Still No Genuine Reform in Philippines
Landless Peasants to Swarm Rural Agencies in 24 Towns and Cities
MANILA -- Militant peasants announced a week of marching, occupations of local agrarian agencies and other protests across the country in protest of "CARP-assisted" land grabbing abetted by President Joseph Estrada.
In a media forum, farmers and fishermen's groups from the Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog also announced simultaneous camp outs and marches in Manila and not less than 24 town halls as far south as Puerto Princesa and Cebu City, involving more than 20,000 protesters marking the 26th anniversary of Presidential Decree 27 or the 'land reform' under Marcos.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) noted that peasants continue to have nothing but their organized strength to rely on in defending their rights to land, and refuse to be misled by DAR secretary Horacio Morales' empty boasts of aiming to distribute more than 4 million hectares of private lands in four more years of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
"Across the last 25 years, only 1.4 million hectares are private lands tokenly transferred to tenants, and 1.3 million are leasehold or non-land transfer schemes and reforestation contracts of public lands leased out by the DENR. Many are still being repossessed by landlords in cases crawling in courts, quasi-judicial and administrative bodies, but DAR keeps dressing up the figures," Mariano said.
He said paper awards cancelled by DAR, DARAB, Malacaņang and the Supreme Court in the controversial cases of Sumilao and Central Mindanao University in Musuan (Bukidnon); Hacienda Looc (Nasugbu, Batangas); Mamburao (Mindoro); Montalban, Rizal; and San Jose del Monte, Bulacan; and many more are registered to give a semblance that CARP is working. "The new tack in producing five-figure additions by Morales and Estrada involves having their godfather Danding Cojuanco announce stock options similar to the Hacienda Luisita scam, which are of course only to expand his agribusiness investments and avoid sequestration."
For his part, Rodolfo Sambajon, chair of the fisherfolk movement Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) demanded the scrapping of CARL together with the new Fisheries Code of 1998 and the Mining Act of 1995 which the group fears will disguise the reconcentration of 8 million hectares of communal uplands, marshes and foreshorelands unto corporate monopolies, on top of the more than 7.6 million currently in private hands.
Fisherfolk from Batangas will encamp at the DENR tonight to exposed the inaction of the agency in stopping the pollution caused by alcohol distilleries in Balayan Bay. They will be joined by the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) in a 5,000-man march on Mendiola.
Local chapters of KMP and Pamalakaya will picket agency offices and local governments in Calapan, Mamburao, Pinamalayan, Roxas, Nasugbu, Lucena City, Lian, Calaca, Lemery, Rosario, Batangas City, San Juan, Gumaca, Infanta, Puerto Princesa, Catanauan, Antipolo, Sta. Cruz, San Pablo City, Calauag, Balayan and Cebu City.
JOINT STATEMENT OF THE PEASANT, FISHERFOLK AND PEASANT SUPPORT NETWORKS ON 8 YEARS OF CALABARZON AND 26 YEARS OF PD 27 by KMP / PAMALAKAYA / KASAMA-TK/ AMGL/ NNARA / NACFAR / BINHI / IRDF / NNARA Youth / SENTRA
If there is any place that the restoration not only of Marcos cronies to power but more so of the worsening of extreme feudal and semi-feudal exploitation and fascist repression are intensely experienced and felt, it is the rural countrysides. Everywhere the people try to survive by fishing and farming, Joseph Estrada's pro-poor and pro-peasant rhetoric is exposed to be as disgraceful as his attack on labor in the cities.
His DAR secretary Horacio Morales has glorified Danding Cojuanco as his godfather of agrarian reform in exchange for the tiny portions from the crony's vast landholdings. Morales can only make CARP more export-oriented as dictated by the World Bank rather than resolve the fundamental problem of landlessness, his deception hidden behind his armed escorts, cold and irritated with the demands of peasants crying at the gates of his airconditioned lair in Manila.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, by the power of the Mining and NIPAS Acts, has converted 142,000 hectares in Southern Tagalog, 67,000 hectares in Cebu to mining, and hundreds of thousands more in Negros, Mindanao and the Cordillera to quarrying, commercial agroforestry, dams and tourism and industrial parks. The Department of Agriculture will implement the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act and the Fisheries Code to allow local and foreign monopolies to further claim fishery areas and expand plantations for export crop production, while destroying the livelihoods and jobs of millions.
Pretending to champion for the human rights of Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim, Estrada ordered the Department of National Defense and the Department of Interior of Local Governments to criminalize the peasant struggle for land. The armed forces complement the private security goons of the landlords in harassing the peasant masses, often leading into arson of crops and property, illegal arrests, abductions, sickness and injury, summary executions, food blockades, forced evictions and evacuations. Victims turned up dead in Mindoro and South Quezon or jailed on criminal cases in Batangas. Large formations encamp and conduct mock battles in Hacienda Looc, in Pampanga and Mindoro. DND chief Orlando Mercado praised his soldiers for jobs well done.
The US-Estrada regime is clearly anti-poor, anti-peasant and anti-democratic. Estrada, drunk with the mandate bestowed upon him by Danding Cojuanco to be the chief political representative of the ruling classes, will always defend the landlord, compradors, multinational corporations and bureaucrat cronies. Landlessness and militarization will intensify given his total puppetry to imperialist domination. Technocrats take back their contempt for the dropout they scorned only three months ago and now awed by his newfound genius for his outspoken devotion to globalization and trade liberalization.
The peasants, the fisherfolk, the indigenous peoples, threatened with wholesale displacement, are fighting back. Long ago we refused to be deceived by token reforms promised by anti-peasant and farcical PD 27 and CARP, we stayed on our lands and stopped the bulldozers and army trucks with our organized strength and firm determination year after year, with the support of other sectors in the media, the church, the academe and pro-people parliamentarians and public servants and other exploited and oppressed sectors. We struggled to reduce land costs and won gains in our own land reform initiatives.
We have learned not to be fooled by the false promises of CARP, CALABARZON, MARILAQUE, MIMAROPA, Pampanga Delta and Central Luzon Development Projects, Philippines 2000, APEC, GATT-WTO and the Asean Free Trade Area, and we will not fall for Jeep ni Erap and Makamasa. We have also learned the lesson that only we can restore the lands taken from us by foreign and local monopolies if we only sustain our resolve to bit by bit weaken the feudal power of the landlords and their imperialist backers.
This week, across town and city halls of Batangas, Laguna, Quezon, Mindoro, Palawan, Rizal, Cebu and Metro Manila, we will once again launch the struggle against imperialist plunder, feudal exploitation and fascist repression. We will carry forward with the struggle of the broad masses for genuine land reform and national industrialization.
What do you think will happen in the Philippines? Any positive change?
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