No aid for locked down farmers — KMP

No vaccination, only restrictions and militarization

Iloilo City — The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said farmers in quarantined provinces will further suffer from new lockdowns and restrictions imposed by the IATF-EID and Malacanang.

In Delta variant-hit Iloilo City wherein a hard lockdown is imposed, farmers are seeking urgent aid and assistance from the local and national governments. “Mula Mayo pa naka ECQ dito sa Iloilo, kulang na kulang ang naibigay na food packs. Sa isang barangay na may daan-daang pamilya, nasa 40 food packs lang ang naibigay. Ang cash aid, mas marami talaga ang hindi nabigyan. Gutom talaga ang inaabot ng mga magsasaka at mga tao lalo na kapag may lockdown,” says PAMANGGAS-Panay peasant leader Lucia Capaducio.  PAMANGGAS is KMP’s regional chapter in Western Visayas.

She further said that farmers have no income during this period and are having a hard time with the planting season due to intermittent rainfall. Prices of farm inputs including seeds, fertilizer, and pesticides have also increased since June this year.

Kung tuloy-tuloy na sana ang ulan, baka sa September o October pa makakapag-ani ang mga magsasaka. Dahil palaging may lockdown sa Iloilo, paano naman ang kabuhayan ng mga tao? She said farming families are looking for alternative livelihoods to no avail. The majority of the country’s small rice farmers rely on rainfall during rice planting seasons of June to August.

Capaducio also expressed concerns over the LGU’s decision to deny transactions and essential services to unvaccinated individuals. During the hard lockdown period, unvaccinated individuals will also not be allowed to go outside of their residences. Kahit gusto magpabakuna ng ibang magsasaka, wala namang bakuna,” the peasant women leader said.

For its part, KMP said that widespread militarization operations in Iloilo and other provinces severely affect farmers and communities under strict quarantine restrictions. “Simula 2020, puro lockdown at pananakot ang naranasan ng mga magsasaka. Kulang o halos walang tulong at ayuda,” according to KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos.

Ramos said that military and police implementing restrictive measures and conducting Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) operations in rural barrios further add to the worries and anxieties of farmers. “Nandoon sa mga bukid at nananakot ng mga magsasaka ang mga pulis at sundalo.”

In the entire Iloilo province alone, seven towns are affected by intense militarization and human rights violations. Last August 2, AFP troops have ransacked a rice barn or kamalig a rice barn in Sitio Anoy, Barangay Cabalaunan in Miag-Ao town. Soldiers belonging to the 61st Infantry Battalion also confiscated the cellphones and money of farmers, saying such items could be used to support armed NPA fighters.

Iloilo province has 2, 425 active Covid-19 cases, 14,076 recoveries, and 429 deaths as of Aug. 1. ###  

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