Now on their second week of protest camp-out at Mendiola, some 200 farmers and fisherfolks from Caraga region are awaiting President Duterte’s response to their issues and demands. “Hindi kami uuwi hangga’t hindi kami kinakausap ni Pangulong Duterte.

 

“It would only take a few minutes of his time to see us here at Mendiola and hear our concerns. Farmers, indigenous peoples and national minorities are coming to the National Capital Region because our long-standing demands for land, livelihood and peace in our communities were neglected by President Duterte,” said Roger Montero, chairperson of KMP-Caraga. Malacanang cannot continue to give us the cold-shoulder.”

 

“While President Duterte keeps himself busy plotting to intensify hot pursuit operations of so-called ISIS militants and getting the help of Malaysia and Indonesian governments, we are here with our pleas falling into deaf ears,” the KMP leader said.

 

“Our just demand is for the government to address the extreme poverty of farmers and fisherfolks in Caraga. Our condition was worsened by land grabbing of foreign mining operations and plantations and the government’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan,” the peasant leader said.

 

“National Irrigation Administration (NIA) chief Ricardo Visaya refused to face farmers demanding free irrigation. The Department of Agriculture and Department of Environment and Natural Resources have yet to respond to our request for dialogues. We are awaiting important decisions on land cases and concerns of agrarian reform beneficiaries from the Department of Agrarian Reform. We will hold a dialogue with the Philippine Coconut Authority on the plight of Caraga coconut farmers this week. Hindi kami aalis sa Mendiola hangga’t walang makabuluhang tugon ang gobyerno sa aming mga panawagan,” Montero said.

 

“Also among our main demands is the halting of the militarization operations in Caraga. Seven full battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and thousands more paramilitary are deployed in the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur. Farmers always fear for their lives because of house-to-house visits by the military, checkpoints and red-tagging of peasant leaders and activists which intensified since the Martial Law declaration in Mindanao,” the peasant leader said.

 

Since August 23, Caraga farmers have set-up camp at Mendiola, near Malacanang Palace, as part of efforts to raise to the President their most urgent issues. The farmers are holding daily protest programs and noise barrage in Mendiola.”

 

Since August 31, at least 2,600 national minorities from different indigenous people tribes and Moro communities are in UP Diliman for the annual Sandugo Movement of Moro and National Minority of Self-Determination. ###