From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 20): Militant groups commemorate Peasant Day and World Food Day
Around 100 people marched around the streets of Dumaguete City and ended up at the Rizal Boulevard Thursday afternoon for a brief rally to commemorate Peasant Day as well as World Food Day ahead of its regular celebration on October 21.
Candido Ebarle, secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan local chapter told reporters in an interview that they, however, are calling the celebration World Foodless Day instead, referring to the current plight of the poor farmers.
Ebarle explained the protest march-rally was also held to condemn the violent dispersal by police forces of a rally that was held at the United States Embassy in Manila on Wednesday, where policemen and protesters were injured.
“We are strongly condemning the dispersal that was an aggression and a repressive form to disband the 'Lumads' and the 'Moros' at the said rally in Manila," Ebarle added.
It started out as a peaceful protest rally with negotiations between the militants and the police and it was only towards the end of the program when the last speaker was getting ready to deliver his message that a certain Pedroza had allegedly ordered the police to disband the group of “Moro”, Ebarle pointed out.
Ebarle was referring to Sr. Supt. Marcelino Pedrozo, who, along with eight other police officers to include the driver of the police van that plowed into the protesters, were relieved from their posts immediately.
In that incident, a police van was caught on video ramming into the protesters, while water cannons were also trained at them as tension broke out during the rally, and it is very obvious it was the government forces that had started the violent confrontation, Ebarle added.
“This is a form of repression and aggression that clearly shows the Metro Manila Police District is not giving protection to the Filipino rallyists but instead to the US Embassy,” the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan leader stressed.
Meanwhile, Ebarle clarified that they are not opposed to the Philippines breaking ties with the Unites States, but that the Independent Foreign Policy they are pushing for is one that is equitable and fair and with a purpose.
The Bayan leader announced that as regards the new administration under President Rodrigo Duterte, they have high hopes in his leadership but again “we will not turn a blind eye and a deaf ear” on policies that would disenfranchise the poor and marginalized sectors in the community.
The first 100 days of the Duterte administration have shown certain accomplishments but the President needs the support of the people for a progressive administration.
Present during the march-rally were members from the provincial formation of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Kahugpongan Alang sa Mga Gagmayng Mag-uuma sa Oriental Negros, Pamalakaya Guihulngan, National Federation of Sugar Farm Workers, and women’s peasant organizations Gabriela and Amihan.
They come from towns and cities as far as Guihulngan, Manjuyod, Bais, Sta. Catalina, Siaton and Bayawan in Negros Oriental, and carried with them placards, and other printed materials that expressed their individual concerns.
Ebarle said they were able to obtain a mayor’s permit for today’s march rally but originally it would have been on Friday but this had to be moved a day ahead because of the Buglasan Festival of Festivals on that day.