Duterte’s lockdown violates people’s right to food – Pamalakaya
Manila, Philippines – Nearing two weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte’s lockdown of Metro Manila and more than a week for Luzon, the people’s right to food is grossly violated, according to the fisherfolk group Pambansang lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya). At the commencement of the measure, it was manifested by the barring of food supplies and vendors, and now it worsened the bankruptcy of food producing sectors, primarily from Northern Luzon.
“Nang hinarang ang mga bigas, isda, at nabara ang iba pang produkto sa mga checkpoint, na nagbunga ng pagtagal ng byahe at mga dagdag na gastusin, patungo lang ito sa papaliit na suplay at papataas na presyo, na ang tatamaan ay ang mga mahihirap na sektor, noong una sa Metro Manila lang, ngayon sa buong Luzon,” Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap, Pamalakaya National Chairperson said in a press statement.
On March 17, rice traders cried foul over the barring of 30 trucks of rice from Nueva Ecija, while since day one, fish vendors from Bacoor City were unable to travel to southern cities of Metro Manila, where they usually sell their fish products.
“Nag-announce lang si DA Secretary William Dar ng food lane nang umangal na ang mga food-related sectors, pero ang makikinabang lang rito ay ang mga malalaking negosyante na may mga truck at discriminated nito ang maliliit na vendor na karaniwang nagko-commute,” he added.
Barely a week of Luzon’s lockdown, depressed farm gate prices were reported such as the cauliflower products in Ilocos Sur, from P15 to P7 per kilo, while watermelon is at P10 per kilo, and sales dropped to 1 sack per day. Farmers are now worried on how to pay their loans they used as capital for production. Today, Cordillera farmers dumped their carrot products down a ravine, as they were not able to sell their products, citing there were no buyers. Its farm gate price fell to as low as P1 per kilo last Monday.
“Ang mga ganitong pangyayari ay siguradong bunga at pinalala ng lockdown ni Duterte, at itutulak ang mahihirap sa Metro Manila at Luzon sa mas malalang kagutuman. Hindi kayang resolbahin ng food lane ang ganitong kalaking sistematikong problema, dahil integrated ang production at circulation sphere ng agricultural sector, kaya ang lockdown ay kasingkahulugan ng destabilisasyon ng produksyon at distribusyon,” he elaborated.
Small vegetable distributors has also criticized the lockdown as cargo trucks from Benguet were held up at checkpoints and were delayed to their destinations days later, and local farmers from Pangasinan were not able to haul their products, as tricycles, their usual mode of transport, were banned along highways. A similar case was carried out in Tumauini, Isabela where farmers were barred to haul their vegetable products into other areas. Worse, even deliveries of vegetable products within Metro Manila were barred by checkpoints amid the assurance of the Department of Agriculture’s unhampered movement of food and agricultural goods.
“Sapul ang parehong producer at consumer sa lockdown ni Duterte. Ang mga mahihirap na komunidad, na karaniwang tirahan ng mga manggagawang ‘no work, no pay,’ ay nananawagan na ng pagkain, gayundin ang mga naluging mga magsasaka, na hindi man lang mabili ang pangangailangan nila sa araw-araw. Malinaw rito, na ang pagkain, ay naging unaccessible, unavailable at unaffordable. Ang food security ay agarang winasak patungong halos zero sa isang araw sa mga mahihirap na pamilya,” he explained.
Pamalakaya has already joined in the food relief drive being led by the Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, for peasant and fisherfolk communities in Cagayan Valley, Bataan, Bacoor City, Cavite, and Sorsogon. They braned it as supporting the peasants, fisherfolk and other rural-based sectors who are actually the country’s “frontliners for food security.”
“Ang lockdown ni Duterte, na pinagbawalang magtrabaho ang mga mamamayan ay mismong violation sa right to food, dahil ang right to freedom of movement ng mga mahihirap ay hindi para gumimik kundi para kumita pambili ng pagkain. Kaya nga nagpilit pa ring magtrabaho ang marami para hindi magutom ang pamilya nila. Alam ng maraming mamamayan na palpak ang gubyerno pagdating sa pagtugon sa kanilang mga pangangailangan kaya marami pa rin ang gustong magtrabaho,” he slammed.
Finally, he stressed that mass violation of right to food is not a minor issue. This is the foundation of any society and an inalienable aspect of right to life and right to adequate standard of living as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This is also cited in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
“Hindi kayang lampasan ng kahit anong emergency, public health o calamity man, ang right to food. Kaya may mga ganoong deklarasyon ay para protektahan ang right to food, kaya kamangmangan na labagin ito sa proseso ng tinatawag na ‘solusyon.’ Dapat singilin si Duterte sa kagutuman ng napakaraming pamilya ng mahihirap na sektor sa Luzon at buong bansa,” he ended. ###