Friday, 1 April 2016

Of Rice and Bullets: Protest after Hunger under Tiempo Muerto

Of Rice and Bullets:
Protest after Hunger under Tiempo Muerto

(Or how the Farmers of Kidapawan struggle 
Against hunger and repression)

source: Tinay Palabay

"Rice not Bullets!"

These are one of the calls of the peasants during the scuffle in a government-owned granary in North Cotobato.

With 3 killed, 116 wounded, these farmers, suffering from a dry spell known as "Tiempo Muerto", hath resorted to marching and barricading the granary for three days, before the authorities forcibly dispersing them resulting to a scuffle.

source: Tinay Palabay
source: Tinay Palabay
And like any other incident involving these angry and desperate peasants, the authorities fired their guns against them, as well as issuing arrest warrants for their disorderly act. But to think that with the authorities' action, it shows how the state failed to heed the clamour of the hungry, suffering peasant, but instead, forcing to disperse from their three-day picket near the National Food Authority compound, what more of firing them with guns, unintentionally killing them, and arresting others all in the name of restoring order.

source: Tinay Palabay
To some people concerned, these events may looked common like those of Mendiola, Hacienda Luisita, or even the Mediaeval peasant revolts that demands food for their aching stomachs, that these peasants clamouring for aid for their families as well as justice in their communities, while at the same time hearing the system describing them as rebels for being against the authorities with all their statements pointing against them. 

Or as according to James Aaron Mangun:

"Of course blame the victims and accuse them of being NPA and traffic obstruction."

Furthermore, the statement from the group "Ugnayan ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura" (UMA) expressed hatred against the system due to that incident, as it said (via Manila Times):

"It should be remembered that the Philippine government’s handling of peasant problems has always been bloody and violent. “These include,” the UMA statement said, “among others, the Escalante, Mendiola, and Hacienda Luisita massacres. If this is how the present government and the next one will handle issues of peasants in the coming days and months, they should prepare for the wrath of the common people whose options are not only limited to asserting their democratic rights in the streets.”

Such actions taken by the system has made things worse. Or rather say it makes the word "Tiempo Muerto" in Kidapawan more than the dry spell that brought famine. Literally wise, the Spanish word itself is what the system did to these hungry peasantfolk yearning for food and justice, especially that these peasantfolks had marched, picketed, demanded food as such.

Only to be replied with forced dispersal, or worse, firing them with guns, whether in the air or intentionally in front of these hungry, desperate, angry folks from the swarthy countryside.