200 barricade highway in front of NFA GenSan to demand drought aid
DAVAO CITY – At least 200 protesters barricaded the highway fronting the National Food Authority in General Santos City on Monday morning, to urge the government to maximize all resources to help drought-stricken farmers, and to denounce the violent dispersal of farmers in Kidapawan City.
Ryan Lariba, spokesperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Socsksargen (South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Generel Santos), said that the protesters manned the barricade at around 10 a.m. and peacefully ended it after an hour.
“Anti-riot cops were deployed but negotiations were successful. We explained that we are only here to demand the national government to release immediate relief for the farmers who are affected by the El Niño,” Lariba said.
Lariba said the protesters lifted the barricade because they would join about 500 farmers from South Cotabato in a protest action at the regional office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Koronadal City on Monday afternoon.
“We would like to deliver a strong message that farmers and their families are already very hungry,” Lariba said.
He recognized that some local government units have provided help but he asserted that the aid has not been enough and should be supplemented by the national government.
“It is alarming that the Aquino government is still very silent and has not yet done significant to help the farmers. What is more terrifying is that they sent bullets instead of rice,” Lariba claimed.
Lariba shared that at least three trucks carrying farmers from the town of Columbio in Sultan Kudarat who were on their way to the protest in Koronadal City were held by government soldiers.
“Is this the only response that they know? Harassment instead of relief? There is really something wrong with this government,” Lariba said.
A violent dispersal by anti-riot police in Kidapawan City against barricading farmers last April 1 left at least three people dead and at least 116 farmers and policemen wounded. SFM
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