MILITARY OPERATIONS DISPLACED FISHERS, FARMERS
Fishers group urges Palace to lift state of emergency in Sulu
The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday urged Malacañang and the Department of National Defense to immediately lift the state of emergency imposed all over Sulu in connection with the Sulu hostage crisis.
In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro should immediately recall the declaration after learning that the measure meant to crush the Abu Sayaff hostage takers and free the remaining two hostages are now affecting the economic activities of farmers and fishermen in the island province.
A report said like thieves in the night, farmers tend to their crops under the cover of darkness to avoid being mistaken as Abu Sayyaf bandits, and the same applies to Sulu fishermen who go out to sea at night and return with their catch at dawn to evade being suspected as members of the Abu Sayyaf kidnapping group.
The same report said a total of 434 families from the villages of Kagay, Kagay proper, Baunuh, Badbad, Bakud, Lawum Saing, Purut, Lahnagan and Maligay in Indana town have left their homes due to military operations in connection with the hostage taking of three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
“Whether the Palace and the defense department admit it or not, their extreme political paranoia and strong bias for militarist solution in Mindanao have created an island wide economic displacement and psychological disturbance among the poor farmers and fisherfolk in Sulu,” Pamalakaya’s Hicap said.
According to Hicap, the farmers and fisherfolk of Sulu are the main food providers in the island. If they fail to harvest their produce, it would create a problem bigger than the hostage crisis in the island province.
Pamalakaya said President Arroyo and the National Security Council (NSC) should be held liable and accountable for the ongoing economic chaos and mental torture being experienced by the small farmers and fisherfolk brought about by the all-out military drive and declaration of state of emergency in Sulu island province
“Mrs. Arroyo and Mr. Teodoro should scrap the state of emergency in Sulu Island and allow the rural people to go back to their normal lives. The state-sponsored reign of terror in Sulu which is being effectively used to put the island under de facto Martial Law is now turning into an island wide nightmare for innocent folks,” the group said.
Pamalakaya said President Arroyo and top defense and military officials comprising the National Security Council are exploiting the criminal activities of Abu Sayyaf bandits to justify the imposition of emergency rule and the all-out military operations in Sulu.
“The kidnapping escapade of Abu Sayyaf bandits, who according to some insiders, have ties with warlords and top honchos of the military and police establishments is supposed to be a police matter, and therefore, should be addressed by elements of the Philippine National Police. How come the military people are there, directing operations which should be delegated to local police? It is really a major puzzle,” the group added. #