Militarization threatens food security — women’s group

TABUK, Kalinga — As part of Innabuyog’s campaign on Land, Food and Rights, it launched a series of community workshops all over the Cordillera region to assess the food crisis, its impact to women, coping community actions and recommendations for government.

Done with the Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center (CWEARC) the recent workshop that took place in Kalinga identified militarization as one of the burdens and a threat to food security on top of the unbearable impact of the worsening economic crisis.

Women whose major role is to ensure food for their families have much to say on the effects of militarization. A case in point is the experience of Ag-agama women, who recalled the brutal killing of their village mate Kagawad Rocky Aboli by members of the 21st in July 2008.

Such incident has left a situation of fear among the residents especially women and children. During military operations, community members are afraid to go to their farms for fear of being suspected as rebels.

Our swidden farms were left untended and we do not know what happened to the legumes that we have just harvested,” Manang Betty lamented.

Besides the worry of where to get food for the next meal, they also fear the safety of their husbands and children.

Even the school teachers worry much for the safety of their pupils such that they advised their pupils not to go to school especially when there is a helicopter flying in the vicinity. Helicopters are used to clear the area by strafing before landing.

This system of clearing indeed endangers anyone within the vicinity making everyone a target including animals and other properties.

Manang Betty added the community does not need the presence of military in their community. She said they are peace-loving people and they have a high respect for one another.

“Sometimes the military would say that they came to teach school children but we do not need them because we can actually teach our own children,” Manang Betty said.

Aware of its heavy impact to their livelihood, women participants continued to call on the Arroyo government to stop militarization in the countrysides. What they reiterated is viable economic development and social services that will ease our burden.

Women leaders promised to intensify their campaign against militarization, among other issues and concerns they have to face. At the same time they have to strengthen and develop new ways to increase food production to cope with the worsening economic crisis. # Virgie Dammay (NorDis)


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