“IRRI failed to improve the lives of the farmers and end rural hunger as it had boasted. Worse, it has facilitated landgrabs, trapped farmers into debt bondage, and has dipped rice farmers’ income as its corporate funders have been profiting off farmers’ demise.” Mallari added.
The PCFS official vented her concern on the spate of massacres happening in Negros province, especially since Duterte declared it with two other provinces in a state of lawless violence under Memorandum Order No. 32. She said the island of Negros is known as the hacienda-capital in the Philippines as it is home to the largest landholdings still owned by landlords and to a large concentration of landless farmers. Similar massacres committed by military took place in Sagay City, Negros Occidental and Guihulngan, Negros Oriental, killing nine in October and six in December last year respectively. All victims were farmers actively campaigning on local issues.
The groups are holding various activities to highlight the rural people’s land struggles on March 29, which they proclaimed as the “Day of the Landless.” The Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP), and People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) are leading the global day of action under the theme“Reclaim Our Lands, Reclaim Our Future.” Solidarity actions are being organized in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Jordan, Palestine, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Zambia.
“Biofortification is a business strategy, not a solution to global malnutrition. It is not that staple foods in developing nations are deficient of nutrients; rather, TNCs have kept the income of rural peoples too low through price cartels and monopoly control of food production and distribution,” Mallari said.
The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) is highlighting farmers killings and attacks against rural peoples and rights defenders in its ‘global day of action’ to commemorate the occasion. The theme is ‘Stop Killing Farmers! End Impunity Now!’
“If anything, Duterte’s pet project will only ‘build, build, build’ foreign debt for the Philippines. The billions-worth of Chinese aid and loans are investments to profit from – unfortunately, at the expense of the communities,” said the PCFS official.