DAVAO CITY, Philippines – This month of October, indigenous peoples (Lumad) are supposedly harvesting crops from the farm, said Lumad leader, Datu Kaylo Bontulan.
The leader of the Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanogon, however, said many of them are not able to tend their farms and harvest crops since 2015.
Bontulan is among the 290 evacuees at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran compound here.
He said Lumad in the region experience hunger due to the impact of big businesses such as logging in their communities and militarization.
“We are not happy with the food day celebration. We’re still in the evacuation center because the killings of our fellow Lumad and land grabbing continue,” said Bontulan.
The Lumad have taken refuge at the UCCP Haran since 2015. Most of the are from Talaingod and Kapalong in Davao del Norte who fled their communities due to militarization and harassment of paramilitary group called Alamara that tags them as supporters of the New People’s Army.
Bontulan said they mainly rely on donations and assistance from different support groups for daily sustenance. Donated foods, including instant noodles and canned goods, are totally different from their usual diet of rice, vegetables, corn and sweet potato back in their communities, he said.
As a show of solidarity, MASIPAG Mindanao hosted a gathering with the evacuees on Friday, October 13, before the United Nation’s World Food Day commemoration, where sweet potatoes and bananas were served to the Lumad.
Leo Fuentes, MASIPAG Mindanao Regional coordinator, said “there is no reason to celebrate world food day as millions worldwide experience hunger.”
Fuentes cited that 7 million Filipino children suffer from malnutrition and 515,000 families in Mindanao are hungry in the last quarter of 2016, according to a Social Weather Station survey.
“October 16 must be commemorated as World Day of Hunger instead, the global system of greed, plunder and corporate control in agriculture resulted to the dire condition of at least 370 million indigenous people throughout the planet,” Fuentes added.
October 16 is observed globally as the World Food Day, coinciding with the founding of the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945.
This year’s theme is “Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development”.
Bontulan said the Lumad cannot expect food security as long as big businesses plunder their lands, while militarization drives them away and prohibits them to till their land and produce their own food. (davaotoday.com)