Manila, Philippines – Greenpeace denounced the bloody response made by police on Friday, April 1, to protests by farmers and lumad (Indigenous Peoples) from the different towns of Cotabato who were demanding relief and subsidy for farm communities affected by the drought brought about by El Niño. At least one farmer was killed and 13 others were wounded, three in serious condition, after gunfire erupted as police attempted to clear the protest.

“Greenpeace condemns this unmerciful and inhumane treatment of our farmers in the strongest possible way. The farmers were merely trying to get the local government’s attention to their plight in the face of El Niño, with Mindanao being hardest hit and their families facing hunger for months already. Instead of assistance and food, what they got were water cannons, batons and gunshots,” said Leonora Lava, Senior Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner of Greenpeace Philippines.

Some 6,000 farmers and lumad from all over the province started setting up human barricades across the Cotabato-Davao highway on Wednesday, March 30. The farmers were demanding relief, particularly food, after three months of waiting with El Niño at its peak and government failing to address the situation. The government has the resources [1] to respond to the immediate effects, and yet little to no help has gone to the farmers in Mindanao.

“The government has been adequately forewarned by PAG-ASA about El Nino since 2015. The country has faced the impacts of El Niño in the past, especially the strong one in 1997-1998. Greenpeace has, in fact, called on the government and those vying for the Presidency to lay down their immediate and long term response to this growing food and agriculture crises.

“We stand with the farmers, who are the producers of our food, in demanding justice. Those who are responsible for this senseless violence need to be held liable. The farmers are already helpless as it is with the current impacts of El Niño, but the government’s inaction and the brutal reaction to the protest are beyond excuse,” Lava added.

Notes to the Editor:

[1] The Department of Agriculture allocated Php900 million to assist farmers who are affected by severe El Niño in Mindanao.

Contact:

Leonora Lava, Senior Ecological Agriculture Campaigner
Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Email: llava@greenpeace.org | Mobile: (+63) 998 562 4005

Angelica Carballo-Pago, Media Campaigner
Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Email: apago@greenpeace.org | Mobile: (+63) 949 889 1332