Aid, not imports and loans
PROGRESSIVE PEASANT ORGANIZATIONS demanded the US-Duterte regime this October to immediately end rice importation and provide palay farmers with necessary aid. They called for revocation of the Rice Liberalization Law or RA 11203 which burdened farmers further. They said that machines and research will be of no use if rice farmers are already dead.
In Metro Manila, a series of mass actions were mounted in conjuction with the World Food Day last October 16.
Demonstrations were also held in Cabanatuan City and San Jose City in Central Luzon. Farmers lambasted Sen. Cynthia Villar who is the main proponent of the said law. The Villar family is among those who have long been benefiting from use-conversion of farmlands into housing projects.
In Bicol, farmers organized the regional chapter of the Bantay Bigas alliance. Demonstrations were also held in Legazpi City, Albay. Aside from calling for an increase in palay prices, coconut farmers also demanded a stop to using fraudulent weighing scales. They likewise condemned the AFP’s militarization and violence in farming communities.
Farmers reap benefits
Cordillera farmers reaped several benefits in the form of aid from their arduous struggle in the past months.
Last May, 3,000 farmers in Abra demanded the release of funds by the local government as aid for drought victims. In the town of Malibcong, farmers were able to demand the local government to provide them with 12 hand tractors using the fund from tobacco excise taxes, and 50 cavans of rice from the town’s calamity funds. In the succeeding assembly of representatives of peasant organizations last June, farmers likewise demanded the local government to release rice subsidies from its P4.5-billion calamity fund. Abra is among the provinces most adversely affected by drought in Cordillera, wherein 70,000-80,000 hectares of lowland and upland farms were devastated.