Farmers on “wheels” dare Noynoy, Gibo to act on land disputes

by Lollipop delos Reyes and Chocolate Moose Fernandez

Manila, Philippines-Organizers of the Central Luzon bound 3-day peasant caravan- the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Anakpawis party list on Monday urged presidential candidates Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro to use the power and influence under their proposal to distribute the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, and the 3,100 hectare agricultural area inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Laur, Nueva Ecija respectively.

Yesterday, KMP and Anakpawis kicked off their three-day 4 vehicle caravan from Quezon City to Central Luzon to press for the immediate and free distribution of the Cojuangco sugar estate and the agricultural lands inside Fort Magsaysay military reservation area.

The caravan’s first stop yesterday was in peasant community in San Miguel, Bulacan, where an issue of land dispute over a 375 hectare agricultural land between some 200 farmers and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte. Today, the second day of Peasant Caravan for Land and Justice will proceed to Cabanatuan City to press DAR to cover 3,100 hectares of land inside Fort Magsaysay and have these distributed for free to some 5,000 peasant families inside the military reservation area for free.

After the short rally in Cabanatuan, the caravan protesters that include Migrante, fisherfolk group Pamalakaya, the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Amihan peasant women federation, Nnara-Youth, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and All UP Workers Union will proceed to Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac City.

“Our position on genuine land reform and free distribution of land is non-negotiable. Noynoy and Gibo should bear in their respective political minds and mindset that agrarian reform is a serious matter that should not be taken for granted. It is a make or break for the two presidential wannabes,” said KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos.

The Supreme Court which issued a temporary restraining order (TRO), which stalled the distribution of sprawling 6,453 hectare, has yet to lift the order. However, the HLI management issued a memorandum to all farm workers inside the Cojuangco estate that farm workers who cultivated already 2,000 hectares of sugar lands for other crops have until Oct.30 to stop cultivation of sugar lands for other crops.

“Sen. Aquino said his share in Hacienda Luisita sugar estate is one part of the 32 controlling shareholders. But that is not the point. The senator is a policy lawmaker and the rallying political figure of Cojuangco and Aquino clans. He is in the position to declare the free distribution of Hacienda Luisita to farmworkers, nothing more, nothing less,” Ramos added.

As for Secretary Teodoro, the KMP official said as highest defense official in the land, Mr. Teodoro is legally and politically empowered to immediately distribute the 3,100 hectare of Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation to landless farmers in Laur, Nueva Ecija. “Actually it is just a signature away from making free land distribution in Fort Magsaysay a social justice reality, but Secretary Teodoro is not doing his assignment,” KMP added.

Meanwhile, farmers, indigenous groups and fisherfolk in Southern Tagalog, especially those affected by the massive flooding in Laguna Lake will conduct their own rural caravan from Rizal and Laguna to call for the immediate dismantling of Napindan Hydraulic Structure (NCHS), and the will also demand the national government, the MWSS and San Miguel Corporation to recall the ambitious Laiban Dam project in Tanay, Rizal. The activity will be sponsored by Kasama-TK, Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog and Save Laguna Lake Movement.

Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog secretary general Pedro Gonzales said the caravan will proceed to the office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), where they will hold a vigil protest.

The following day, Oct.20, a picket at the extension office of Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) at the Rizal provincial capitol in Pasig City will be conducted to press lake authority general manager Edgar Manda to dismantle the 26 year old Napindan flood structure. #

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Filed under agrarian reform, agriculture, disaster

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