CDO artists protest lack of aid for El Nino-hit farmers

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 01 2016 01:16 PM | Updated as of May 01 2016 11:58 PM

Artists in Cagayan de Oro denounce the violent dispersal of hungry farmers and lumad in Kidapawan City, Cotabato. Shiela Joy Labrador, ABS-CBN News

CAGAYAN DE ORO -- Two local artists staged a performance art in Cagayan De Oro City on Sunday to condemn the lack of government aid for farmers affected by the ongoing El Niño phenomenon.

Clad in the attire of a farmer, artist Charlo Yare acted like he was swallowing bullets at the Magsaysay Park. Nicholas Aca, meanwhile, covered his whole body and face with mud.

Both artists acted in a tired and sorrowful manner, eliciting an emotional response from the audience.

Yare and Aca said their performance is a criticism of the violent dispersal of protesting farmers in Kidapawan, North Cotabato last April 1, which left two farmers dead and scores wounded.

(READ: 2 dead, more than 100 injured in Kidapawan clash)

The artists appealed to the government to immediately release its promised aid for the farmers who have lost their harvest to the extreme heat.

Accompanied by militant groups Kabataan and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Yare and Aka also took their protest to the city market.

The El Niño dry spell has gripped the country since December, hitting food production, particularly in the conflict-wracked Mindanao, which is home to the country's poorest and where more than half of the population is reliant on agriculture.

The Department of Agriculture said that agricultural damage from January to March this year has amounted to P2.1 billion.

The current El Niño has been classified by state weather bureau as "strong."

The last time the country suffered from a similar "strong" El Niño was from 2009 to 2010, during which an estimated P17.4 billion in agricultural production was lost and more than half a million hectares of agricultural land got affected.

Weather bureau PAGASA earlier warned that more provinces will suffer drought or dry spell in April. -- Report from Shiela Labrador, ABS-CBN News

Gov't urged: Mull national state of calamity due to El Niño