Contributed by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan chapter in Southern Tagalog
Calamba City, Laguna- Militant groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Southern Tagalog (BAYAN-ST) and Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK) are all-hands preparing to conduct the nationwide protest march called “Pambansang Lakbayan ng Anakpawis para sa Lupa at Katarungan”.
The Lakbayan kicked-off today in Davao City and is expected to merge with the Southern Tagalog marchers on January 17 in Lucena City. The 10-day epic protest will culminate in January 22 in time with the 23rd commemorating year of the Mendiola Massacre and calling for the long-deprived justice of the farmer victims.
In 1987, farmer protesters were brutally murdered by Malacañang security at Mendiola bridge while decrying the rampant landlessness during Corazon Aquino’s regime. According to Imelda Lacandazo KASAMA-TK Spokesperson, 23 years later, farmers continue to experience these kinds of state atrocities.
“The basic problem of farmers on agrarian reform is still neglected by the government with as low as 19 to 21 percent being left from their produce because of high land rent. Under the Arroyo dictatorship, land-grabbing has even been legitimized with the enactment of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Bill with Extension and Reforms,” Lacandazo stressed.
Southern Tagalog marchers, considered as “Lakbayan veterans” greet the Arroyo government with a bash of strong protests early this new year. At least 1,500 delegates from Southern Tagalog will march the streets to reach the National Capital Region, enduring the heat of the sun, drench of the rain or even overcome blockades by police and military forces.
Less than a week before the Vizayas and Mindanao marchers will set foot to Southern Tagalog soil, build-up activities are already raring to go. On the list of activities include the filing of Human Rights Violations to the Commission on Human Rights due to the surging number of victims of areas where Civil Military Operations and Urban Militarization projects are posed.
“All sectors of Southern Tagalog are united with the peasants’ struggle as Arroyo’s grand plans such as the CALABARZON project and the R1 Coastal Road extension has not only tormented the farmers but also fisher folk, workers and urban poor communities,” Christine Macabetcha BAYAN-ST Deputy Secretary General said.
The R1 Coastal Road extension in Cavite is estimated to displace at least 100,000 families of the province depriving the residents from their homes and source of livelihood. Local protest centers and camp-outs will also be set-up in at least 10 key areas in the provinces of Southern Tagalog which will include a protest camp to be situated in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform on January 18.
“This regime shall expect more intensified protest until the end of its term and will serve as a warning and prelude to the people’s anger because of the upcoming dirty elections,” Macabetcha ended