Farmers decry landlessness, large-scale development aggression and troop deployment

Jun. 15, 2010

DAVAO CITY—Militant farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) – Southern Mindanao Region (SMR) held a protest action here in time for the anniversary of the passage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp), this was a day after Benigno “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino, the son of the president who enacted Carp into law 13 years ago was proclaimed by Philippine Congress as the next 15th president.

The irony was not lost to farmer-protesters, who over the last decade slammed the sham land reform of President Corazon Aquino and the resistance of the Cojuangco family to resolve the Hacienda Luisita labor conflict and distribute  their vast lands to thousands of farmer-workers.

“While 70 perent of the Filipino farmers languish in landlessness and poverty, vast tracts of lands are being offered by the Philippine government to foreign capitalists, such as the 729-hectare Mt. Diwalwal, not to mention the wide multinational plantations on banana, pineapple that have undermined our local agricultural industry,” said Pedro Arnado, chairperson of KMP-SMR and chairperson of the SMR chapter of the Anakpawis partylist.

The Carp was extended thru the law ‘Carp extension with reforms’ or Carper. Arnado said this resulted in protests by farmers groups throughout the country for government’s “failure” to realize genuine agrarian reform. “The impoverished  condition  of farmers in Davao region is even more magnified as Mt. Diwalwal, an important source of minerals in the ,region is about to be mined out for the profit of a giant firm which supplies the demands of the imperialist countries,” he added. ”Diwalwal, if managed well and prudently by the state and the people, would be significant to generate funds for national development.”

KMP also expressed guarded hopes about the  plight of farmers in the Aquino administration as laws such as the Carper ensures that agricultural lands in the country remain as properties of rich-landed elites, including the family of the incoming president and multinational companies such as Dole, Del Monte, Nestlé among others.

“Despite the media-created belief that positive change for the Filipino peasantry could be possible in the Aquino administration, we are discouraged about Noynoy’s frequent attempts to disassociate himself from the Hacienda Luisita problem and in refusing to admit the failure of Carp despite the dehumanizing plight it has subjected the majority of farmers,” said Arnado.

Arnado nevertheless dared Aquino to make his own identity and serve the Filipino people.

Recently, the national chapter of the KMP forwarded their demands to the incoming president Aquino in a rally at his Times Street residence. Among these demands are the free distribution of land to farmers; cessation of land grabbing or encroachment of foreign capitalists in farmer and/or Lumad (indigenous) lands; cessation of military operations, deployment and human rights violations against farmer and Lumad communities.

Arnado also challenged Aquino to make his own stand on human rights and demanded the stop of troop deployment in Compostela Valley province, which already has four battalions from Luzon.

“Farmers have always been the indiscriminate targets of military operations and we have increasing cases of human rights violations in the region due to military deployment and their encampment in civilian farmer and indigenous communities,” said Arnado.

For reference:

Pedro Arnado

KMP Chairperson

Mobile number : 0910-226-1000

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