A unity call for peace

CHEERS TO the Manila Bulletin for focusing on an underrepresented sector in the BBL discussions severely affected by the continuing clashes: the farmers in the region.

“Thousands of Muslim, Christian and Lumad farmers have joined the call for the completion of the government peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), expressing fears that their sacrifices and resources in the new farming industry will become fruitless if hostilities erupt anew in Mindanao,” the Bulletin wrote Feb. 21 (“Maguindanao farmers urge passage of BBL”)

The group represents 309,216 oil palm and rubber tree farmers who live and work in 36 towns of Maguindanao.

The report also echoed the farmers’ sentiment against the government’s “overemphasis” on the aftermath of the Mamasapano clash to the detriment of the plight of majority stakeholders such as farmers, traders, children, and women.

A local provincial agricultural officer told the Bulletin that Maguindano would become ARMM’s oil palm capital by 2017 if the current oil palm propagation project is not affected by armed conflicts. The province currently ranks second to Basilan when it comes to the number of rubber tree plantations.