Monthly Archives: January 2010

Militants slam new DENR chief for evading talks on Laiban dam

By Chocolate Moose Fernandez

Manila, Philippines-Militant groups opposed to the ambitious
P 52-billion Laiban dam project in Tanay, Rizal slammed newly appointed Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Eleazar Quinto for evading a dialogue with their leaders last Thursday.

Leaders of Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog, Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Kasama-TK), Anakpawis party list and Katribu party list were scheduled to meet Sec. Quinto for the dialogue but the new secretary was not present prompting activists to temporarily blocked the entrance and exit gates of the environment office last week.

Pamalakaya vice-chair Salvador France said the letter urging Sec. Quinto to face the opposition groups to Laiban dam project was delivered on Jan.12, about 10 days before the scheduled meeting. The letter was received by the DENR receiving section on the same day.

“Secretary Quinto is evading the issue which is a matter of life and death to affected fisherfolk, farmers and indigenous communities. For the information of Mr. Quinto, Laiban dam project will directly displace 20,000 upland villagers,” France stressed.

The Pamalakaya leader added: “It seems to us that the P 52-B Laiban dam project between MWSS and San Miguel Corporation is a done deal and Sec. Quinto is compelled by the appointing authority to follow the anti-people multi-billion project. That’s the reason for the snub.”

France said the P 52 billion dam project was part of the exchange deal between Mrs. Arroyo and SMC chair Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, the group added.

Last week, officials of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) announced that the deal will with SMC will be sealed not later than March. MWSS administrator Diosdado Jose Allado said the government targets to award the project to largest food and beverage conglomerate upon the submission of necessary requirements.

Pamalakaya said to sow disunity and terror among indigenous people, the Armed Forces of the Philippines had stepped up its recruitment for Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) among the Dumagat and Remontado allocating 20 percent of its personnel for the indigenous peoples. The latter have long denounced this military scheme, saying CAFGU recruitment sows disunity among them.

Most villagers however continue to refuse joining the CAFGU believing that they are just being used by the military as a cannon fodder or shields for their counter-insurgency operations.

Military atrocities in the Southern Tagalog region peaked in 2000-2001 when 11 military battalions were deployed in the area, causing the displacement of about 220 indigenous families living in four provinces, including Rizal and Quezon.

The dam, when finished, will provide an average 1.89 billion liters of water a day for some 5.5 million residents of Metro Manila and surrounding provinces by 2015. The project will also include a hydropower plant to supply 25 megawatts of electricity. #

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Farmer marchers say DAR is joking on 200K hectare target for land distribution in 2010

by Kaka Esteban and Trinity Biglang Awa

Manila, Philippines- “It is a joke and a bad one.”

Peasant leaders of the 10-day Pambansang Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para Sa Lupa at Katarungan on Thursday slammed the announcement of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) that agrarian reform agency is ready to distribute some 200,000 hectares of land to qualified farmer beneficiaries this year under the extended Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Reforms (CARPer) with the return of the compulsory acquisition scheme in the five year extended land reform law.

In a press statement, Lakbayan organizers Anakpawis party list, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) said Agrarian reform secretary Nasser Pangandaman is joking and treating landless farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries into an outrageous roller coaster ride when he announced DAR target for distribution in 2010.

“Secretary Pangandaman is the point person of landgrabbers and the land speculators in and out of Malacanang and in and out of the agrarian reform department. His statement suggests false hopes and political blackmail rolled into. He wants to convince landless farmers that everything is ok under CARPer which is not true,” said KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos and Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente in a joint statement.

In its website (www.dar.gov.ph) the agrarian reform agency expressed optimism that the department will attain 200,000 hectare land distribution target for 2010 due largely to the restoration of compulsory acquisition as one of the modes of acquiring lands under Republic Act 9700 or the CARPer law. He said the increase in the budget of DAR will hasten the distribution of land to agrarian reform beneficiaries.

“First the target is too low compared to the more than 6 million hectares of prime agricultural lands concentrated in the hands of landed monopolies like big landlords, private corporations and multinational plantations and military landlords in AFP military reservations,” the Lakbayan leaders stressed.

KMP’s Ramos said DAR never mentioned that while the compulsory acquisition (CA) as a mode was restored in CARPer law, it evaded citing the other mode of land acquisition, which is voluntary offer to sell (VOS), which big landlords can range against compulsory acquisition to maintain their control over vast tracts of lands. The farmer leader said the VOS will also be used by landed monopolies to sell their lands at a price acceptable to them.

“Mr. Pangandaman is engaged in massive disinformation. He is not telling the truth about CARPer and the bankruptcy and anti-farmer character of this law,” added Ramos.

Anakpawis’ Clemente urged the House of Representatives to undertake a complete inventory and performance assessment of DAR since CARP was implemented in 1987, asserting that DAR’s accomplish reports were not verified and highly questionable.

The party list official said based on the data provided by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), the country has 14.1 million hectares of prime agricultural lands, of said total 9.9 million hectares are farmlands and about 4 million hectares more or less are devoted to livestock production which were exempted from land distribution since 1988.

“There are about 7 million hectares of prime agricultural lands or more are concentrated in the hands of the few, and we DAR has no proof that five million hectares or more of these lands were already distributed to farmer beneficiaries under the reactionary CARP regime” said Clemente.

KMP noted that in the September 2007 report of DAR, that following data were uncovered: 5,049 emancipation patents (EPs) and 103, 092 certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) were cancelled by the agrarian department covering 204,579 hectares of land. But think tank Ibon Foundation said at the middle of 2004, DAR cancelled 2,000 land titles of farmers involving 380,000 hectares of land.

Meanwhile, the 87-year old Damasa “Naynay Masang” de Castro, survivor of the 1987 Mendiola Massacre, now on wheel chair, will lead 2,000 marchers from Mindanao, Panay, Negros, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Bicol, Southern Tagalog, Ilocos provinces, La Union, Cordillera, Isabela, Cagayan and Central Luzon provinces will converge at DAR ‘s national office early this evening for the People’s Concert and Vigil for Land and Justice.

The Mendiola Massacre survivor and veteran of numerous fights on agrarian reform led the community of farmers in Barangay Langkaan 1 and Pala-pala in Dasmarinas, Cavite against the Japanese giant Marubeni in the mid 80s and early 90s –whom the old woman and her farmer colleagues accused of landgrabbing and violations of peasant land rights.

Tomorrow, the 10,000 marching farmers , fisherfolk, farmworkers and peasant women will be joined by 8,000 Manila based activists belonging to Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), Gabriela, Bayan, Bayan Muna, Kabataan Party, League of Filipino Students (LFS) and eight militant party list congressmen—Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo, Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares and Teddy Casino, Anakpawis party list Reps. Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod, Kabataan Party Rep. Raymond Palatino and Gabriela lawmakers Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan. With reports from Bb. Joyce Cabral and Sugar Hicap

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10-km march highlights 23rd year anniv of Mendiola Massacre

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Roy Morilla, Rey Manangan and Billy Javier Reyes

Manila, Philippines- 10,000 farmers and Manila based activists will walk 10 kilometer from Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to Mendiola Bridge in Manila to demand free distribution of land and justice to victims of state repression. They will literally and figuratively paint the town red with their slogans for free land distribution and justice. And they will burn 1,500 pictures of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo once they reach the bridge of Mendiola.

“This is another shining moment, a triumphant class action from the Filipino peasantry. We will grab this political opportunity to strike our demand for free distribution of land and the rendering of justice to all victims of states-sponsored terrorism under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” said the activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Anakpawis party list –organizers of the 10-day Pambansang Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para sa Lupa at Katarungan in a joint statement.

The long march will coincide with the 23rd year anniversary of Mendiola Massacre which claimed the lives of 13 farmers when military and police agents peppered protesting farmers with bullets in an intense and politically charged rally 23 years ago.

To highlight the long march, leaders of the Katipunan ng Mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) will set on fire an effigy billed as “Backhoe Gloria”, which they said symbolizes Arroyo’s crimes to the Filipino farmers like landlessness and political repression. The burning of the effigy will be held in Mendiola once they reach the historic bridge, organizers said.

The 7 ft. tall effigy made of spare woods and other scrap materials was crafted by the Laguna based Southern Tagalog Cultural Network, according to Kasama-TK spokesperson Imelda Lacandazo. “The purpose of this effigy is to remind the people of Gloria’s monstrous reign,” she said.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) secretary general Danilo Ramos said the burning of 1,500 pictures of President Arroyo in Mendiola will symbolize the outrage of Filipino farmers against her government responsible for the gross denial of farmers’ rights to land, the brutal killings of 561 farmers and the fabricated criminal charges filed against peasant activists.
“With the burning of 1,500 pictures of Mrs. Arroyo, we figuratively speak the language of letting Mrs. Arroyo perish in the fires of hell for her agrarian crimes and injustice to millions of Filipino farmers. The prop action in Mendiola will also serve as a challenge and warning to the next sitting presidency in Malacanang,” added Ramos.

Ramos said marching farmers supported by 8,000 members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Gabriela, urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) and other manila based activist groups will also present the” Peasant Manila Declaration for May 2010 elections”—a political-electoral document composed of set of demands challenging all presidential candidates on issues and demands of farmers like free land distribution.

However, the KMP official said the set of demands will no longer be presented to Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, because the Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer, in all occasions, refuses to give up his family’s immoral and illegal control over the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita.

The Hacienda Luisita based United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) also turned the occasion into a political bashing against Senator Aquino. ULWU acting president Lito Bais said Sen. Aquino and the Cojuangco-Aquino clan will not give up the sugar plantation to farmer beneficiaries because the senator believes Hacienda Luisita was God’s gift to the Cojuangcos, and that farm workers working for several decades in the 6,453 hectare sugar estate are children of a lesser God for a lifetime.

“Senator Aquino is anti-farmer, a certified class enemy of farmers,” Bais said. According to Bais, around 100 farm workers of Hacienda Luisita joined the North leg of the 10-day Lakbayan. He said farmers from Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Isabela, Tarlac, Zambales, Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija merged with Luisita farm workers on their way to Manila for the big rally. #

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Presidentiables asked: “How do you solve a problem like Hacienda Luisita?”

By Billy Javier Reyes and Bb. Joyce Cabral

Manila, Philippines- Arriving in Metro Manila for the 8th day of Pambansang Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para sa Lupa at Katarungan (National Journey of Toiling Masses for Land and Justice), organizers of the 10-day long march posed this question to all presidential candidates, except Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III: “How do you solve a problem like Hacienda Luisita.”

Lakbayan organizers Danilo Ramos, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and party list group Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente in a joint statement asked presidential candidates Sen. Manuel Villar (Nacionalista Party), Sen. Dick Gordon, Lakas-Kampi merger party bet Gilbert Teodoro, independent candidates JC de los Reyes and Nicanor Perlas and Bro. Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas to declare their position on Hacienda Luisita.

“Senator Aquino believes Hacienda Luisita is God’s gift to Cojuangco-Aquino clan, and therefore only God can take it back from them. So it is useless to ask this moral, legal and political question to him. It is obvious, Noynoy and the patriarchs and matriarchs of Cojuangco landed clan will not give up their immoral and unlawful claim on Luisita”, the Lakbayan leaders said in a joint statement.

KMP’s Ramos said the problems in Hacienda Luisita will not find a long lasting and just settlement under a Noynoy Aquino presidency, asserting that the 6,453-hectare sugar estate is the bread and butter and the source of economic and political power of the Cojuangco-Aquino for near century.

“So the 64-dollar question mark remains—how these presidentiables except Noynoy solve a problem like Hacienda Luisita?” the KMP leader reiterated.

KMP said Hacienda Luisita is only one of the more than 200 cases being handled by the group’s para-legal committee, adding that agrarian cases in different regions and provinces will also be carried by Lakbayan for concrete action and resolution including but not limited to cases of landgrabbing in Southern Tagalog orchestrated by landlord and developers identified with Ayala group of companies and the 3,100 hectare landgrabbing spree inside Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Laur, Nueva Ecija.

Ramos said the Lakbayan will also bring up issues of landgrabbing and land reform reversals with the expansion of plantations and mining in Mindanao island which he said have displaced thousands of farmers and indigenous peasants, the problems of coconut farmers in Bicol region and the widespread cancellation of farmer land titles in Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Panay and Negros island.

The KMP leader said the biggest gainer among the landlords during the nine years of Arroyo administration is business tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, who was able to control the P 130-billion coconut levy fund and enlarged landholdings from 3,000 hectares to 30,000 hectares in the span of 9 to 10 years.

Ramos said Danding has vast landholdings in Negros (3,000 hectares), Palawan, Tarlac, Caraga and Isabela provinces.
For her part, Clemente of Anakpawis party list announced that it will co-sponsor with KMP a presidential forum next month to present the farmers and the rural people’s agenda in the May 2010 elections.

The Anakpawis official said aside from Hacienda Luisita, the other highlight cases of agrarian problems to be discussed and debated during the forum will include controversial issues surrounding Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas, the land reform reversals engineered by Calabarzon program in Southern Tagalog and other land issues in Mindanao, Visayas, Bicol, Northern and Central Luzon.
As of press time, the South contingent composed of 1,500 farmers from Mindanao, Panay, Negros, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions led by the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) are still marching from San Pedro Laguna to Alabang in Muntinlupa City. They marchers are expected to arrive in Alabang by 10:00 a.m.

The 500-strong North contingent led by Alyansa ng Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) will arrive in Monumento, Caloocan by 2: 00 pm, and will proceed to Our Lady of Grace past 3:00 pm, where they will hold a solidarity night and vigil. On January 22, organizers expect to mobilize 7,000 people for the long march from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to Mendiola.

The 10-kilometer march from DAR to Don Chino Roces bridge in Manila will be spearheaded by senatorial candidates Rep. Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna) and Rep. Liza Maza (Gabriela), Anakpawis party list Reps. Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod, and leaders of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Pamalakaya fisherfolk alliance, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the urban poor group Kadamay, the militant driver’s group Piston and other sectoral groups affiliated with Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and Alyansa ng Mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL). With a report from Gerry Albert Corpuz

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Satur, Maza to lead farmers’ March in Mendiola

By Bombshell Moran

Manila, Philippines- Eight militant party list lawmakers will lead the 7,000 strong farmers’ march to Don Chino Roces Bridge on the occasion of the 23rd year anniversary of Mendiola Massacre.

In a press conference this morning, Makabayan senatorial candidates Rep. Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna) and Rep. Liza Maza (Gabriela) and Anakpawis party list lawmakers Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod said four of their colleagues—Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares, Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casino, Gabriela Women’s Party list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan and Kabataan Party list Rep. Raymond Palatino will also join the 10-kilometer march from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Quezon City to Mendiola Bridge in Manila on Friday.

“According to data provided by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) majority of private agricultural lands are still in the hands of big landlords. Around 7 million hectares of prime agricultural lands remained untouched and undistributed, and based from that projection, agrarian injustice still reign all over the country,” Maza said.

Anakpawis’ Mariano said around 500 farmers representing peasant groups in Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Benguet, Cagayan, Isabela, Tarlac, Zambales, Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Aurora are now marching from Malolos City to Meycauyan City. The Northern and Central Luzon contingent is being led by the Alyansang Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon and the Hacienda Luisita based United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU).

“The Northern and Central Luzon leg of Pambansang Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para sa Lupa at Katarungan encountered minor hassles compared to the South leg which is marred by frequent military and police checkpoints since day one of the 10-day caravan which started in Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City where marchers and their vehicles were subjected to rigorous check and inspection,” Rep. Mariano said.

Maglunsod said the Southern leg of the Lakbayan composed of Mindanao island, Panay and Negros islands, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas, Bicol and Southern Tagalog had hurdled series of checkpoints and stoppages in Davao City, Butuan City, Cagayan de Oro, Liloan and Tacloban City in Leyte, Catbalogan, Calbayog and Catarman in Samar, Sorsogon City in Sorsogon, Daraga and Legaspi City in Albay.

Last Sunday, Maglunsod recalled that in Gumaca, Quezon province, the caravan was stopped five times and derailed the arrival of farmers in Lucena City in Quezon. “The AFP and the PNP are exploiting the Comelec gun ban to harass the marchers and derail their caravan to Manila. I was in Bicol during the caravan’s leg in the region, and we have to negotiate from time to time to military and police authorities just to be allowed to pass from one town to the next town. This is ridiculous, “the Anakpawis solon said.

The militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno and staunch ally Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) said they will mobilize at least 2,000 of their members in support of the farmers’ march to Mendiola, while Anakpawis, Bayan Muna and Gabriela chapters all over the National Capital Region will also join what they called the historic march and caravan for land and justice.

Meanwhile, critics of the Arroyo government on Tuesday ate apples and oranges at the gate of the Department of Agriculture in Quezon City, while their colleagues who marched from Mindanao and Visayas islands, Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions morphed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo into a monster backhoe in Calamba City in Laguna to mark the 8th day of the Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para sa Lupa at Katarungan.

Some 80 fisherfolk and farmer activists belonging to Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Anakpawis party list once blocked the gates of agriculture department with 5 huge ice blocs and put 50 pieces of oranges and 50 pieces of apples on top of these ice blocs for cooling.

Later they ate the apples and oranges in a symbolic protest against the P 455-million ice making machine scam involving agriculture secretary Arthur Yap and 13 other government and private officials, who syndicated the bidding and procurement of 98 ice-making machines, which the groups said was overpriced by P 2.3 million per unit or P 225 million.

Officials of DA and the spokespersons of the National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor) said Pamalakaya and Anakpawis were wrong in comparing the 98 units brought by the winning bidder to the ice-making machines offered by other bidders, saying the groups who filed the plunder case against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Sec. Yap were comparing apples and oranges, asserting that the machines were double in price because these were state of the art technologies.

“See? Fisherfolk don’t compare oranges and apples. They eat them. However, it would be a chance of lifetime for our small fishers to have oranges and apples in their dining tables,” says Pamalakaya vice chair Salvador France and Anakpawis party list secretary general Cherry Clemente in a joint statement.

Last January 6, Pamalakaya and Anakpawis leaders led by Rep. Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod filed the plunder and other criminal and administrative charges against President Arroyo, Sec. Yap and 13 other public and private officials

In Calamba City, the 1,500 marchers from Mindanao island, Panay Island, Negros Island, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions paraded an effigy known as “Gloriang Backhoe” where President Arroyo was morphed into a giant monster like backhoe depicting her administration as a regime massacring livelihood and human rights of the people all over the archipelago.

The 7 feet tall and 5 feet wide Backhoe effigy made of wood and other scrap materials was crafted by the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and its cultural arm—the Southern Tagalog Cultural Network showing Arroyo’s face as the backhoe machine being operated by Uncle Sam symbolizing the US control over her administration.

Kasama-TK spokesperson Imelda Lacandazo said the effigy will be paraded as the 1,500 strong marchers from Mindanao, Panay and Negros islands, Central and Eastern Visayas, Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions march from Calamba City to San Pedro in Laguna today.

“This effigy symbolizes the crimes of President Arroyo to the people. It represents the criminal activities of this government including landlessness, human rights violations, all forms of fraud and corruption and puppetry,” she said. With reports from Bb. Joyce Cabral and Chocolate Moose Fernandez

Backhoe Gloria symbolizes the crimes of the Arroyo regime

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Joma says Gibo, Noynoy big landlords

by Jayjay Jaiho and Trinity Biglang Awa

Manila, Philippines- Short of calling their rejection in the May 2010 polls, two major presidential candidates—the administration backed Gilbert Teodoro of Lakas-Kampi merger party and Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Sen. Benigno Simeon (Noynoy) Aquino III belong to big land lord clans who vast haciendas in Tarlac, Pangasinan, Isabela, Negros, Caraga, Palawan and other parts of the country, according to Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Prof. Jose Maria Sison.

Sison, the chief consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in its peace negotiation with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and current chair of The Netherlands based -International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS), said only progressive candidates who espouse genuine land reform deserve the support of the electorate in the May 2010 elections.

In his message to organizers of the 10-day Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para sa Lupa at Katarungan led by Anakpawis party list and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Sison said It is just to demand genuine land reform and the free distribution of land to the tillers as the solution to the land problem. “Land reform must be realized on the strength of the peasant movement and for the purpose of attaining the economic, social and political liberation of the peasant masses. It must not be limited to the confines of reactionary legislation,” he added.

The NDFP political consultant said the recently passed Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPer) is essentially intended to dampen the peasant demand for land and preserve the feudal and semifeudal forms of exploitation.

“ As in previous bogus land reform programs, CARPer retains the same loopholes and tricks for the landlords to prevent or evade land reform. It is necessary to bring to national and international attention the local struggles for land and take up the most outstanding cases of land accumulation and landgrabbing at the expense of the peasants and the farm workers. The people want to know more about the land greed, rapacity and brutality of certain landlord families that dominate the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system,” he said.

Lakbayan organizer and KMP Secretary General Danilo Ramos said on Monday an advance group of farmers and supporters led by KMP, the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid ng Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK), Anakpawis party list and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) will present the electoral agenda for genuine land reform to the Philippine Senate which is set to resume today.

At the House of Representatives, Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano will deliver a privilege speech devoted to the agrarian and human rights issues carried by the 10-day Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para sa Lupa at Katarungan.

Ramos said a petition letter urging the Senate to investigate the specific cases of agrarian problems which include the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita own by the Cojuangco-Aquino clan in Tarlac, the 8,650-hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas and the ongoing dispute on the 3,100 hectare agricultural land inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) in Laur, Nueva Ecija.

The KMP leader said a presidential forum is being planned with presidential and vice-presidential candidates as main resource persons. Ramos said presidential and vice presidential wannabes excluding Teodoro and Aquino will be invited to the forum. KMP and Anakpawis will bring up the issue of Hacienda Luisita and other agrarian cases.

The North Wing contingent composed of marching farmers from Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Benguet, Abra, Cagayan, Isabela, Tarlac, Pangasinan, Zambales, Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Aurora will arrive in Manila on January 20. The South wing group composed of peasant activists from Mindanao Island, Panay, Negros, Eastern and Central Visayas, Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions will arrive in Metro Manila on the same day in Alabang, Muntinlupa.

The Lakbayan will stage a vigil at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on January 21 and will stage a 10-kilometer march to Don Chino Roces in commemoration of the 23rd anniversary of Mendiola Massacre.

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Luisita workers urge Congress to re-open massacre case, agrarian dispute

By Jayjay Jaiho and Akihira Tatchu

Tarlac City, Philippines- Striking farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita will join the 10-day Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para sa Lupa at Katarungan to demand the re-opening of the Hacienda Luisita massacre case, including the current state of agrarian dispute in the 6,453-hectare sugar estate, which they said remains unresolved up to this day.

In a press statement, the hacienda based United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said they will submit an official letter addressed to the Senate and the House of Representatives requiring house leaders to re-open the still unresolved issues involving the Cojuangco-Aquino sugar estate, which was investigated by lawmakers in aid of legislation but failed to come up with a separate or joint committee report on the Nov.16, 2004 massacre that claimed 7 lives of farmworkers and injured more than 100 farm workers.

“Forgive and forget is not our cup of tea. We will pursue our case in the name of land, truth and justice,” said Lito Bais, spokesperson and acting chair of UMA.

The demand for the re-opening of Hacienda Luisita massacre and investigation on the current land reform status in the Cojuangco-Aquino estate by both chambers of Congress was supported by allied groups headed by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Amihan peasant women federation and militant party list group Anakpawis.

In a joint statement, the groups asked Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Prospero Nograles to pursue the investigation of previous and present issues in Hacienda Luisita, including the encroachment of private groups occupying portions of the sugar estate like the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), which claimed some hectares of land representing foreclosed properties arising from Luisita management debts.

“Is Hacienda Luisita for sale? But according to insiders and highly well placed source, the Cojuangco –Aquino clan is hiring dummies and using paid hacks to sow intrigues and terror in the hacienda,” they said.

Bais said around 200 farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita will join the peasant caravan and long march from Tarlac to the National Capital Region, and they will converge with other farmers from Ilocos provinces, La Union, Benguet, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Isabela and provinces of Central Luzon—Zambales, Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Aurora provinces on January 16 at Hacienda Luisita Park before the long march to Mendiola.

“The case of the farm workers of hacienda Luisita is not different from other sad stories of farmers in the whole North and Central Luzon were farmers for years became the unwilling victims of unjust relation between landlords and peasants accompanied by anti-farmer program policies and projects of the government and the national security group in Malacanang”, said Joseph Canlas, chair of the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon [AMGL].

The AMGL chair stressed that this caravan-march for land and justice is very important because it highlights the plight of the peasantry by showcasing the local issues in our region and addressing it as a national concern.

Aside from hacienda Luisita, there’s also the issue of the Fort Magsaysay Military reservation were peasants are being thrown out on their farms by the military. Then there’s the landgrabbing case committed by Rep. Luis Villafuerte of Bicol in San Miguel, Bulacan and the displacement of Tungko Mangga farmers by the Araneta’s when MRT 7 will pushed through to their community.

“There’s a clear and present danger upon the situation not only on the gravity of the people and institution that we’re going to deal with but also its counter actions. Since GMA assume the seat of power, peasants are on the upper deck victimized by extra judicial killings and persecutions to this date, 560 out of 1050 victims of extra judicial killings were leaders and members of peasant organizations whose only crime is to organized their ranks and fight for their rights”, added Canlas.

“We’re going to start our caravan-march on January 17, after an overnight stay in Tarlac. From there, we’re going to San Fernando, Pampanga to meet with other peasant delegates and will march to the Department of Agrarian Reform region 3 to stage a protest action,” the AMGL official added.

On January 18 the Lakbayan march will proceed to Malolos and will meet the Bulacan contingent and onward to Manila. More groups will join the peasant marchers as they reach the Bonifacio shrine in Balintawak on the 20th.

The Lakbayan will then proceed to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) national office on the 21st of January where a cultural and solidarity night will be held. On January 22, the marchers will proceed to Manila coinciding with the 23rd year anniversary of Mendiola Massacre.

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