Filipino farmers are now in "deep debt" following the devastation caused by Typhoon Maring while still coping from the combined impacts of the African Swine Fer (ASF), depressed palay prices, and skyrocketing cost of farm inputs.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said this situation has forced some of their members to plan for a nationwide protest demanding land, aid, and justice for farmers.
“It is harvest season this month but farmers are almost left with nothing – their crops were destroyed and washed out in the recent flooding, their backyard hogs were culled due to ASF, they are deep in debt as a result of depressed palay prices and skyrocketing costs of farm inputs particularly fertilizer,” said KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos.
“Worse, farmers are always at threat of being evicted from their farms. Intense militarization and state-sponsored human rights abuses make their situation almost unbearable,” he claimed.
KMP’s nationwide protest will take place within the week to demand urgent aid from the government amid successive calamities that have weighed down on the livelihood of poor peasants, fisherfolks, and sectors engaged in farming and food production.
The group is mounting protests in Manila, urban centers, and provinces nationwide to highlight the most pressing issues and demands of farmers. The nationally coordinated protests will take place in time for the culmination of October Peasant Month. Farmers annually mark October 21 as a Day of Action to demand genuine land reform and social justice.
Historically, it was on that date in 1972 that the then Marcos dictatorship decreed PD 27, or the emancipation of tenants from the bondage of soil. However, almost half a century later, farmers remain landless and impoverished.
Farmers, according to KMP, are pressing the demand for immediate aid – a P15,000 production subsidy amid the severe damages wrought by Severe Tropical Storm Maring on the agriculture and fisheries sectors, now at more than P2 billion.
The cumulative effects of high fertilizer prices and steadily rising oil prices have heavily impacted the production and living costs of the farmers too, said KMP.
The farmer-led protests for land, aid, and justice across the country will serve as a send-off to President Rodrigo Duterte “who rejected the farmers’ demand for genuine land reform and free land distribution.”
The group said that their mass action will also be a challenge to all presidential aspirants to heed the demands of farmers and rural sectors who comprise the majority of the population. The farmer’s group said they will present to aspiring presidential candidates the most urgent demand of farmers.
“At this point, farmers’ demand for land tenure security, support service, and significant production subsidies to help boost food and agricultural production remain valid. Candidates must present their stance on their issues. We have yet to know the platforms of candidates for the agriculture sector and how they can alleviate the state of Filipino farmers,” it added.