Womens’ Groups Slam Arroyo’s Inaction Towards El Niño

News Release
06 March 2010

Women farmers and urban poor women joined forces today as they braved the heat and marched to Mendiola to condemn Arroyo government’s lack of action in addressing the severe effects of El Niño.

“The so-called P1.7 billion calamity fund released by the government failed to reach the people especially the poor peasant. Given the president’s infamous corruption record we fear that our farmers and the rest of the marginalized sectors who truly need the said calamity fund would never benefit from it,” expressed Sheila Ferrer, third nominee of Gabriela Women’s Party and chairperson of GABRIELA NCR.

Ka Lita Mariano, spokesperson of AMIHAN National Federation of Peasant Women, lamented that farmers all over the country are now losing their crops due to extreme drought and non-irrigation of rice fields.

Mariano asked, “Where is the 1.7 billion-peso emergency fund? The government’s promise of irrigation, fertilizers and seeds are all lies. At such an early stage the state has failed to protect the people from the effects of El Niño.”

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Mariano added that women are stakeholders on the issue of El Nino given that 70% of the labor force in the rice and corn agricultural production in the Philippines are women.

“El Niño will further cause massive hunger. In 2009 alone, Social Weather Survey data shows that 26.4 million Filipino households suffer from hunger. Given the role of the women in the family as the ones who ensure that there is food on the table daily, this crisis burdens them the most.

The Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration is neither prepared nor equipped to protect the people from the effects of natural disasters as we have seen in the case of Ondoy and Pepeng last year,” Ferrer stressed. “During disasters the responsibility of looking after the condition of the entire family falls primarily on the woman. At these times, the woman has to be the tower of strength for her family.”

AMIHAN also slammed the government’s proposed solution of importation of rice to buffer the impact of drought on rice production. The organization said the government should now focus on providing the farmers immediate relief as acquisition of motorized water-pumps, pipes and tubes, tractors, hand tractors, farm tools and carabaos; fertilizers and seeds.

In commemoration of the centennial of the International Working Women’s Day, thousands of peasant women will join the women’s militant march to Mendiola to assert their specific demand for immediate emergency measures that will genuinely address the impact of El Niño on Filipino farmers and the rest of the nation.

Sheila Ferrer, third nominee of Gabriela Women’s Party and Vice-Chairperson of GABRIELA

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