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Legarda Seeks Climate Justice for Kidapawan Farmers After Violent Dispersal

April 5, 2016

Senator Loren Legarda today called for climate justice for the victims of the violent dispersal of farmers’ protest action in Kidapawan City, which claimed the lives of at least three farmers and wounded several others.

“I condemn in the strongest terms this act against the farmers of Mindanao. A thorough investigation on the incident and the events that led to the protest must be undertaken. We seek climate justice for the farmers and other victims of the bloody dispersal because at the root of this incident is the climate-related drought that has affected the lives and livelihood of many farming communities,” said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change.

Legarda, who also chairs the Committee on Finance, added, “El Niño had been happening since last year. Agencies at the forefront, especially the Department of Agriculture, said programs to counter the effects of El Niño on the agriculture sector have been adopted. An inter-agency El Niño Task Force was created. What happened to these programs and how were the budget allocations used?”

According to reports, 6,000 farmers from different parts of North Cotabato protested in front of the National Food Authority (NFA) in Kidapawan starting March 30. They were demanding food aid from the provincial government as their farms were greatly affected by the drought caused by El Niño. The violent dispersal occurred on the third day of the protest, April 1. Both sides claim it was the other party that provoked the bloody incident.

“We must know the truth in this incident. But more than the violent dispersal is the underlying cause of the protest. This would not happen if necessary interventions were done to address the impact of El Niño on farmers and communities,” said Legarda.

“That is why the government can no longer deny the link between climate change and development. What we saw is just one of the human faces of climate change and our farmers, who did not cause this phenomenon, is among the direct victims of its impacts,” she added.

A long-time environmental warrior and author of landmark environmental laws in the Philippines, Legarda urged the DA and other departments for an accounting on how funds for climate change programs are being spent. “There should be an urgent sense of planning on how we disburse funds for sustainable livelihood. Calamity fund for agriculture is supposed to be given to farmers for free,” said Legarda.