With continued displacement and military operations, hunger and poverty to rise under Duterte

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said that the prolonged Martial Law in Mindanao and the intensifying military operations carried out by the military to allegedly flush out the Maute and BIFF groups have already adversely affected local agriculture, food production and the farmers. “The expanding humanitarian crisis resulting from President Duterte’s Martial Law declaration and the government’s all-out war will lead to worsening hunger and poverty especially in Mindanao. President Duterte will have to answer for that situation. His apology will not suffice. He should lift Martial Law and rebuild what he helped destroyed.” “In case Agri Secretary Emmanuel Pinol failed to notice, hunger spiked in areas affected by heavy firefights and military operations not just in Marawi City but across Mindanao,” said KMP secretary general Antonio Flores, also a Mindanaoan peasant leader. “To say that Martial Law will boost farm and agri output in Mindanao is far-fetched. Farmers cannot live and farm in peace under a Martial Law regime,” the KMP leader said. KMP lambasted Pinol for his consistent position that the Martial Law declaration is advantageous to the country’s agri sector. “We challenge Pinol to tell that to farmers who have left their homes and farms. Farmers and their families affected by airstrikes and ground operations were forced to leave their farms and farm animals which are their only source of livelihood. In fact, even before Martial Law was declared, the AFP’s intense militarization campaign has affected the rural communities particularly in areas considered by the government as ‘hotbeds of insurgency’. “There are also numerous cases wherein the military tag farmers as NPA members and supporters and subject them to harassment and other human rights abuses. In worst cases, progressive peasant leaders who are red-tagged by the military as NPA are being killed,” Flores said. As early as March this year, KMP in Southern Mindanao region warned against the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao and the bombing of communities as it would affect millions of farmers and Lumad. “Now, Martial Law is affecting all sectors, especially Moro communities, farmers and indigenous people. No one is spared by the Martial Law in Mindanao except those benefiting from it – big landlords, local and foreign businesses, and plantation owners,” said KMP-SMR leader Pedro Arnado. Based on the independent National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission (NIHM) conducted last week in by Kalinaw Mindanao in affected areas in Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Lanao del Sur and Davao del Sur, poor farmers and urban poor dwellers are the most affected by displacements resulting from the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao. “Those directly affected by the firefights and aerial bombings in Marawi City have nothing to go home to but rubble and destruction.” According to the latest data released by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), almost 65,000 families or 340,000 persons were internally displaced due to the one-month old Martial Law and the non-stop heavy fighting between AFP and terrorist Maute and BIFF groups. “Hundred of thousands of farmers, fisherfolk, Moro and Lumad have left their homes and farms to seek shelter in evacuation centers and safer places,” Flores said. “Instead of tending to their farms, small trading businesses and livelihood, Martial Law and the military operations have destroyed their lives,” the KMP leader said. The peasant group also reiterated their strong demand for the lifting of Martial Law. ###


Photo by Kilab Multimedia