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UPDATE (Philippines): Food assistance assured to families of farmers suffering of hunger in Alabel, Sarangani province, Mindanao

November 15, 2005

UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

Update on Hunger Alert

15 November 2005

[Re: HA-25-2005: Unfairly sacked farm labourers in Mindanao forced to eat poisonous frogs and corncobs due to abject poverty and lack of food]
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HU-10-2005: UPDATE (Philippines): Food assistance assured to families of farmers suffering of hunger in Alabel, Sarangani province, Mindanao

PHILIPPINES: Hunger and starvation; land rights; inadequate government action
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is pleased to inform you that the provincial and municipal office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Alabel, Sarangani province, Mindanao has assured villagers that it will afford food assistance to families of farmers suffering hunger due to abject poverty (HA-25-2005). A reliable source said that 17 families will be included in the program.

The AHRC appreciates the response by both the local government and social welfare department; however, there are still reports of alleged misconduct and insensitivity by government employees in dealing with the victims of hunger. It was reported that some victims were reprimanded for making complaints and questioned as to why they need assistance.

The AHRC asks you to contact Mr. Hermelo Latoja, the head of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), urging him to ensure that the food assistance is properly distributed to the hunger victims.  An inquiry must be conducted regarding the alleged misconduct by some welfare staff and appropriate sanctions imposed if the allegations are true.

Further, please urge the local and provincial government of Sarangani, Mindanao to initiate steps to ensure food security to its constituents.


Urgent Appeals Desk – Hunger Alert
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
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UPDATED INFORMATION:

The AHRC has earlier reported that at least 16 farmers have had to eat poisonous frogs in order to survive due to abject poverty (HA-25-2005). The affected families of farmers, who are members of the Sarangani Agrarian Reforms Beneficiaries (Sarbco), were unfairly sacked from the banana plantation where they were formerly work for protesting against their company.

After the incident was reported, the social welfare department conducted interviews to each of the families of the victims. They later asked each of the victims to secure a certificate from the barangay (community) officials of Maribulan, Alabel indicating their present hunger conditions.

In the certificate issued to victims, the Barangay chairman Julio R. Emnace, has confirmed the AHRC's report that the victims are indeed 'jobless and suffer lack of food'. The certificates were then submitted by the victims to the Department of Social Welfare and Development office (DSWD) in the municipality and province. It was also reported that the municipal government of Alabel, Sarangani is expected to afford appropriate assistance to victims.

However, it was learned that some officials of barangay Maribulan, Alabel, reportedly reprimanded some of the victims. One of them allegedly said that the barangay should ignore letters coming from abroad regarding the hunger and starvation cases in their village as the victims did not inform them.

Nevertheless, the barangay chair issued the certificates, which eventually became the basis for intervention by the DSWD. It was later found out that 17 families, all of them former Sarangani Agricultural Company Incorporated (Saci) employees who were terminated for protesting against the company, are in need of assistance.

It was also learned that there is an existing programme under the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to afford livelihood assistance to affected families, but it has not been implemented yet. The said livelihood program is purposely for the victims to have alternative livelihoods and sources of income, in particular those terminated from their work.

Even though there is such a programme under the DAR, the Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (Paro) Mr. Faisal Tumog, has not acted to implement it swiftly. It was reported that the Paro instead required the Sarbco members, including the victims of hunger, to submit livelihood proposals rather than taking up the lead role to implement the program.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please send letters to the heads of the Municipal and the Provincial Social Welfare and Development offices. Urge them to closely monitor and ensure that food assistance to hunger victims is properly distributed. The duration of the assistance must last as the situation warrants. The provincial department must also initiate an inquiry regarding reports of misconduct by its staff. Please also send letters to the head of the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (Paro) asking him to implement the livelihood program for affected farmers without delay.

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SAMPLE LETTER:


Dear ___________,

Re: PHILIPPINES: Food assistance assured to families of farmers suffering of hunger in Alabel, Sarangani province, Mindanao

It has come to my attention that both the municipal and provincial office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Alabel, Sarangani province, Mindanao have positively responded to the situation of families suffering hunger. I was informed that 17 families, all of them being terminated workers of Sarangani Agricultural Company Incorporated (Saci), will benefit from the food assistance.

As I appreciate your effort, I urge that the local government, in particular the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), monitor that the food distribution program is properly implemented. It must also ensure that sustained assistance will reach the beneficiaries.

Since most of the victims are finding difficulty in getting alternative incomes, the food assistance must last until such time as their condition requires. The local government of Sarangani, Mindanao must likewise initiate steps to ensure that this is the case.

I strongly urge the Social Welfare and Development Department, in particular Mr. Hermelo Latoja, to initiate an inquiry into reports that some of the welfare staff acted improperly in dealing with the victims of hunger. I have learned that the victims were either reprimanded for making complaints or questioned about their need to receive assistance. If the allegations are proven true, action should be taken against the concerned staff. Such behavior must not be tolerated. It has no place in public service. Any person who complains must be treated with utmost sensitivity and respect, particularly in cases of starvation and hunger.

I further urge the head of the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (Paro), Mr. Faisal Tumog, to ensure that the livelihood assistance program to members of the Sarangani Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (Sarbco), to include hunger and starvation victims without delay.

Thank you again for your action in this case.

Sincerely yours,


_______________

SEND LETTERS TO:


1. Mr. Hermelo Latoja
Provincial Officer
Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO)
9501 Alabel, Sarangani Province
PHILIPPINES
Tel: +63 83 508-2174
Mob: +63 920 672 2856

2. Mr. Faisal Tumog
Provincial Land Reform Officer
Provincial Agrarian Reform Office
Department of Land Reform
Vence Building, National Highway
9500 General Santos City
PHILIPPINES
Email: info@dar.gov.ph

PLEASE SEND COPIES TO:

1. Governor Miguel Rene A. Dominguez
Provincial Capitol Compound
9501 Alabel, Sarangani Province
PHILIPPINES
Tel: +63 83 508-2165
Fax: +63 83 508-3537 / 2258

2. Ms. Rosalinda Tolosa
Regional Director
Commission on Human Rights (CHR XII)
Sy Compound, Leon Llido Street
Barangay Lagao
9500 General Santos City
PHILIPPINES
Tel/Fax: +63 83 553 8887
Cotabato City extension office
Tel: +63 64 482 0384 / 421 6307

3. Ms. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
J.P. Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila NCR 1005
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +632 2929 3968
Email: pgma@compass.com.ph or opnet@ops.gov.ph

4. Sec. Datu Zamzamin L. Ampatuan, CESO I
NAPC lead convenor
3rd Floor, Agricultural Training Institute (ATI)
Elliptical Road
Diliman, Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Tel.: +63 2 426-5028/ 5019/ 4965/ 4956
Fax: +63 2 927-9838

5. Dr. Nicolas Alipui
Resident Representative
United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF)
31/F Yuchengco Tower, RCBC Plaza
Ayala Ave. cor. Sen. Gil J. Puyat Ave.
Makati City, Metro Manila
PHILIPPINES
Tel: +63 2901 0173
Fax: +63 2901 0195
Email: manila@unicef.org?

6. Mr. Jean Ziegler
UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
Attn: Mr. Carlos Villan Duran
Room 4-066, C/o OHCHR
CH-1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel.: +41 22 917 9300
Fax: +41 22 917 9010
Email: cvillan_duran.hchr@unog.ch, sect.hchr@unog.ch
[Please mark attention Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food]

7. Mr. Anthony Banbury
Regional Director
World Food Programme
Unit No. 2, 7th Floor
Wave Place Building
55 Wireless Road
Lumpini, Patumwan
Bangkok 10330
THAILAND
Fax: +66 2655 4413
Email: Bkk.unescap@un.org, Anthony.banbury@wfp.org


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk -- Hunger Alert
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Document Type :
Hunger Alert Update
Document ID :
HU-10-2005
Countries :
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