Migrante community activists troop to Philippine Consulate over Kidapawan Massacre
By Luisito Queano
April 24, 2016
It was a show of force when group of fourteen (14) community activists led by Bayan-Migrante Canada stormed the Philippine Consulate Toronto Office to protest the Aquino government’s criminal neglect of the Kidapawan farmers.
At around 1 PM on April 22, the Phililippine Consulate office in Toronto Canada was caught by surprise when Migrante community activists carrying placards that said “Don’t Starve and Shoot the Farmers” and wearing black t-shirts printed with “Bigas Hindi Bala” (Rice/Food Not Bullets) silently walked inside the consulate office for about 5 minutes.
The silent protest surprised the staff and personnel of the Philippine Consulate. The consulate staff threatened the protesters that they would be calling the police if they would not stop the protest.
“Bawal po iyan dito! “(It’s not allowed here!) one of the consulate personnel was overheard shouting at the protesters.
Jesson Reyes, Migrante Regional Coordinator, in his statement after the protest action said: “ This is part of the ongoing actions being held almost weekly in Toronto to protest the criminal neglect of the Aquino administration of the Kidapawan farmers. We have been holding protest actions since the violent dispersal was done against the 6,000 farmers in Kidapawan North Cotabato on April 1 that killed two (2) farmers and injured more than 100 farmers. They were only asking for rice but the government gave them bullets instead.”
Last April 6, Migrante sent a letter of protest to the Philippine Consulate office in Toronto and was personally delivered by Bern Jagunos of ICHRP Canada, Rafunzel Korngut of Gabriela Ontario and Viel Perida of Anakbayan Toronto. That same day Migrante Canada held a candlelight vigil at Bathurst-Wilson Parkette in honor of the victims of Kidapawan massacre including those injured in the protest and illegally arrested and detained farmers.
“The issue here is very clear: these 6,000 farmers who occupied Kidapawan highway since March 30 were asking for rice subsidy as part of the calamity funds from the government but they were instead fired at with bullets. The protest group included women and children, and also women advocates for peasants’ rights, and they were all begging for sacks of rice due to the prevailing drought there. Filipino women today bear the brunt of poverty – and in critical conditions like drought affecting 237, 000 hectares of land, they are thrown into misery – and yet the government resolves this problem by ignoring it,” according to Petronila Cleto of Gabriela Ontario, one of the activists who took part in the mass action at the Philippine Consulate.
“The women courageously joined the men in protesting this neglect, and we see the “final answer” of this callous and incompetent government in its extreme form of violence: the outright killing of its own people,” Cleto added.
Latest reports said many other protest rallies and mass actions are happening nationwide including the 3,000 farmers from South Cotabato who camped out at the Department of Agriculture Region 12 Office, 2,000 farmers from Cagayan de Oro and 5,000 from Bukidnon. The island-wide protests against hunger escalated to farmers in Luzon including that of Hacienda Luisita.
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