Police and army forces shot at about 6,000 starving farmers and Lumad Indigenous people demonstrating for drought relief in the Philippines on Friday, ultimately killing 10. Observers characterized the security forces’ action as “a strafing.”
“The government’s response to hunger is violence,” said Zeph Repollo, Southeast Asia campaign coordinator for 350.org, in an email to Common Dreams.
Three protesters were immediately killed, and by Monday the death toll had risen to 10 as more demonstrators succumbed to injuries.
“We don’t have anything to eat or harvest. Our plants wilted. Even our water has dried up.”
—Noralyn Laus, demonstrating farmer
The farmers and Indigenous people had been blockading a highway in the Cotabato province for four days in a desperate plea for government aid, after this winter’s record-breaking temperatures produced a three-months-long drought that has destroyed their crops and now threatens their lives.
The demonstrators were asking the government to provide 15,000 sacks of rice to ease the hunger crisis. Provincial governor Emmylou Mendoza has refused to engage the protesters.
“The government’s policy of systematic land grabbing combined with the intensified El Nino pushed our farmers and indigenous peoples to heighten their struggles with sweat and blood in defense of their right to land and life,” wrote Repollo in a statement.
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