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Hunger strike farmers collapse

Protesters taken ill after two days

Hunger strike farmers collapse
Protesting farmers stage a "die-in" (Photo by Vincent Go) reporter, Manila

December 19, 2012

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A group of 12 hunger striking farmers were rushed to hospital today, complaining that they felt weak and had difficulty breathing.

The farmers were among 56 landless peasants who started a hunger strike in Manila on Monday. The group, from Negros, Batangas and Bukidnon provinces, had planned an indefinite hunger strike at the headquarters of the Agrarian Reform Department to demand immediate land distribution.

The remaining strikers, who are continuing their fast, staged a "die-in" this morning in front the agrarian reform building, blocking traffic in the area.

A spokesman said they will remain steadfast in their hunger strike while waiting for President Benigno Aquino to meet with them. The presidential palace, however, has remained silent on the issue.

The protesting farmers are demanding the immediate distribution of 17,160 hectares of land which they say is pledged to them under the government's agrarian reform program, and the dismissal of Agrarian Refom Secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes.

The farmers claim that Delos Reyes had lowered this year’s distribution target of 260,000 hectares to 180,000. In spite of this, only 49,349 hectares of land has been distributed as of December 13.

In Negros Occidental alone, only 1,784 hectares have been distributed to farmers from a government target of 54,172 hectares.

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