APRIL 11, 2020
Farmers and farmworkers of Negros Island are yet to receive aid coming from the Duterte administration as Covid-19 wreaks havoc in the island. Reports confirmed atleast 14 cases of Covid-19 with 2 deaths. Local lockdowns were declared in the island’s two provinces last March 15 and 17. Felicidad Mercado, spokesperson of Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid (PKM)-Negros, said the Covid-19 crisis is an early ‘Tiempo Muerto’ for sugarcane farmworkers. ‘Tiempo Muerto’ is a dead season for sugarcane farmworkers usually occurring from early July to August resulting to hunger.
She blasted the incoherent and slow implementation of the Social Amelioration Package (SAP) of the government to support the people. “Not all are guaranteed to receive it, apart from a long process and several paperworks,” her statement read.
Mercado contrasted the slow distribution of aid to the people with the speedy approval of the law granting Duterte emergency powers. She emphasized that farmers and farmworkers of Negros are most affected by hunger and poverty amid the Covid-19 pandemic crisis. Negros Island is home to more than 300,000 sugarcane farmworkers.
Mercado called on farmers and farmworkers to collectively face the crisis. “We should launch several types of anti-feudal struggles including increasing our food production as an answer to severe hunger due to the Covid-19 crisis,” she ended.
Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid is an underground organization of farmers and farmworkers under the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.