Manila, Philippines – Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao expressed support to the arrival of the national caravan dubbed as “Stand with Samar,” launched by farmers belonging to the Samahan Han Gudti nga Paraguma ha Sinirangang Bisayas (Sagupa-SB), Northern Samar Small Farmers’ Association (NSSFA) and People Surge, organization of typhoon victims in the Visayas.
More than 50 farmers and from other rural-based sectors from the said region arrived in Manila, aiming to seek dialogues with appropriate government agencies, primarily with the Department of Agriculture (DA) on the impact of the bunchy-top virus outbreak on abaca crops in Northern Samar that brought the sector into an unimaginable state of poverty and hunger.
“They sought for help from the Makabayan lawmakers, thus, the filing last December of HR 1548 on the impact of the bunchy-top virus devastation of abaca crops in Northern Samar, and HR 1549 on the abuses by elements of the military against farmers and activists, on this issue, we urge congress to immediately hear these concerns, while they are here in Manila,” Casilao said in a statement.
Sagupa-SB and NSSFA also reported that aside from the bunchy-top virus devastation, coconut crops were also plagued with “coco-lisap” and rice crops with the black bug. On top of this, the farmers were yet to recover from the impact of the December 2015 typhoon Nona in the region.
Casilao said that while already bankrupt and debt-ridden, the farmers are faced with the latest issue of shortage of cheaper rice from the National Food Authority (NFA). NFA Region 8, announced on early February that its stocks were at 68,000 bags, good only for 2 days if to support the region’s population, while last week, stocks in Northern Samar were at 13,442 bags. The lawmaker filed House Resolution No. 1676 on the alleged shortage of NFA rice stock and urging for the increase in procurement of local palay, instead of importing from abroad.
“It is like the worst never ends under the Duterte government who already neglected the farmers’ plight, but is actually out in their communities, but not to help them, but to persecute them, as numerous cases of rights abuses were reported committed by elements of the military deployed in Northern Samar,” Casilao said.
HR 1549 mentioned that farmers from towns Las Navas, Palapag, Catubig, San Jorge, were usually subjected with illegal arrest and detention, assault, illegal searches of house. A teacher and her students were harassed and threatened by a drunk soldier in Las Navas town.
“While we could still remember how the people vigorously aided the victims of typhoon Yolanda, they are again calling for help, we are also appealing to the broad public for aid, as obviously, criminal government neglect did not end with the last regime, it continued until the present,” Casilao ended. ###
Salubong with #StandWithSamar Caravan, February 22, 2018, Mendiola, led by SAGUPA-SB, People Surge