SAN FRANCISCO – Kababayans in protest said that if the Philippine government cannot provide the rice that the farmers in Kidapawan have protested for and some have even died for, then they will do it for them.
A demonstration of over 100 people in front of the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco demanded accountability for the Philippine National Police’s April 1 violent dispersal of thousands of farmers that left three dead and hundreds injured, including children.
The farmers were demanding that the local government provide immediate relief after months of drought, including the release of 15,000 sacks of rice.
Princess Bustos of Migrante said she is frustrated with what’s happening in the Philippines.
“Where is the president? He has done nothing to help the farmers!” said Bustos. “There are so many Filipinos who immigrate here and send remittances but the farmers couldn’t even get $5!”
Katie Joaquin of the International Council on Human Rights Policy said they are calling for any foreign military funding to the Philippines to come with human rights conditions.
“US tax payer funds should not be going towards supporting impunity and to be supporting the violent dispersal of families and children,” said Joaquin.
While these activists protested outside and as others occupied the consulate lobby, a small contingent met with Consul General Henry Bensurto Jr. to demand that he call Malacañang to help the farmers of Kidapawan and hold the PNP accountable for their action.
“We did not get what we want,” said Aurora Victoria David of NAFCON. “He said that there were constraints and that he will convey the message but our concern is that we had meetings with the consulate so many times, sit down meetings, but still our demands haven’t been met.”
Demonstrations against the Philippine government have also taken place in Los Angeles, New York and British Columbia.
“We believe that it’s sending the message that this movement of human rights is only growing,” said Joaquin. “It will only grow stronger and anyone who denies human rights in the Philippines will face the wrath of a growing movement of people around the world.”
The activists will be participating in a Global Day of Action that includes a 24-hour fast on April 8 to stand in solidarity with the farmers.