Farmers set march for rights, food, coco levy
FARMERS will hold an eight-day march from Quezon province to Quezon City starting today (Tuesday) to raise awareness of their issues with land rights, agrarian reform, food security and the coco levy fund.
Buhay na May Dignidad Para sa Lahat (Dignidad), a multisectoral coalition of civil society groups, announced the march in a press conference Monday and pledged support for the farmers’ march from Sariaya, Quezon, to the Department of Agrarian Reform compound in Quezon City.
In a statement, Dignidad warned law enforcers against dispersing the marchers violently like what happened to protesting farmers who blocked a highway in Kidapawan City on April 1.
“We warn the police and other state forces not to use similar force on our ranks. We are taking to the streets to exercise our valid rights, raise legitimate issues and highlight the suffering experienced by thousands of farmers in the wake of El Niño and climate change. We are compelled to bring to the attention of our neglectful government the dire situation in the provinces,” said farmer Trining Domingo, chair of Katipunan ng Bagong Pilipina.
Dignidad spokesperson Rene Ofreneo, chair of the Integrated Rural Development Foundation, expressed Dignidad’s support for the farmers’ demand of the immediate return of the P200-billion coco levy fund to the tillers.
“Many of the original contributors to the fund are now old, sick and dying. To this day, they have not received any of the benefits from their own money that had been promised them,” Ofreneo said.
Jojo Clavo of Katarungan said over P76 billion of the fund that had been recovered was “still unutilized due to the failure of Congress to legislate the proposed Coconut Levy Trust Fund Bill” and because of a Supreme Court temporary restraining order on executive orders by President Aquino “which could have benefited the farmers.”