Young leaders urge Presidential candidates to seriously look into food security issue

Press release - April 8, 2016
Manila, Philippines - Following the recent Kidapawan incident involving farmers demanding food from the government, a group of young leaders expressed their dismay and are urging the Presidential candidates to seriously look into the country’s food situation especially as the country is reeling from the effects of climate change.

“What happened in Kidapawan is clearly an issue of food emergency and lack of effective and efficient preparation on the part of the government,” said Paolo Martin Saberon, Chairperson of the #IAmHampasLupa Youth Movement.  “Our candidates should already take a cue from this lesson and ensure that incidents such as this never happen again,” he said.
The #IAmHampasLupa Ecological Agriculture Movement is composed of youth leaders from across the country looking to secure the future of food and farming in the Philippines. Initiated under a Greenpeace Philippines campaign in partnership with youth groups, the movement encourages youth to participate in putting food security, nutrition and ecological agriculture at the center of national development.  The group is currently calling on candidates to include these in their platforms of governance, especially those vying for the Presidency.
“We are campaigning to encourage the youth to take interest in farming,” said Saberon. “But how can we encourage young people, if what we see is the pitiful if not horrendous condition of our farmers; farmers, who provide us food, are out in the street begging for food, only to be shot at or arrested.  What is so inspiring about that?”
The group had earlier expressed disappointment over the recent PiliPinas Presidential Debates in Cebu, since candidates didn’t really express clear stands or plans on environmental issues that were expected to be tackled.
Ryan Bestre, another #IAmHampasLupa official, said that the next debates and other electoral forums should do away with mudslinging and instead focus on concrete measures on how the next president will address pressing issues, such as agriculture and climate change.  
The group challenged the Presidential candidates to answer three questions as they prepare for the last and final Presidential debates: 1) how can they ensure national security when Filipinos are food insecure; 2) how can they talk about tax reform when government funds are misused to subsidize corporate farms and are misdirected away from the farming sector which could potentially boost economic growth as seen in other countries; and 3) how can they talk about defending sovereign rights of the Philippines when you cannot even defend our farmers?
“The government should prioritize the issue of climate change and its impact on our lives. Climate change has already affected our food security; farmers who are supposed to be providing us with food are first and foremost the affected sectors,” added Bestre, who participated in the Climate Reality Project training last March.
“Current government measures against El Niño are merely temporary coping mechanisms that do not correspond to long-term solutions on attaining food security.  If we do not adopt a change in the current agriculture system, food insecurity issues will worsen and may again result in food price hikes and riots,” warned Bestre.
“To defend our farmers and ensure food security, the next President of the country should accept the inevitable - that we need a shift towards ecological agriculture [1] which is not only safe and sustainable, but also a system that empowers our farmers.  The Kidapawan incident is just one outcome of a greater social, humanitarian and security conflict that should be immediately addressed and never allowed to happen again,” Bestre added. 

For media interviews, please contact:

Angelica Pago, Media Campaigner
Greenpeace Philippines
| (+63) 9498891332

Notes to editor:

[1] Ecological farming is a climate resilient farming system that could help face the impacts of El Nino on agriculture and our food. Ecological farming is based on the diversity of nature, for example diversity of seeds and plants and diversity of many different crops grown in the same field. Ecological farmers plant diverse crops at the same time in their field, which will respond to droughts or typhoons differently and guarantee a safety net in case one crop fails. Such “insurance” is not achievable in an industrial monoculture system where food and nutrition security is more at risk.
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Paolo Martin Saberon (Chairperson, #IAmHampasLupa Ecological Agriculture Movement)

An outstanding community mobilizer and young leader in Cebu and the founder of the award-winning youth organization Cebuano Youth Ambassadors - named as one of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organization in the Philippines and the National Coke Barkada Awardee for 2012.

He was a recipient of the Recognizing Outstanding Davao Youth Project Season 2 – Ten Most Outstanding Youth Ambassadors of Davao City. He moved in Cebu City and earned his degree in Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from University of Cebu. His strong involvement with the Cebu City Government’s projects for the youth through the Cebu City Youth Development Commission where he was once appointed as Commissioner representing the Youth and the Students Sector (2011-2012) and his projects that champions the ceaseless spirit of the Cebuano Youth in Nation Building, he was awarded by the Cebu City Government as the winner in the Search for The Outstanding Cebu City Youth Leader in 2012.
From 2010 to 2012, he served as the President of Cebu City Federation of Supreme Student Councils and Governments. Further, he also served as Chairperson for the Visayas Region of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP). Currently he is a community mobilizer of the Bottom Up Budgeting projects in the 1st District of Cebu.
Ryan Bestre (Committee on Budget and Finance)

An environmentalist, teacher, a performer, a writer and a renewable energy advocate. He currently works for Solar Pacific, a solar energy company. He is one of the Climate Reality leaders who recently completed the Climate Reality Project Training given by Al Gore.