“Let us learn from history that past and present presidents came from the landlord class, they are all the same and not a single one served the interests of the farmers, as wells as Filipino masses.” – Fernando Hicap, Anakpawis partylist Representative
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – “No more term extension!”
This is the call of furious farmers from different provinces around Metro Manila as they once again marched to Chino Roces Bridge (former Mendiola Bridge) on Tuesday, Oct. 21 to show their disgust over the government’s “bogus land reform program.”
Oct. 21 is the 42nd year of Presidential Decree No. 27, the Marcos dictatorship’s Land Reform Act, which distributed Certificates of Land Transfer to tenant-farmers. On the same day, farmers also culminated week-long nationwide mass actions demanding genuine land reform and opposing President Benigno S. Aquino III’s “creeping dictatorship” through Charter Change and attempts at term extension.
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) chairman Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano said, “We can enumerate a thousand and one reasons why Aquino deserves to be ousted. He should be removed from Malacañang. We cannot allow even a day of term extension for Aquino. The longer he stays in power, the worse it’s going to be for Filipinos.”
Farmers from Hacienda Dolores in Porac, Pampanga, from Tungkong Mangga, San Jose Del Monte, Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, and Hacienda Looc in Batangas joined the protested action. The peasant group said protest actions were also held in Nueva Vizcaya, Madela and Cabaroguis in Quirino, Isabela, Cagayan Valley-Tuguegarao, Cebu City, Tagbilaran City, Bacolod City, Iloilo City, Davao City, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Pagadian and General Santos City.
‘Bogus’ land reform, massive militarization
Romy Cayao, president of KMP in Southern Tagalog said farmers continue to remain poor, backward and landless, from PD 27, to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) of President Corazon Aquino, up to the Carp Extension with Reforms (CARPER) under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration.
“At present, the farmers’ certificate of land ownership award (Cloa), certificate of land transfer (CLT) and Emancipation Patents (EP) were all cancelled. The government’s agrarian reform program only hastens the land grabbing by big corporations such as Henry Sy’s Manila South Coast Development,” Cayao said in an interview with Bulatlat.com.
Cayao cited the case of the 8,600 hectare-Hacienda Looc, in Nasugbu, Batangas where Sitio Cueva was covered by the government’s Nasugbu-Magallanes road project. He said the affected farmers have Cloas but the local government and the Department of Agrarian Reform did not recognize these, and instead said the land is owned by Henry Sy.
“The farmers did not benefit from the government’s land reform program. What’s worse, state security forces are used to protect these big landlords to protect the land that is not theirs,” he said. He said the military and Sy’s private army were deployed to Haciendal Looc.
In April, Cayao said state security forces forcibly arrested farmer leader Armando Lemita, the spokesperson of Ugnayan ng mga Mamamayan Laban sa Pangwawasak ng Kalupaan ng Hacienda Looc (Umalpas-Ka), his wife and daughter. They were detained for a month.
More than 300 farmers from Southern Luzon joined the Oct. 21 march to Mendiola, Cayao said.
Farmers of Tungkong Mangga in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan where the MRT-7 project will be built also decried the militarization of their communities. Abelino Palo, 55, whose main source of livelihood is from the land, has experienced harassment from the state security forces and the private army of Araneta who has been claiming their land.
“The Aranetas are offering us relocation and money just to leave the land but I will never accept that.” He said, like in Hacienda Luisita, their crops are being destroyed by a private army.
According to KMP, more than 300 hectares of productive agricultural lands will be affected by the MRT-7 project, the main proponent of which is the Universal LRT Corporation (ULC), a consortium of San Miguel Corporation, chaired by Cojuangco, and the Zamora Group.
“The MRT-7’s inter-modal depot, the real estate and commercial development component will be built over productive agricultural lands being grabbed by Araneta Properties owned by Gregorio Araneta III and ULC. Real estate giants such as SM Lands and Ayala Land reportedly expressed interests in the real estate and commercial component of the MRT-7 Project,” KMP said in a statement.
No to charter change
Farmers also slammed moves to amend the 1987 Constitution as Aquino’s maneuver to extend his term and to further open up the country’s resources to foreign companies.
Mariano said Aquino’s charter change maneuver is primarily aimed at the sell-out of the country’s patrimony and for agriculture liberalization. It will further intensify land grabbing, widespread land use conversion, and foreign control of vast tracts of land nationwide. “Cha-cha and increased militarization are strong signs of Aquino’s dictatorial tendencies,” Mariano added.
“As if it is not enough that foreign multinational corporations like Del Monte, Dole Phils., Sumifru, among others, are controlling tens of thousands of hectares of agricultural and forest lands and plantations in Mindanao, the government still wants to open public lands throughout the country to 100 percent foreign ownership,” he said.
Mariano cited that Del Monte controls more than 64,000 hectares of banana and pineapple plantations in Bukidnon and Agusan del Norte while Dole Philippines and its subsidiaries control over 100,000 hectares of lands used as plantations in different Mindanao provinces including South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Saranggani, Davao del Norte, Bukidnon, and Compostela Valley.
“These companies are not investing their profits to help modernize agriculture and industries in the country. Instead, they automatically bring their profits to their US-based mother companies,” he said.
Mariano said even without Cha-cha, foreign-owned plantations for bio-ethanol production are sprawled across Isabela and Cagayan Valley. In Mindanao and Negros, banana and palm oil plantation expansion projects are displacing thousands of farmers and indigenous people’s communities. “What more if Cha-cha is passed? Millions of farmers will become aliens in our own motherland.”
‘Enact genuine agrarian reform bill now!’
Cayao said the only solution to their decade long struggle is the enactment of the genuine agrarian reform bill.
“Carp, Carper is a law that was made by the ruling class. The Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (Garb) or House Bill 252 is a law that was made by us and for us farmers,” Cayao said.
HB 374 https://www.scribd.com/doc/36450961/HB-374-Genuine-Agrarian-Reform-Bill mandates free distribution of land to farmers. Under this bill, all landless farmers and farmers with canceled Cloa, CLT and EP will all be beneficiaries of Garb.
Zen Soriano, chairwoman of Amihan said farmers – men, women and the youth — should unite to further the struggle for genuine agrarian reform. “The Filipino people have many problems – from putting food on the table to education of the youth. Some may have gone numb as they face innumerable problems. But we have to liberate ourselves – the poor who have been continuously oppressed by the ruling elite.”
“Let us learn from history that past and present presidents came from the landlord class, they are all the same and not a single one served the interests of the farmers, as wells as Filipino masses,” said Fernando Hicap, Anakpawis partylist Representative.
“We should remove ourselves from their (ruling factions’) political backbiting, and instead advance our democratic interests and challenge them to implement genuine and fundamental reforms in the country,” Hicap said.