As concerned citizens across the country and all over the world join the Global Day of Action for Justice to the victims of Kidapawan massacre today April 8, 2016, the sustainable development alliance Green Action PH asks the Aquino government where is the Php19 billion it promised in December 2015 for El Niño.
“The Aquino government has even crafted the Roadmap to Address the Impact of El Niño (RAIN). What happened to the funds and to RAIN?”, asks Sanshen Maglinte, Spokesperson for Green Action PH.
This is on top of the Php39 billion funds allocated to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund (NDRRMF) for 2016, from which government agencies including the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD),National Irrigation Administration (NIA) mayrequest additional funds once their funds allocated for calamities (called Quick Response Fund) are used up. There are also the reported unused funds amounting to more than Php16 billion in calamity funds (NDRRMF and QRF) as of September 2015.
On top of the said funds, the local government units (LGUs) are allowed to use at least 5% of their funds generated from regular revenues for calamity assistance.
“As the devastation wrought by the extreme drought due to the El Niño phenomenon spreads and heightens across the country, the Aquino government has again been slow to respond. It has also been slow to take decisive action for the farmers in the face of gross violations of their human rights perpetrated by the local Philippine National Police (PNP) and under the administration of North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza,” says Maglinte.
“Because of El Niño that started in 2015, many farmers across the country were not able to plant and harvest in May and in October 2015. Lean period extended from the usual five to seven months to more than nine months. But assistance from the government has been wanting and slow, and obviously has not reached most of the starving farmers and their families. The pangs of hunger have prompted them to organize, struggle and demand rice and support from the calamity funds of the government,” said Estrella Catarata, executive director of the Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes (PNFSP), a member of Green Action PH.
“Instead of assisting the poorest of its constituents, the farmers and the indigenous peoples, the government has neglected them at the height of their hunger. The farmers are the country’s primary food producers. If they are unable to produce food and starve, we all eventually go hungry”, says Cathy Estavillo, spokesperson of Bantay Bigas (Rice Monitor), also a member of Green Action PH.
“If the government only genuinely prepared for El Niño and channeled the funds where they were meant, this tragedy would not happen. In the longer term, had government dedicated funds to more productive programs such as developing post-harvest facilities, subsidies, sustainable agriculture programs and appropriate technologies for irrigation instead of the piece-meal conditional cash transfer programs (CCT), our farmers would not be as badly hit by calamities,” said Maglinte.
Green Action PH joins the farmers and multi-sectoral organizations, including church organizations, schools, and concerned citizens on this Global Day of Action to demand for Justice for Kidapawan Massacre Victims. <Photo by People’s Lens>