Right to Food advocates seek UN Rapporteur’s support for Kidapawan farmers
By People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty
More than 200 social movements and civil society organizations from more than 60 countries have signed a statement asking Dr. Hilal Elver, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Right to Food, to investigate the killings of Kidapawan farmers and the government’s failure to address the plight of starving communities due the El Niño phenomenon in the country.
Police authorities open fired at the protesting farmers last April 1, 2016 that resulted in the killing of 2 farmers and injuring more than a hundred civilians while more than 80 persons were also arrested. Among those who were arrested were three pregnant women, six elderly individuals and four minors.
The group claims that the incident falls right into the mandate of Dr. Elver given the alleged criminal neglect of the state on the realization of the right of the farmers to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger especially on severe conditions such as drought. Anomalies on calamity fund distribution and failure to provide food relief to families suffering from the effects of El Niño were officially reported to the ongoing Senate inquiry.
Spearheaded by the Peoples Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), several organizations from Europe, North America, Africa, Middle East and Asia have issued statements condemning the incident along with sending memes and group pictures to social media of activists holding placards in support of the Kidapawan farmers. PCFS and its allied organizations have also participated in the globally coordinated protest action held last April 8 to condemn internationally the violent incident in Kidapawan.
The network cited that it is important for Dr. Hilal Elver to be part of an independent body to investigate not only the massacre but also the overall condition of food insecurity in provinces being hit by El Niño. PCFS claims that initial reports of a fact finding team of human rights groups shows evidence of a cover up by the current administration including the local government and the police authorities on what truly transpired in North Cotabato that led to the bloody incident.
PCFS together with the Asian Peasant Coalition and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (National Peasant Movement of the Philippines) have worked with Dr. Olivier De Schutter, predecessor of Dr. Hilal Elver, on the issue of landgrabbing in Isabela. The group reported that Dr. De Schutter and Mr. S. James Anaya, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples then, have issued a strong joint statement that raised the alarm on the possible impact that the agrofuel project will create in the communities of Isabela and in the food security of the Philippines in general. The agrofuel project then was halted on the same year.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food monitors the situation and identifies general trends related to the right to food and undertakes country visits which provide the Special Rapporteur with a firsthand account on the situation concerning the right to food in a specific country. The Special Rapporteur also communicates with States and other concerned parties with regard to alleged cases of violations of the right to food and other issues related to his/her mandate.
Some of the organizations and institutions that signed the statement of condemnation were faith-based organizations, trade unions, farmers and indigenous peoples movements, research institutions, NGOs among others. PCFS is planning to bring their demands to the Senate hearing along with various agencies pertinent to the farmers’ concern in Kidapawan.
The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty is a network of various grassroots groups of small food producers particularly of peasant-farmer organizations and their support NGOs, working towards a People’s Convention on Food Sovereignty.
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