For Immediate Release
April 2, 2016
Reference: Irma Salvatierra Bajar, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, email@example.com
After experiencing hunger and crop failure caused by a seven month long drought from El Niño, 6,000 farmers and Lumad travelled to Kidapawan City, blocked the Kidapawan National Highway, and barricaded the National Food Authority to demand the distribution of 15,000 sacks of rice as food aid. They also demanded farm subsidies and that the government intervene and raise the prices of their produce.
Despite peacefully picketing for four days, combined forces of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) unleashed violence on the farmers and Lumad on April 1. The violent dispersal began when fire trucks water hosed the protesting farmers and Lumad. The PNP soon afterward shot indiscriminately into the unarmed crowd, even using high-powered M-16 rifles. Bai Ali Indayla, GABRIELA Women’s Partylist nominee and keynote speaker at GABRIELA USA’s National Congress this past March 2016, was amongst the victims fired upon.
After the shooting, 5,000 of the farmers and Lumad fled to Spottswood Methodist Center but faced further human rights violations. 200 PNP surrounded the church center and illegally detained those who sought refuge in the building. The PNP cut off electricity to the building, forbade the media from entering, and blocked access to medical care by not allowing wounded farmers and Lumad from leaving the building to go to the hospital.
“The actions of the Philippine government are utterly despicable. Instead of looking after the well-being of women, children, and their communities, President Aquino and his administration first showed their criminal neglect of the farmers and Lumad affected by the severe drought, and then they violently attacked them for simply asking for food and assistance to survive,” stated GABRIELA USA Chairperson Irma Bajar. “This tragedy exposes the state repression, fascism and violence that our kababayan face under US-backed President Aquino.”
GABRIELA USA demands that the Aquino government immediately release calamity funds and all El Niño rice subsidies. GABRIELA USA also recognizes the role the US government has played in the Kidapawan massacre; through the economic, political, and military support it has given over the years to Aquino’s fascist regime. We demand the US government stop its military aid and training with the AFP, including ending military agreements such as the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. GABRIELA USA urges community members to support long-term solutions that would solve the crisis of hunger and poverty of the farmers and Lumad via genuine land reform and national industrialization. Only then will the farmers and Lumad have dignity and the necessary livelihood to meet their basic needs, and only then will we see justice.
Bigas Hindi Bala! Rice Not Bullets!
Justice for the Victims of Kidapawan Massacre!
Assistance to Peasants and Lumad affected by drought and El Nino!
Genuine Land Reform and National Industrialization Now!