DAVAO CITY, Philippines—As the fourth round of peace talks draws near between government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, a militant lawmaker urged farmers on Monday to rally behind the working draft on Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms.
Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said CASER, which was drafted by the NDFP, is pushing for the welfare of the country’s poor farmers.
“We urge traditional farmers’ organization, irrigators associations, municipal, city andprovincial farmers associations and rural-based groups to support the NDFP’s CASER as it sincerely pushes for the welfare of poor peasants in the country, as well as, genuine development in the countryside,” Casilao said.
NDFP’s CASER has been viewed as the “heart and soul” of the GRP-NDFP peace talks because it contains contentious issues such as the implementation of the genuine agrarian reform,among others.
The working draft was premised on the country’s state which is “semifeudal and semicolonial” and ‘thus needs genuine agrarian reform, national industrialization and a freeand independent foreign trade and monetary policy for national development.”
According to Casilao, CASER pushes for “free distribution of land” to farmers as stated on Section 7, of Part I, Declaration of Principles.
Specifically, it stated that “the Parties realize the need for immediate common and separate/unilateral measures to undertake agrarian reform in order to dismantle land monopoly and to distribute land to the tillers for free.”
Apart from the free distribution of land, CASER also promotes rural industrialization as stated in Article X, of Agrarian Reform and Rural Development under Part III, Developing the National Economy.
Under Section 1, it states “the provision of more farm technicians, agricultural credit to thetillers, post-harvest facilities, marketing agencies, irrigation systems, and farm-to-market roads shall be an integral part of the agrarian reform program.”
With this, Casilao urged officials of local government units in the provinces to support the draft agreement as he also emphasized that the socio-economic reforms agenda is an opening for fundamental reforms in the country and to address the root causes of the armed conflict involving the New People’s Army.
“Majority of the NPA are farmers who were victimized by displacement, feudal and semi-feudal forms of exploitation, driven to bear arms to fight oppression and exploitation,”Casilao said.
“The peace talks remain to serve as an opportunity towards a just and lasting peace in the country, an NDFP-version [of the] agreement on socio-economic reforms will certainly benefit the rural population that is more than half of the country’s, along with, we call for a stop to continued killing of farmers and militarization of communities in the countryside,” Casilao added.(davaotoday.com)