Press Release
April 6, 2016


Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero said the national government must do everything within its legal powers to immediately assist the Kidapawan farmers and agricultural workers whose lives were significantly disrupted by the El Nino phenomenon and drought which started October last year.

"It is incomprehensible that the Commission on Human Rights has stated that certain government forces are preventing the entry and distribution of assistance to Kidapawan farmers and agricultural workers. What is the present administration telling us through these actions? When will our government officials grow up and be responsible and accountable?" said Escudero, an independent candidate under "Gobyernong may Puso," along with leading presidential bet, Sen. Grace Poe.

News reports from Kidapawan City said that police blocked 300 farmers coming from the town of Makilala, about 11 kilometers from the capital of North Cotabato, to partake of the rice donations from civic organizations and celebrities to help ease the hunger of protesters.

Three farmers died and dozens others were injured in the violent police dispersal of farmers blocking the Cotabato-Davao highway last week. The farmers were seeking immediate help for food aid and farm assistance from the government to cope with the harsh impact of the long-drawn drought on their crops.

"Can you picture the real situation here on the ground? These are farmers and agricultural workers whose jobs were to till the lands and nurture the soil to grow food. Now, they are the ones begging for food from us, from the national government, from the local government. And yet no substantial help is going their way Are we killing them through starvation?" said Escudero, the voters' top pick for vice president based on all pre-election surveys.

"Food growers with no food to eat? This should not be happening in an agricultural country, whose economic growth rate being brandished by the incumbent government is one of Asia's best. Where did the benefits from this economic growth rate go?" the veteran lawmaker said.

Instead of blocking or hampering the arrival of food supplies and all forms of assistance to these affected farmers and agricultural workers, the government should marshal all resources within its disposal to air lift food supplies to these people, if necessary, he said.

"I am appealing to all men and women working for peace and justice to come together as Filipinos regardless of political and religious beliefs. We must help our fellow Filipinos now in Kidapawan," Escudero said.

"We are talking here of thousands of Filipinos literally with nothing to eat, nor water to drink, exposed to the elements. What is unjust is that the groups severely affected are food growers who fed us through the years," he added.

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