Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/540433682806102/
On 1 April 2016, the police authorities opened fire at a demonstration of farmers in Kidapawan City, Southern Philippines.
The farmers were clamouring for food relief and calamity fund from the government due to effects of the El Nino, which has brought drought in many rural areas of the country. Instead of help and aid that were due to them, they were met with brutal violence which killed 3, injured scores, led to detentions, tortures, etc.
As a response to the Global Day of Action on the Kidapawan Massacre called on 8 April, the Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines, would like to invite everyone to a protest action at the Philippine embassy at 4.00pm, to express our solidarity and call for justice for all victims.
Open letter to the Philippine Embassy in London
5th April 2016
TO: H.E. Ambassador Enrique A. Manalo
Embassy of the Philippines, London
6-8 Suffolk Street, London SW1Y 4HG
CC: Charge d’Affaires Gilberto G.B. Asuque
Consul General Senen Mangalile
Dear Mr Ambassador:
We have all been deeply shocked by the massacre which took place at Kipadawan City on 1 April when the police and military opened fire on a demonstration of around 5000 farmers in which at least 3 protestors were killed, more than 100 people were injured and protesters put in prison.
As you may be aware, this protest was by small scale farmers whose lands have been severely hit by two years of drought caused by the effects of El Nino. Climatologists are saying that the 2015-2016 El Nino event is currently the worst on record. It is predicted that around 85% of the country will have been affected by drought by the end of April 2016, creating a desperate situation for around 12 million Filipinos whose livelihoods are drawn from agriculture and fisheries. A recent memorandum by the Philippine Department of Agriculture has stated that 237,000 hectares of agricultural land is suffering drought with an estimated 358,000 metric tonnes of production lost. Corn and rice have been two of the worst affected crops. The Department of Trade and Industry has declared a state of calamity in several drought-stricken provinces and cities in Mindanao.
The current drought is severely affecting provinces all across the Philippines. It is causing economic devastation for thousands of Filipinos and in the worst hit areas such as Kidapawan, there is growing hunger and desperation. We are faced by a major threat to food security in the Philippines.
It is vital that the Philippines government take immediate measures both to ensure that no communities in the Philippines are facing starvation, but also introduce long term measures, such as large scale investment in irrigation systems, against future droughts to protect national food security.
Many other towns and provinces apart from Kidapawan are now facing a desperate situation and other farmers are organising in other provinces to protest their desperate situation. The brutal and bloody response of the authorities to the Kidapawan farmers’ protest, should not be the response to the food crisis.
Our organisations, together with other Filipino migrants, want a clear government response and action on the following demands:
- We call for immediate and adequate support and relief to the farmers.
- We call for an enquiry into why the government funds provided for such relief last January had not been used for that purpose.
- We call for an explanation of why the state authorities continue to refuse to distribute relief goods to these farmers and their communities, and frustrate the efforts of those seeking to provide such support from their own resources.
- We call for a truly open and independent enquiry into the policing of this event and, most especially, into the use of live ammunition against a crowd composed of both families and young children and into the allegations of torture.
- We demand that those responsible for the outrageous state actions that day be brought to justice and pay for their actions both in crowd dispersal and what happened subsequently.
- Along with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), other concerned churches and organizations, we call on the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines to honour churches being safe havens for all people, and to immediately allow church and NGO workers free movement, to search for those who are still missing and to take the wounded to hospitals.
We wish to express our deep concern at the desperate situation in the Philippines and our government’s apparent lack of response to it. We are already organising fund raising initiatives to support independent efforts to aid drought stricken communities and support in rebuilding their livelihood.
As part of our response and solidarity to victims, we will be holding a silent picket and candle lighting at the embassy to mark the Global Action Day for Justice for Victims of the Kidapawan Massacre on 8th April 2016 from 4.00pm.
Consequently, we urgently request a meeting with you on the same day 8th April 2016, Friday, in order that you can brief us about what measures the government has in place to alleviate hunger in affected communities and to ensure long term food security; as well as what measures the government is taking to bring to justice those responsible for the massacre in Kidapawan, and to ensure that the security forces across the country are used to support drought-stricked communities rather than to attack them.
Many thanks and we look forward to your immediate response.
Chair- Campaign for Human Rights in Philippines
Chair, Kanlungan Filipino Consortium
Chair – Filipino Domestic Workers Association
Rafael J Maramag
Representative, UNISON Filipino Activist Network
Rev. Fr. Herbert Fadriquela, Jr.
Parish Priest, Filipino Chaplaincy, Leicestershire