Farmers and other sectors denounce Marcos' negligence amid El Niño

This article is available in Pilipino

Groups of farmers and other sectors again protested before Department of Agriculture in Quezon City on May 9 to denounce the criminal negligence of the agency and the Marcos regime to address the needs of farmers and other sectors affected by drought this El Niño season.

In the conservative record of the regime, the total amount of damage to agriculture caused by the drought is at least ₱5.9 billion. Most affected are the 276 cities and towns that the state has placed under the “state of calamity.” It has also been declared in nine provinces and the entire region of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“Farmers and fisherfolk complain about the effects of El Niño, but Marcos and the DA only offered loans, insurance and meager financial assistance. We insist on immediate and comprehensive short-term and long-term relief and rehabilitation from the government,” according to Ka Cathy Estavillo, general secretary of the Amihan farmers’ women’s group and spokesperson of Bantay Bigas.

Amihan says the government was aware of the possible effects of El Niño even before it hit the country but it did not promptly prepare and its response was slow. Worse, the group says, the Marcos regime implemented programs and policies that further intensified the impact of El Niño on farmers, fisherfolk and rural sectors.

These policies allegedly include the severe lack of development of irrigation systems, destruction of watersheds and forests, river and irrigation systems, lack of production support, and promotion of land-use conversion policies, mining, logging and other destructive projects.

Amihan also denounced the extra hardship on rice farmers by the foreign Rice Liberalization Law. The group says farmers went bankrupt and drowned in debt due to this policy.

Meanwhile, the Youth Action on El Niño Network urged fellow youth to strengthen support for farmers and rural sectors that are severely affected by the ineffective response of the Marcos regime to those affected by the drought. While calling for the government to be held accountable, they are now taking the lead, along with other humanitarian organizations, in conducting relief campaigns and distributing donations to affected farmers and sectors.

AB: Farmers and other sectors denounce Marcos' negligence amid El Niño