By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – “While the toil of workers brings wealth to the country especially to the few rich, the workers who are supposed to receive living wages are being forced to go hungry because of meager wages. It is the Filipino farmers who produce the country’s food, but they themselves are getting more and more deprived.”
These are the messages repeatedly aired by leaders of peasants and workers who marched separately on Tuesday April 17 yet later held a joint program at the foot of Mendiola Bridge (now Chino Roces) near Malacañang.
The peasants led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) marched and started their program at Mendiola when the workers led by the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) arrived marching, too. The KMU members pushed aside the steel barriers and barbed wire that flanked the monument of Chino Roces, so they could march nearer the gates of the Mendiola Peace Arch. The police, meanwhile, formed a barricade behind the gate, with some policemen taunting the protesters and banging their shields with their truncheons.
Workers push aside the steel barrier barring entrance to Mendiola peace arch. (Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
The peasants also pushed aside the steel barrier and barbed wire on their side of Mendiola to join the workers near the Mendiola Peace Arch gates.
Workers, peasants becoming poorer
“The Aquino government, acting on the dictates of IMF-World Bank, has been removing subsidies to agriculture,” said Willy Marbella, peasant leader from Bicol. The peasants group marched to Mendiola to demand subsidies from the government, beginning with raising the government’s buying price for palay (unhusked rice) to P20 ($0.47) per kilo so peasants will not go bankrupt..... MORE