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AFP’s food blockades lead to widespread hunger in Quezon

Economic and food blockades imposed by the 2nd Infrantry Division (ID) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in at least two barangays in General Nakar, Quezon has caused widespread hunger and poverty.

According to Ang Bayan, the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the said blockade was imposed on residents of Barangay Lumutan and Barangay Pagsanghan everal weeks after the 80th Infrantry Battalion (IB), 1st IB and Special Action Forces (SAF) began their military operations in the area last September.

Based on the report, residents of Barangay Lumutan (with a population of at least 1,200) were left with no choice but to eat lucban (pomelo) fruit dueto the limited supply of rice and the lack of available jobs. The shortage was caused mainly by the military personnel constricting rice supplies in the area.

Meanwhile, residents of Barangay Pagsanghan (with a population of at least 1,700) reported that store supplies are almost empty. In Sityo Yukyok, residents were restricted to buying only 5 kilos of rice per family while soldiers and police barred them from engaging in any planting or farm work.

Reports from the ground indicate the climate of fear and terror instigated by the presence of military elements in the community. The 80th IB, 1st IB and SAF units are notorious for human rights violations.

Residents of General Nakar, Quezon have long been targeted by focused military operations due to their opposition to the construction of the Kaliwa-Kanan-Laiban Dam that threatens to displace entire indigenous communities spanning from parts of Rizal to Quezon.

As the AFP continues to impose economic and food blockades in rural areas across the country, an estimated 50.9 million or 44.7% of Filipinos are suffering from moderate to chronic food insecurity according to a survey conducted by the United Nations between 2020 to 2022. According to the UN, a major contributing factor to food insecurity is the import-oriented government approach to basic commodities especially rice. In the past two years, the Philippines has recorded the largest food trade deficit in the Southeast Asian region.

“We used to be able to create and harvest the food and crops we consume,” said Rafael Mariano, chairman emeritus of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines). “Due to imports, our own sufficiency in rice, fish, meat, coffee, garlic and other foods has fallen,” he said.