Hungry for Food, Hungry for Justice

Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales gives food to Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo and around 40 farmers after they ended Thursday their hunger strike in front of the House of Representatives in Quezon City following an appeal from Cardinal Rosales.

Catholic bishops and farmers ended their hunger strike in front of the House of Representatives Thursday, but saved a sharp criticism for the lawmakers. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said he is disappointed with the way the legislators “trampled” on the rights of the poor farmers. He said it’s sad that most of the lawmakers are not pro-poor and against genuine and sustainable agricultural development.

But Pabillo, who joined the farmers in hunger strike on Monday, vowed their never ending support to the cause of the farmers. He also called on the public to unite with them in beating various forms of human rights abuse in the rural areas.

Around 40 farmers and churchmen seeking for the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) ended their fasting following an appeal from Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales. CARP has been the vehicle to help poor farmers obtain their own land.

Rosales assured them that the Catholic Church leaders will bring their cause to legislators. Rosales said it was time to end the farmers’ sacrifices as he expressed concern over their health conditions. “Please end this fasting. You might get sick. We will be your voice. We will talk to the legislators,” he said.

On Wednesday, the last session day of the year, Congress passed Joint Resolution 19 extending the CARP but only for six more months and excluding compulsory acquisition. Rosales then led in giving out bowls of porridge and water to the hunger strikers, most of them have not eaten for 18 days.

Pabillo, who chairs the National Secretariat for Social Action- Justice and Peace (NASSA) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), also shared the meal. “We will…monitor the Congress, the church will continue to help the farmers,” Rosales assured the farmers at their small camp outside the Batasan Pambansa complex.

The Xaverian Missionaries, through Fr. Archie Casey, has been supporting and accompanying the farmers in their pursuit for land given to them by law more than thirty years ago but never materializing. In the video below, the Bishop is speaking in Tagalog, but as the camera pans around, you will see Fr. Casey who has white hair and a beard, together with other religious supporting the farmers.

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