The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to inform you that the villagers in Kamuhkaan village suffer from hunger and illness aggravated by flood. The local government temporarily provided food and a medical check-up for the villagers, which is not sufficient. In fact, floods come to Kamuhkaan village every year causing serious problems for the villagers from pesticides flowing into the ground water from the banana plantation adjacent to the village.
The villagers in Kamuhkaan village, Aplaya, Hagonoy municipality, Davao Del Sur province, Mindanao suffer from hunger and lack of food because of flooding which lasted two weeks this time. Due to the flood, the water and soil is contaminated by pesticides coming from a banana plantation nearby. This further aggravates the poor health of the villagers as well as further polluting the environment of the community.
The Hagonoy municipality authority temporarily provided the villagers with some food and a medical check-up on 8 January 2009. These things are not sufficient and ultimately will not solve the cyclic inundation that occurs every year.
When the AHRC staff visited this village last September, they noticed that many villagers suffer from extreme poverty and lack of food. Health problems abound since the abundant natural resources such as vegetation and marine resources were taken over by a banana plantation that polluted the area with the pesticides used to protect the bananas. [Photo 1: overall view of Kamuhkaan village]
Mrs. Elizabeth Bagueran (aged 31) is pregnant and takes care of five children. Her husband Mr. Michael (aged 35) either does salt-water fishing two kilometres away from the village or works as an informal labourer for which he is paid about PHP 800 (USD 17) a week. All seven family members live in an old hut made of bamboo sticks near the river. Michael and Elizabeth find it difficult to provide nutritious food as well as school fees for the children. None of the children go to school and hardly have sufficient food each day. The family has not eaten meat for a year. Their staple foods usually are bananas or shellfish from the sea and some rice which is not a balanced diet and contributes to the children’s malnourished condition. [Photo 2: Elizabeth and her children living in a small hut]
Another villager Mrs. Marilo Dolondon (aged 28) also faces the same difficulties in getting adequate food for her family. Her husband earns PHP 400 (USD 8.5) a week from making firewood with which Marilo has to manage food and school fees for three children; an infant just a few months old and two daughters. All family members rarely have meat to eat and survive on bananas, vegetables and salted dried fish. [Photo 3: Marilo, her husband and her baby]
Some villagers are not provided with the basic needs of water and electricity as they are too poor to pay the required public tax for these facilities. Mr. Katerno Campojan (aged 59) lives with his wife (aged 56), his daughter (aged 16) and a one month old granddaughter. They cannot do anything at home after sunset as there is no electricity in their home. He earns PHP 300 (USD 6.4) a week which amount makes providing sufficient food difficult. Everyday each one of the family members experiences hunger pains. [Photo 4: Katerno and his family]
Some villagers from about 300 households in Porok 6 and 7 are employed as farm labourers at the banana plantation for only five months in the year. This does not constitute regular employment. They hardly can get even regular work. And the natural resources the villagers once depended on economically to feed their children have been taken over by the banana plantation. As a result, many of the children neither go to school nor enjoy adequate food. According to the health worker, there are some children who are malnourished. [Photo 5: children with blond hair showing their malnutrition, deficiency of protein and alleged affection of pesticides]
The flood waters that come to Kamuhkaan village every year accelerate food insecurity and further contribute to the poor health of the villagers mainly due to the pesticides used by the plantation which seeps into their ground water and soil. The local government provides food and medical care for the villagers, which is not enough to ensure food security or prevent the yearly cyclic disaster.
Kamuhkaan is notorious as a poisoned village since the Lapanday Development Corporation (LADECO) in 1981 established a 613-hectare banana plantation to supply the transnational corporation Dole.
A fact-finding report was conducted in 2003 by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP-Peasant Movement in the Philippines) in cooperation with a group of medical doctors, scientists, technologists and other local groups. Their report showed that hundreds of villagers died and suffered from skin and respiratory related ailments attributed to the widespread application of pesticides which were extremely hazardous. The banana plantation expanded its operation in early 1980.
It was reported that children got sick and died in 1988. One mother lost her two children in one day. It was noticed that all the domestic animals died once they were exposed to the aerial spraying pesticides and the coconut trees did not bear fruit any more. In 1997 fish were found floating dead in the fish ponds inside the village. Previously the waters in the river and sea were teeming with fish but now are heavily polluted with chemicals. It is also reported that Infants were often born sick with disfigured bodies while babies died at birth or shortly thereafter. As a result, there no longer seems to be any quality of life in the village.
Notwithstanding all these disasters, the local newspaper including Dr. Romeo Quijano was made subject to a libel suit from the banana plantation company. Villagers who testified were harassed and forced to sign retractions of their initial testimonies. The newspaper was made to close down and the suit against them was dismissed.
Currently, the security guards attached to the banana plantation patrol the village. The local government authority reported that hazardous chemicals have not been detected any more. As a result of the protest by the villagers, the local government authority and the LADECO gave up their duty of care for the villagers.
However, life goes on and the villagers are still suffering from lack of food and work as well as being surrounded by extremely unhealthy living conditions particularly during the rainy season or flooding.
Please send a letter to the authorities mentioned below expressing your concern about the villagers suffering from food insecurity and health insecurity in Kamuhkaan village of Davao. Please urge the relevant government authorities to ensure food security.
The AHRC has also written a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health and Right to Food calling for their intervention.
To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER
PHILIPPINES: Flood waters aggravate hunger and poor health of the villagers in Davao
Name of the affected village: Kamukhaan village (Barangay), Aplaya, Hagonoy Municipality, Davao Del Sur
I am writing to express my concern about the villagers in Kamukhaan village who have been suffering from hunger and health problems for years.
I am informed that the villagers suffer from hunger and lack of food by a flood which lasted two weeks this year. Due to the flood, the water and soil became contaminated by pesticides used by a banana plantation which further aggravated the poor health of the villagers as well as the environment in the community.
The Hagonoy municipality authority temporarily provided the villagers with some food and a medical check-up on 8 January 2009. This proved to be neither sufficient nor the ultimate solution to the cyclic inundation taking place each year.
I have learned that the villagers once had adequate food and enjoyed good health until the Lapanday Development Corporation (LADECO) in 1981 established a 613-hectare banana plantation to supply the transnational corporation Dole.
According to a report published in 2003, the hazardous pesticides used for banana cultivation killed many villagers, domestic animals, river and sea fish, as well as destroying all kinds of natural resources including food resources. Infants were often born sick with disfigured bodies. Babies died at birth or shortly after birth. Many children with blond hair, the telling sign of malnutrition and protein deficiency abounded.
I am further informed that when the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) visited the village last September, they could see that many villagers still suffer from hunger and health problems. Although the government announced that pesticides have not been detected any more, food and health security problems remain. After all, it must be remembered that they lost all their natural resources including land for agriculture upon which they are economically dependent. Up to now children with blond hair can be observed in the village.
I am aware that in particular, during the rainy season or at flooding times, water washes over the plantation and this contaminated water flows into the village continuously threatening their food security and health.
I therefore, call upon you to intervene with the relevant authorities so that they urgently provide sufficient support for the villagers to help them recover their lives from the ravages of the flood. Moreover, further steps need to be taken to fully ensure food and health security in the village. The villagers have not been ensured food security since they lost all their resources for earning a living.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Republic of the Philippines
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
2. Dr. FRANCISCO T. DUQUE III
Department of Health
San Lazaro Compound, Sta. Cruz, Manila
Tel: +63 2 743 8301
Fax: +63 2 743-1829
3. Dr. Esperanza I. Cabral
Department of Social Welfare and Development
DSWD Bldg., Constitution Hills, Batasan Complex,
Tel: +63 2 931 8101 / 2 931 8107
Fax: +63 2 931 8191
4. Mr. Arthur C. Yap
Department of Agriculture
Chairperson of National Food Authority Council
North Avenue, Diliman
5. Datu Zamzamin L. Ampatuan, CESO I
National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC)
3rd floor, Agricultural Training Institute (ATI)
Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City
Tel: +63 2 426 5028 / 2 426 5019 / 2 426 4965 / 2 426 4956
Fax: +63 2 927 9838
6. Stephen L. Anderson
Country Director of World Food Programme
5/F JAKA 2 Building, 150 Legaspi St.
Legaspi Village, Makati City, Metro Manila
Tel: + 63 2 750 2561 / 2 751 9166 / 2 894 2730
Fax: + 63 2 750 2562
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org)