We, detained peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and other political prisoners here in Camp Bagong Diwa, strongly condemn the brutal assaults, killings, other acts of violence and gross violations of human rights committed by reactionary police forces against the hungry peasants and lumad, who, since March 30, have massed at the Kidapawan City center in North Cotabato to seek urgent hunger and disaster relief.
The fascism that has just been taking place is no different from what had been taking place during the outright martial law of the Marcos regime.
Those hungry peasants and lumad are indeed victims of the long dry spell caused by the El Niño that dried up their farms. But they are are also victims of gross negligence of the ruling national government of Benigno S. Aquino III and the local government of North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza in even just monitoring the dire situation of the suffering peasants and lumad, much less looking after the victims, and rendering them immediate and long-term relief.
Those peasants and lumad, who have been suffering already about a billion pesos worth of destruction of their farms, are fully aware that many billions of pesos in the form of cash and in the form of stocked rice have long been in the hands of the ruling powers, supposedly for food security and support to victims of disasters and hunger as in the cases of those peasants and lumad.
Those peasants and lumad merely asked for immediate relief… at least for rice, so that they may have something to eat in the face of the disaster and their hunger.
But the ruling powers and their police forces unleashed on the rallying hungry peasants and lumad, bullets, beatings and deaths… instead of the rice these victims of disaster and hunger were rallying and asking for.
Two of the rallyists immediately died from gunshots, another died later, and 116 more have suffered bullet wounds, violent beatings and detention in the hands of the fascist police forces.
The rest had to seek safety in a nearby Methodist Church compound. Still, the fascist police forces continued with their hostile reaction by conducting saturation drives and continuing fascist harassment, even where the rallying peasants and lumad had sought immediate sanctuary from the fascist response to their pleas for food.
The violent fascist reaction against the rally of the peasants and lumads to merely ask for rice also affected journalists covering the event, as one news reporter was hit and wounded, while another was arrested — and only released after he was later confirmed to be a news reporter.
Instead of rectifying the fascist treatment rendered to the rallying hungry peasants and lumad, the reactionary national and local governments and their police forces have gone to the extent of distorting the reports and inventing ridiculous stories about the rallyists as being the ones who had guns and who had been shooting at the dispersal forces, and that it is actually the New People’s Army that was organizing the rally. The fascist police forces even absurdly brought to jail and charged with criminal cases a number of rallyists, including pregnant women and elderlies.
Even rice and other humanitarian assistance, immediately to be given to the rallyists, have been blocked by the fascist police forces.
The Filipino people know full well that the reactionary national and local governments and police forces have only been viciously seeking to shift to others the blame for their indifference and negligence in the face of the widespread disaster and hunger among the masses of peasants and lumad, and the blame for the violence that took place in the Kidapawan rally.
The fascist and violent treatment these suffering peasants and lumad have been undergoing are no different from the fascism and violence rendered to other lumad communities, including the killing of lumad educators and school personnel in the Alternative Learning Center for Livelihood and Development (ALCADEV) and harassment of surrounding lumad communities in Tandag City in September, 2015, and the eventual total burning down of the ALCADEV compound last November; the continued harassment of lumad refugees from Surigao del Sur who had to seek protection in the Haran compound of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) in Davao del Norte in March last year, and the continued application of fascist pressures early this year to force the lumad refugees to return to their harassed communities.
Many of the sympathetic people in our country are no longer waiting for the reactionary national and local governments to give support to the hungry peasants and lumads who rallied to ask for food. Aside from progressive mass organizations like Kilusang Mayo Uno, many workers’ unions and other people’s organizations, progressive legislators like Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares; and many sympathetic actors and actresses, like Robin Padilla, Anne Curtis, Jasmine Curtis, Angel Locsin, Daniel Padilla, Bianca Gonzales-Intal , the entire crew of “Radyo ni Juan”, and many residents in neigboring Davao have immediately sent truckloads of rice and generous amounts of cash in response to the cry for food by the hungry peasants and lumad in Kidapawan, and to make up for the mere excuses and actual lack of sympathy and response by the reactionary national and local governments.
More celebrities, including Nora Aunor, Aiza Seguerra, Liza Diño-Seguerra, Seb Castro and Binibining Pilipinas Beauty Queen Carlene Aguilar and the Browman Revival musicians also voiced out strong condemnations against the fascist cruelties applied against the hungry peasants and lumads who simply rallied to ask for food. “Bigas, hindi bala” has also now become a popular internet hash tag.
We, political prisoners, are also sending our support, not only in spirit, but also in material form — in the form of a part of the sale of our art works and handicrafts — for even a little such can contribute to help the suffering hungry peasants and lumads.
Detained NDFP Peace Consultants
Ma. Loida Magpatoc
and other political prisoners
in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City
Hermogenes Reyes, Jr.
Isidro de Lima
Jesus Abetria, Jr.
Ma. Miradel Torres
(April 8, 2016)