DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Farmers from various organizations in Southern Mindanao staged a protest in front of the office of Department of Agrarian Reform in Region XI (DAR-XI) at Catalunan, Pequeño in this city to slam the government’s failure to enact a genuine agrarian reform program that will render justice to farmers who have long been chained by landlessness, tenancy and poverty.
The protest was a joint effort between the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Southern Mindanao (KMP-SMR) and the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries One Movement (AOM) and was staged days ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Both KMP-SMR and AOM claimed the CARP program of the government is a complete failure and as it missed the mark in solving the foremost problems of the farmers in the country.
“CARP was such a big bogus for the farmers! Even if the program was extended as CARPER, but as long as big landlords such as the Floirendos, Lorenzos, and Tuazons still persists its hocus-pocus collaboration with government agencies like DAR, there can never be genuine agrarian reform for poor Filipino farmers,” said Huel Hoyle, chairperson of AOM.
DAR Secretary John Castriciones was at the DAR-XI office spearheading a dialogue when the protest was done by the farmers.
The group also called on the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to initiate reforms to address the problems of the farmers.
KMP-SMR chairperson Pedro Arnado said the farmers are demanding for genuine agrarian reform, a program they believe is effective to attend to the widespread landlessness and rural poverty being suffered by farmers.
“The farmers demand genuine land reform with the free land distribution that will give justice to the farmers who feed the nation,” Arnado pointed out.
In the midst of DAR’s failure to through its CARP program, farmers are now mobilizing themselves to win back their lands for agricultural development.
KMP-SMR and AOM dubbed the initiatives of the farmers as “balik-tikad” or “bungkalan activities” that are initiated through human installations and collective farming.
They said the latest case of such initiative took place in Tagum City where members of Nagkahiusang Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. (NARBAI) occupied as 36-hectare land.
NARBAI farmers, since January 26 this year have been farming collectively the said land area.
Passage of the genuine agrarian reform and asserting the rights of farmers through “bungkalan activities” are among the issues raised by thousands of farmers during the national day of protest on Friday last week.
Stop political killings
KMP-SMR and AOM also urged the government to take concrete actions to end the killings of farmers, particularly their leaders.
“As the farmers assert their rights to land and life and fight for resistance against land grabbing, they become targets of extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests, harassments and other forms of human rights violations perpetrated by the state,” the group said in a statement they released on Friday.
They added that most of the victims of political killings in recent months are farmer leaders.
These political killings, they noted, took place under the regime of President Duterte.
Data released by KMP revealed that 25 farmer leaders were already gunned down nationwide, 60 of the cases happened in southern Mindanao.
The killings of farmers in Mindanao, the group added, are intensified under Duterte’s watch with the continuing imposition of martial law.
The group cited the case of Beverly Geronimo, 27, a peasant woman and active member of Tabing Guangan Farmers Association (TAGUAFA).
Geronimo was killed by suspected members of 25th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Salvacion, Trento, Agusan del Sur last May 26.
Her daughter also sustained gunshot wounds but survived the attack, KMP added.
“Duterte’s tyranny and fascist antics should stop. His killing machine, Oplan Kapayaan (Operation Plan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines) and Martial Law in Mindanao should end,” Arnado exclaimed.
On the resumption of peace talks
The group also challenged the Administration of Duterte to be sincere and without any preconditions to resume the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) which is deemed expected later this month.
In the same statement, Arnado noted: “The next round of formal talks between the two panels are very significant for the farmers and of the Filipino people as it will tackle and forge agreements for socio-economic reforms. This is the meat of all the substantive agenda in the peace process of GRP and NDFP on the resolution of armed conflict and attainment of just and lasting peace in our country.”
The socio-economic reforms, Arnado added, includes the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) which has two major provisions, to include the Agrarian Reform and Rural Development and the National Industrialization and Economic Development.
“These are very important for the relief of farmer’s plight for land and a big leap of progress for our nation’s economy according to KMP,” Arnado said. (davaotoday.com)