by Jennica Diaz and Janika Tiempo, Davao Today interns
DAVAO CITY – Thousands of people who marched yesterday here to support the resumption of peace talks braved the hunger and lack of money back home.
And many come from outside this city, like 56 year-old Bala Kanman from Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat and Samuel Solutan from Makilala in Cotabato province.
Like the rest, Kanman marched the downtown streets here, from Magsaysay Park to Rizal Park, on Tuesday, June 28. She said she didn’t care experiencing hunger to show that she supports the call for peace and for genuine change.
Life was hard for their family whose daily sustenance comes only from planting cassava on a land they do not own, she said.
“Gamay ra man pud siya nga lupa, naa sa bukid (It’s a small piece of land in the mountains),”she said.
“Lisod paigoon ang gamay na ma-ani namo, panalagsa ra mi makakaon og sakto sa usa ka adlaw (It’s difficult to make do with what we have harvested. It is rare that we get to have enough food to eat),” Kanman told Davao Today on Wednesday, June 29. Kanman has four children.
During dry season, their family’s food supply is also affected and they tried to find ways to look for another alternative just to feed their empty stomachs.
Like most parents, Kanman wishes to send her children to school, but she said, from their kind of living, money won’t be enough for her children’s education.
“Gamay raman among makuha sa pagtanom ug kamote, usahay naa mi gulayan pero dili makaya (I only get small profit from planting cassava. We also plant vegetables, but still it’s not enough),” she said adding that sometimes, their harvest is just enough to cover their meals for the day.
They can’t even afford to buy salt.
One-legged man walks to support peace
With only one leg, Solutan walked his way to join the rally.
Solutan is from Makilala, Cotabato province, a town some 115 kilometers from Davao City and which was among the areas hit by the recent dry spell recently.
Solutan works as a rubber tapper. But he said his earnings of P300 to P600 a week is not enough.
“There were times that we are not called for duty,” he said.
Aside from their unstable work in the farm, Solutan said they are affected by the military operations in their community.
Whenever encounters between the government forces and rebels occur, Solutan said he and his wife have to stay at home for a week and wait for it to end.
Within those days, they only eat rootcrops and sweet potatoes from their small garden.
He said he is hopeful with Duterte’s promise on peace talks.
This scenario made him see how it is to be really poor and really scared of the armed conflict.
The ongoing unrest of farmers in the countryside is one of the issues which the incoming administration pledged to resolve.
The exploratory talks held on June 14-15 between the government and the National Democratic Front resulted to the signing of the Joint Statement where both panels agreed to resume the formal talks next month.
As Kanman and Solutan, along with other farmers, marched yesterday, they hope to express their support to the resumption of peace talks and the agenda that farmers presented to the negotiating panel representatives of the NDF and the government.
After the two-day peace forum held in the city, Kanman and Solutan will be staying in Davao City Recreation Center until Thursday, June 30, the day of Duterte’s inauguration in Malacanang.
One of their demands is for farmers like them to have their own land to till. (davaotoday.com)