “Instead of hyping urban agriculture, the DA must focus on helping millions of farmers in the provinces where the actual food production takes place.”

Farmers’ livelihood are severely affected because farm gate prices of palay, vegetables, and other crops are plummeting over the past weeks under the lockdown. In Guimba, Nueva Ecija, farm gate prices of palay dropped from Php19 to Php17.50/kilo for long grain, while current prices are at P17.50/kilo for SL8, and P18.20/kilo for 216 varieties. Palay traders said long queues in rice mills and slow transportation of newly-harvested palay from rice farms to mills caused the drop in farm gate prices. Farmers said they fear that palay prices would continue to drop in the next weeks. In La Trinidad Benguet, farmers are selling vegetable produce way below its value. At a local trading center in Barangay Wangal, carrots are sold in bulk for Php3/kilo, cabbage for Php12/kilo, and pechay for Php13/kilo. Lugi na ang mga magsasaka sa mga presyong ito pero kaysa masira at itapon lang, binebenta na lang ng palugi ang mga gulay.  

Non-operation of public transportation has also affected the movement of palay and other crops from farms to town proper and trading centers. In Leyte, no traders and buyers would go to far-flung barangays to buy harvested palay from farmers, severely affecting their economic status. “Gutom na rin ang mga magsasakang lumilikha ng pagkain pero bingi pa rin ang DA at Malakanyang,” the KMP leader concluded. ###

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