Food for the Farmers

In the Philippines, a country once known to be the main exporter of rice in the whole of Asia, is now running out of farmers. The country’s increase in population along with its industrialization is bringing a decline to both the farming and fishing industry. In addition to these, most of the younger generation is declining to join the farming industry due to the fact that the farmers are one of the most marginalized sectors in the Philippines.

A gunshot. That was all it took to take the life of one of the 3,000 farmers who demanded 15,000 sacks of rice from their local government unit in Northern Cotabato after their land experienced a drought.[1] It is quite appalling to know that the farmers who plant the food that the people eat are the ones who are starving. These people are the ones who are being taken for granted by not only the government, but also the ordinary citizens in the Philippines. It is the middlemen who get the rich – not the farmers. It is the corrupt people, like the Cojuancos, who refuse to give the farmers what is rightfully theirs. It is the media who do not highlight the real horrors that is happening to the farmers – in fear of angering those who are in power. It is us, the ordinary citizens, who refuse to acknowledge and act upon the problems that these farmers are facing.

On April 1, 2016, news about the Kidapawan Massacre emerged in the television, newspapers, and other media outlets. The capability of the government, which was being run by the Aquino administration during this time, to silence those who protest too loudly was, and still is, an alarming thought. 5,000 sacks of rice were already ready to be distributed to the hungry farmers and their families, yet it was self-interest that dominated in the minds of the local government unit that was assigned to the distribution of rice.[2] This sparked the protest from the Kidapawan farmers. This was the best choice for them – this or they let their family starve in hunger while they find other measly paying jobs in their city, which I doubt is enough to keep them going for the rest of the farming season. The protest, which started on the 30th day of March 2016, was composed of “farmers, indigenous groups, and other cause-oriented groups”.[3] According to the Philippine National Police, it was with the “guidance” of their governor that they tried to disperse the protesters, but the protesters attacked with them poles, which then led to the violent actions of the police.[4]

Another famous carnage that is familiar to many is that of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre. This massacre was, like that of the Kidapawan Massacre, a way of the government in silencing those who protested too loudly. Hacienda Luisita was then, and still is, owned by the Cojuancos. The Cojuancos, known as one of the most influential families in the Philippines, especially during the Aquino administrations, are the owners of the infamous Hacienda Luisita. The Cojuancos were helped by the Philippine government to buy Hacienda Luisita from the Spaniards with the condition that after ten years, the land would be distributed to the farmers who are working in Hacienda Luisita.[5]

In the year 1967, the Cojuancos refused to distribute the land to the farmers with the excuse that there were no tenants living in their land. Thus, there was no need for them to distribute. However, many farmers were aghast with this, because have already been working and living in the land of the Cojuancos. This caused a build-up of many negative emotions. On the day of November 16, 2004, the Hacienda Luisita Massacre ensued. [6] This was sparked by the protest of those who were refused their right to be given their land by the Cojuanco family. These protesters were met by a violent dispersal by both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police. Teargas shells, water cannons, and were used against those who protested, leading to the death of seven farmers and a number of 121 injured, including eleven children and four elderly men.[7] Up until now, there is still no justice for them. Up until now, Hacienda Luisita is still being owned by the Cojuanco family.

The hypocrisy of the Cojuanco-Aquino family is very evident in their actions towards the farmworkers in the Hacienda Luisita. Their land is still theirs and some of the farmers working underneath them earn only about Php 9.50 a day. In addition to these, the Kidapawan Massacre is also an evidence of the irony of Aquino administration’s slogan, “Kayo ang boss ko.” (You are my boss.)

What is written above is only some of the horrors that the Filipino farmers are undergoing. Instead of being the ones who are always full, they are the ones who are being starved. They are the ones who are being deprived of their rights as they work almost the whole day in order to ensure that our country and their families will have something to eat. The excessive amount of industrialization along with the ignorance of the government to their current state is driving many farmers to look for another job, which is one of the reasons of the food insecurity that is happening in the Philippines. Hopefully, society will soon realize how precious these farmers are. We should be thankful for them, instead of treating them inhumanely as they slave themselves in order to plant something in our land.

 

 

 

 

SOURCES:

“1 Killed, 13 Wounded in Farmers’ Protest in Kidapawan.” Rappler. April 02, 2016. Accessed March 04, 2017. http://www.rappler.com/nation/127852-kidapawan-farmers-protest-dispersal.

“HACIENDA LUISITA: A HISTORY OF GREED AND DECEPTION.” Realpolitik. August 16, 2013. Accessed March 04, 2017. http://realpolitiker.weebly.com/special-reports/hacienda-luisita-a-history-of-deception#sthash.EajT9VUN.dpbs.

“Php 9.50 Daily Wage Started Off Workers’ Strike 10 Yrs. Ago.” Karapatan. Accessed March 04, 2017. http://www.karapatan.org/P9.50 daily wage started off workers%E2%80%99 strike 10 yrs ago.

Makabenta, Yen. “The Kidapawan Massacre and Aquino’s Blindness to Farmers’ Plight.” The Manila Times Online. April 04, 2016. Accessed March 04, 2017. http://www.manilatimes.net/the-kidapawan-massacre-and-aquinos-blindness-to-farmers-plight/254112/.

Nakpil, Danielle. “A Filipino Farmer’s Plea: ‘Support Us, Love Us'” Rappler. June 27, 2016. Accessed March 04, 2017. http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/hunger/137769-filipino-farmer-plea-support-love-adb.

Ocampo, Satur C. “Hda. Luisita Massacre: No Justice After 10 Years.” Philstar.com. November 15, 2014. Accessed March 04, 2017. http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2014/11/15/1391859/hda.-luisita-massacre-no-justice-after-10-years.

[1] Nakpil, Danielle. A Filipino Farmer’s Plea: ‘Support Us, Love Us’. http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/hunger/137769-filipino-farmer-plea-support-love-adb (accessed March 04, 2017).

[2] Makabenta, Yen. The Kidapawan Massacre and Aquino’s Blindness to Farmers’ Plight. http://www.manilatimes.net/the-kidapawan-massacre-and-aquinos-blindness-to-farmers-plight/254112/ (accessed March 04, 2017).

[3] 1 Killed, 13 Wounded in Farmers’ Protest in Kidapawan. http://www.rappler.com/nation/127852-kidapawan-farmers-protest-dispersal (accessed March 04, 2017).

[4] Makabenta, Yen. The Kidapawan Massacre and Aquino’s Blindness to Farmers’ Plight. http://www.manilatimes.net/the-kidapawan-massacre-and-aquinos-blindness-to-farmers-plight/254112/ (accessed March 04, 2017).

 

[5] HACIENDA LUISITA: A HISTORY OF GREED AND DECEPTION. http://realpolitiker.weebly.com/special-reports/hacienda-luisita-a-history-of-deception#sthash.EajT9VUN.dpbs (accessed March 04, 2017).

[6] Ibid.

[7] Php 9.50 Daily Wage Started Off Workers’ Strike 10 Yrs. Ago. http://www.karapatan.org/P9.50 daily wage started off workers%E2%80%99 strike 10 yrs ago (accessed March 04, 2017).

About Robert Fellner

One comment

  1. Hi, I would just like to give a constructive comment. The Philippines was never one of the main rice exporters in the world. Please don’t say that because it gives people a wrong impression that something went wrong for us to become rice insufficient, when we were never there in the first place. It misleads people into demanding rice self-sufficiency because they think we had it before, and so the current situation must be because we went astray. Our geography is the main culprit for rice insufficiency, and it cannot be changed to produce enough rice ever. Rice farmers are among the richest farmers here because the same impression has made our government pursue rice self sufficiency to the detriment of all Filipinos who eat rice. Our poor use 60% of their money on food, half of this on rice because the government protects rice farmers from competition even when it leads to everyone else’s detriment, most especially the poor’s. You are for human rights so please correct that part. Other than that, I can agree with parts of your paper.

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