Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Food Not Bullets: Hunger Pangs of Starving Farmers Met by a Barrage of Bullets

Climate
Food Not Bullets: Hunger Pangs of Starving Farmers Met by a Barrage of Bullets

On the morning of April 1 police forces opened fire at some 5,000 farmers and indigenous Lumad demanding relief and subsidies for farm communities who have been intensely affected by the El Niño dry spell in Kidapawan City in the Philippines.

Some 5,000 farmers and tribal people have blocked a major highway in the southern Philippine province of Cotabato in a standoff to demand food and immediate relief from the effects of drought brought about by the El Nino phenomenon. Photo credit: Pinoy Weekly

350 Pilipinas condemns the violent dispersal of protesting farmers, which has resulted in the death of three and 87 missing, by the combined forces of the police and army in Kidapawan province of North Cotabato.

Around 5,000 farmers and indigenous peoples held a human barricade at the local National Food Authority (NFA) since March 30 to demand the immediate release of 15,000 sacks of rice to alleviate hunger brought about by crop failures due to three long months of drought.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) together with the peasant party-list group Anakpawis and other sectoral organizations staged an indignation protest in front of the National Office of the Department of Agriculture in Quezon City to condemn the violent dispersal holding the Aquino administration accountable for this heinous crime. Photo credit: Leon Dulce

Gov. Emmylou Mendoza refused to engage the protesters in a dialogue because prior notice and appointment from the farmers were not made. Instead of heeding the legitimate calls of the starving farmers, protesters faced a hail of bullets from the armed police and soldiers. After the bloody dispersal, thousands of farmers seeking refuge at the United Methodist Church were then surrounded by police forces.

Fully armed security forces charges to disperse the protesting farmers. Photo credit: Kilab Multimedia

The conditions that prompted the 3-day blockade gives us a glimpse of what’s ahead if decisive and just actions in addressing climate change, remains in the periphery. The blockade was warranted by the lack of government support for rural communities experiencing the brunt of the prolonged dry spell caused by the El Niño, which as of February, has affected 237,000 hectares of agricultural land. It is interesting to note that the dry spell coincides with the recent scientific findings that this February was the hottest in recorded history. We know that climate change is having an intensifying effect on this El Niño. There is also emerging research that shows climate change is likely to increase the frequency of severe El Niño.

The government’s policy of systematic land grabbing combined with the intensified El Niño pushed our farmers and indigenous peoples to heighten their struggles with sweat and blood in defense of their right to land and life. Our farmers—the country’s food producers—are battered the hardest and are left in poverty and hunger. Civil disobedience will continue to escalate until the government stops playing deaf and blind to the genuine cry of the people.

Hunger, unrest and the climate crisis—this is why decisive action and climate justice are imperative.

People are flooding social media with #BigasHindiBala (food not bullets) in outrage and as a sign of solidarity to the farmers.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

7 Must-See Eco Docs at One of the Best Film Festivals in America

5 Million Nigerians Oppose Monsanto’s Plans to Introduce GMO Cotton and Corn

Is Bill Gates Right About GMOs?

Big Food Says They Will Label GMOs … But Is There More to the Story?

David Attenborough narrates "The Year Earth Changed," premiering globally April 16 on Apple TV+. Apple

Next week marks the second Earth Day of the coronavirus pandemic. While a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions has limited our ability to explore the natural world and gather with others for its defense, it is still possible to experience the wonder and inspiration from the safety of your home.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Michael Svoboda

For April's bookshelf we take a cue from Earth Day and step back to look at the bigger picture. It wasn't climate change that motivated people to attend the teach-ins and protests that marked that first observance in 1970; it was pollution, the destruction of wild lands and habitats, and the consequent deaths of species.

Read More Show Less
Trending
An Amazon.com Inc. worker walks past a row of vans outside a distribution facility on Feb. 2, 2021 in Hawthorne, California. PATRICK T. FALLON / AFP via Getty Images

Over the past year, Amazon has significantly expanded its warehouses in Southern California, employing residents in communities that have suffered from high unemployment rates, The Guardian reports. But a new report shows the negative environmental impacts of the boom, highlighting its impact on low-income communities of color across Southern California.

Read More Show Less
Xiulin Ruan, a Purdue University professor of mechanical engineering, holds up his lab's sample of the whitest paint on record. Purdue University / Jared Pike

Scientists at the University of Purdue have developed the whitest and coolest paint on record.

Read More Show Less

Less than three years after California governor Jerry Brown said the state would launch "our own damn satellite" to track pollution in the face of the Trump administration's climate denial, California, NASA, and a constellation of private companies, nonprofits, and foundations are teaming up to do just that.

Read More Show Less