Protesting farmers head back home in North Cotabato after getting rice donations
DAVAO CITY – The protesting farmers in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato have started to return to their homes, bringing with with them their share of the rice donated by artists, concerned groups and individuals.
Jerry Alborme, leader of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-North Cotabato, said the farmers have initially received at least 1,253 sacks of rice, medicines and canned goods from private donors, artists, students, religious institutions and ordinary residents.
“Hundreds are now going back to their villages by batches. We have initially distributed at least 25 kilos each but we have given priority to the families of those killed, injured and arrested,” Alborme said.
He said they have sent sacks of rice to the families of those who were killed as their initial support for them while continuing the demand for justice.
“Many of the farmers will now go back to their areas, but some will remain here in Kidapawan City to provide support for our neighbors who are still in the detention facilities and the hospital,” Alborme said.
At least 74 farmers– 44 men and 30 women, are still detained after they were arrested in the violent dispersal last April 1.
The farmers were slapped with direct assault and physical injury charges, Alborme said.
Alborme said they were very much elated by the approval of the City Council of Davao City for the release of P31.5 million that would be used to buy 15,000 sacks of rice.
“The city government of Davao has its own mechanism for the distribution, but we are confident that this will reach the communities heavily affected by the drought,” Alborme said.
Alborme said they were aware that the aid they initially received would help them survive for a few weeks, and that making it through several months would be another story.
“Our families can survive now for a few weeks. But we are worried that the drought will continue for a few more months. We need at least four months for a regular cropping of corn. The corn will not grow without rain,” Alborme said.
Despite the flow of support from donors, Alborme said the government must meet its responsibility in providing for the needs of the farmers in this humanitarian crisis.
“The government should act now and by that we do not mean them raining us with bullets,” he said. SFM
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