For immediate release
April 2, 2016
Rhea A. Gamana, Member, Preparatory Committee of Anakbayan-Canada
Sarah Salise, Chairperson, Anakbayan-Toronto
Tel: 647.281.0652; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The national preparatory committee of Anakbayan-Canada strongly condemns the massacre of farmers and Lumads in Kidapawan City. In broad daylight on April 1st, the Philippine National Police (PNP) opened fire on unarmed protesters which resulted in at least two deaths, over 116 wounded, 78 illegally arrested, and 89 missing including women and children.
One of the strongest El Niño weather disturbances hit Southern Mindanao, Philippines caused severe damages and crop failure for farmers in the area. After a seven-month long wait for relief goods from the National Food Authority, more than 6,000 farmers and community members staged a camp out protest and barricaded along Cotabato-Davao Highway. While the farmers asked for the promised 15,000 sacks of rice, plus free vegetable seedlings and financial subsidies in the wake of El Niño, all they received were bullets.
This violent response by the police under the Aquino government reveals the continuing fascism in the Philippines that leaves many Filipinos landless and the farmers hungry.
“If we are for kapayapaan and we speak and fight for peace, what kind of peace are we talking about when the police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are the ones sowing terror on the basic masses? What peace are we fighting for?” asks Jesson Reyes of Migrante Youth Ontario.
“Farmers ought to eat properly since they grow our food, but the rice they produce are exported anyway. Worse, they are met with violence when they complain,” says Carlos Ayam from Montreal.
Genuine agrarian reform, or to put an end to feudalism, will be a step closer for building national industries in the country and will serve the basic needs of the Filipino people. Concurrently, this will cause the downfall of bureaucratic capitalism and will help break foreign influence over the economy.
“I feel like overseas Filipinos don’t want to think about what’s happening in the motherland, yet there are still a number of people who expresses their concerns through social media,” adds Ayam.
In Canada, police brutality and state-sanctioned violence have been fought against by our communities. Black Lives Matter chapter in Toronto have been protesting outside the city’s police headquarters after the Special Investigations Unit refused to clear an unnamed Toronto officer in the shooting death of a 45-year-old black man who lived with mental illness, Andrew Loku. Instead, Toronto police met the protesters with force, shoving them down and destroying built up tents in front of the building.
Likewise, students at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario campaign for the removal of former chief of police, Glenn De Caire from his new position as Campus Director of Security and Parking. In his term as chief, De Caire spearheaded carding, the “practice whereby police arbitrarily detain people to collect information that is retained and stored in a police database indefinitely… (which) disproportionately affects marginalized community members.”
“I found that when targets of systemic violence—people of colour, the poor, women, queer people—unite and organize they frighten a lot of powerful people. Why?” quips Tinona of Ontario.
From Canada to the Philippines, the struggle over the livelihood and safety of the people against global capitalist rule through state repression are linked. We must meet this violence forced upon us together with our unity with other social forces. We enjoin the Filipino community worldwide in demanding food for our people, not bullets. Bugas, dili bala. Riz Pas des balles.
We call on Filipino-Canadian youth to condemn the state violence against the Philippine masses. We call on Filipino youth to fight for farmers’ rights and welfare and join the struggle for genuine democracy and liberation in the Philippines.
We hold the Aquino government, Kidapawan Mayor Joseph Evangelista, Governor Emmylou “Lala” Taliño-Mendoza, and the Philippine National Police accountable for the brutal repression for the Kidapawan farmers. For many years, the Aquino landlord clan has left a bloody legacy to farmers from Mendiola Massacre, Hacienda Luisita and today, the Kidapawan Massacre.
Justice for the victims of Kidapawan massacre! Justice for the victims of police brutality! Justice for the victims of state violence!###
Thousands of farmers from the towns of North Cotabato staged a picket along the highway to demand the immediate release of rice and calamity funds after suffering five long months from drought and El Niño. (photo courtesy of Kilab Multimedia)