Tag Archives: Amihan

6 groups grilled Defense chief on torture of Morong 43

By Chocolate Moose Fernandez and Bb. Joyce Cabral

As the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) today sets court appearance of 43 doctors and health workers before the Court of Appeals for their writ of habeas corpus hearing, six rural based groups grilled took turns in grilling Defense Secretary and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzalez, accusing that the latter as the mastermind, if not, one of the key security officials who gave the order to abduct and torture the 43 doctors and health workers.

In a joint statement, Danilo Ramos, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), John Milton Lozande of Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Cherry Clemente of Anakpawis party list, Lito Bais, acting president of United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), Zen Soriano of Amihan peasant women federation and Fernando Hicap, chair of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said Gonzalez is the criminal mindset behind the political kidnapping, illegal arrest and detention, and day-to-day infliction of mental and physical torture on 43 medical personnel who were arrested during a raid in a resort in Morong, Rizal while conducting health seminar last week.

“The horrible tales as narrated by the victims themselves reflect the militarist mindset of the Arroyo government, the pro-Arroyo generals in the AFP and Sec. Gonzalez—the undisclosed author of counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and Oplan Bantay Laya 2,” the six militant leaders said in a statement.

“Bert Gonzalez Is Bert Gonzalez, and for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo he is untouchable and the best entities to explain why Gonzalez is untouchable is the president herself and her master in Washington D.C,” they said, short of giving a hint that the defense chief is a deployed operative of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the Philippines.

The groups said any congressional investigation or appropriate probe conducted by any government agency should have Secretary Gonzalez both as prime suspect and hostile witness. The fisherfolk leader said the case of Morong 43 can be objectively face with the inclusion of Gonzalez in the investigation and list of resource persons of the Senate, in case it paves way to the resolution authored by Senator Pia Cayetano calling for a Senate probe on the controversial case.

Likewise, the six groups said the Moro 43 case should merit the immediate and unconditional suspension if not removal of Sec. Gonzalez from his two posts—secretary of Department of National Defense (DND) and National Security Council (NSC) head, being Arroyo’s chief security adviser.

KMP, Pamalakaya, Anakpawis and the three other groups said prior to the abduction of 43 doctors and health workers, Sec. Gonzalez announced the government and the military are all set to resume the campaign of legal offensive against suspected communist leaders and aboveground groups and personalities which he believed have direct and indirect connections with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing—the New People’s Army (NPA). The directive to file criminal charges against leftwing activists and perceived leaders and members of CPP and NPA took place a week before the raid was conducted in Morong, Rizal.

Meanwhile, the six groups challenged all presidential, vice-presidential and senatorial candidates in the May 2010 elections to sign a national covenant that if they win in the elections, they will avoid a repeat of Morong 43 and that the will respect constitutionally guaranteed basic human rights and civil liberties.

The 6 militant groups noted that presidential candidates Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III and running mate Sen. Manuel Roxas of Liberal Party (LP), Manny Villar of Nacionalista Party, Richard Gordon and running mate, former MMDA chair Bayani Fernando, Lakas-Kampi vice-presidential bet Edu Manzano, independents JC de los Reyes and Nicanor Perlas and Bangon Pilipinas’ Bro. Eddie Villanueva have yet to issue official statements on the defective arrest of 43 medical persons.

The groups said the same holds true to majority of senatorial candidates, and only a handful led by Nacionalista Party (NP) guest candidates Reps. Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna) and Liza Maza (Gabriela) and Sen. Cayetano also of NP have sent official statements condemning the arrest and torture of 43 health workers. #

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Activists across the globe urged UN to probe food sources destruction in RP

By Via Cheri de Venezia, The Pamalakaya Times Europe Bureau Chief

Rome, Italy (via PLDT)- Some 250 activists from more than 100 countries who gathered in Rome, Italy for the Peoples Conference on Food Sovereignty signed a petition urging the United Nations led Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO)to investigate alleged destruction of country´s food sources,according to Antonio Flores, of the Kilusang Magbububkid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

The petition was authored by KMP, the left’leaning fisherfolk alliancePa Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and peasant women grouyp Amihan.

Flores said the activists who supported their petition were from United States, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Hongkong, South Africa, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Martinique, Ghana,South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Peru,Pakistan, Palestine, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malawi, Zimbabwe, United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Cuba,Finland, Iceland, Russia and 50 other countries.

“We hope the UN-FAO will find merit to our rural people’s petition for a international inquiry on massive destruction, privatization and conversion of food sources courtesy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her transnational clients,” the KMP official added.

Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz who was part of the militant contingent in the conference on food sovereignty said activists from different nations agreed with the proposal for UN-FAO to send a high level delegation to the country to investigate what he called “transnational takeover, corporate plunder and environmental destruction of food sources in the name of super profits by international and domestic big business all over the country.”

“The strong clamor for UN-FAO high profile probe of FAO on the current state of food sources all over the archipelago has been re-echoed to UN.FAO top officials and international opinion makers. We want FAO to discover that the phenomenon of climate change or global warming and its particularity in the Philippines is a result of monopolies’ eternal thirst and greed for super profits and the Arroyo administration’s uncontrollable greed for fat kickbacks,” Corpuz said.

The UNFAO’s World Food Summit is expected to gather 400 food based groups and food rights activists in Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Central America and North America. The possible topics to be discussed in the 6-day conference will include food aid, climate change and climate justice.

The Pamalakaya information chief said the groups cited “major cases in the Philippines’ where food production areas are destroyed and the land, water and production rights of the people are grossly violated in the name of globalization and transnational plunder.

Among the cases the Philippine rural-based groups had mentioned in their petition were the case of small fisherfolk currently displaced by foreign funded projects in Manila Bay, the corporate destruction of Laguna Lake, the 64 offshore mining activities off the waters of Tanon Strait (Cebu-Negros), Cebu-Bohol Strait, Palawan, Panay Island, Ragay Gulf in Bicol region and other parts of Mindanao, the unabated large scale logging activities in Sierra Madre, the left-and-right landgrabbing and land use conversions in the country and the proliferation of destructive dams in the tradition of San Roque Dam in Pangasinan among others.

Pamalakaya also raised in their petition the issues of Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) among the Philippines, China and Vietnam, the setting up of ASEAN gas pipeline cornering the waters of the Philippines, China, Malaysia and Singapore and the controversial $ 110-million ExxonMobil offshore mining and gas exploration activity in Sulu sea, which the group said will destroy the country’s major sources of fish and other water-based food products.

The militant groups noted that in 1996, the first World Food Summit also held in Rome produced global commitment to substantially reduce the number of hungry and malnourished people by 2015. The FAO itself admitted that over 2 billion of the world’s population is suffering food insecurity, hunger and starvation.

They said the destruction of food production areas through private appropriation and conversion resulted to decline of food produced for global people’s consumption and on the other hand led to sharp increases in the prices of major food items such as rice (increased by 217 percent), wheat (up by 136 percent), corn (125 percent increase) and soya beans (117 percent increase).

Also in their petition, the groups and allitook into account that food imports of third world countries like the Philippines rose by 27 percent in 2007, which Pamalakaya said is not unusual given the absence of genuine land reform and the backwardness of local agriculture in the country, and the massive conversion and privatization of agricultural lands and fishing grounds all over the country. #

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Militants in Rome tell Mar: “Don’t be too “Liberal” on Noynoy

by Via Cheri de Venezia, The Pamalakaya Times Europe Bureau Chief

Rome, Italy (via PLDT)-Representatives of militant groups attending the People’s Forum on Food Sovereignty in Rome from November 13-17, a parallel forum to the United Nations Food and Agriculture (UN-FAO) World Summit on Food Security on Nov.16-18 today said Liberal Party vice’presidential candidate Mar Roxas should not to be ” too Liberal” to his running mate presidential candidate Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III regarding the controversial agrarian reform dispute in Hacienda Luisita.

In a press statement e-mailed from Rome, Gerry Albert Corpuz, information officer of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) advised Roxas to stop acting like a second-rate spokesperson of Hacienda Luisita management.

Corpuz reacted to the statement of Roxas defending his running mate from criticisms ranged against Aquino by militant groups and Hacienda Luisita farmworkers on the way the Liberal Party presidential candidate handled the land reform dispute in the sprawling 6,453-hectare sugar plantation.

Roxas in a press conference after the LP national convention in Quezon City said a big number of hacienda farmworkers are willing to enlist or register in the registration campaign of farmer beneficiaries initiated by the Hacienda Luisita management, and that only a noisy few are opposed to the enlistment.

“Who is Mar Roxas to state that? He is not from Hacienda Luisita and definitely he is the right person to talk in behalf of the striking farmworkers. He is the son of all-time despotic landlords in the country,” Corpuz asserted.

“Mar should be extra careful in issuing statements. He knows the legitimacy of the farmworkers struggle in Hacienda Luisita, but this vice-presidential wannable opts to stay with Aquino. Excuse me, Aquino is not a saint, but an ambitious politician who carries the interest and mindset of despotic landlord and feudal aristocracy,” the Pamalakaya information officer added.

Pamalakaya along with representatives of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Amihan peasant women federation yesterday launched a signature drive urging the Philippine government and the family of the late former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino to immediately distribute for free, the 6,453 hectare sugar plantation in Hacienda Luisita to agricultural workers and other farmer beneficiaries.

The delegation of Corpuz,Antonio Flores of KMP, Edna Velarde, coordinator of UMA and Lennie Robinios, staff of Amihan peasant women federation said initially gathered some 52 signatures from the 400 foreign participants to the twin conference on food sovereignty in support to the striking farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita.

“The international community is very vigilant. They are eager to know what is going on in Hacienda Luisita five years after the massacre,” Corpuz added.

According to Corpuz, the signatures endorsing the urgent and free distribution of Hacienda Luisita were from Italy, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Palestine, Canada, Kenya, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Malaysia, Malawi, Zimbabwe,Spain, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Cameron,Martinique, Cuba,Thailand, South Korea,Bangladesh,Nepal, Peru and the Philippines.

The Pamalakaya official said UMANGAT-Italy, the Italy chapter of Migrante-International will also support the signature campaign and will conduct their own signature campaign in Rome urging President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to give in to the demand of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers.

Last sunday, a forum of Filipino community groups in Rome attended by 60 working migrants in Rome was held in Euclide were Flores of KMP and Arron Ceradoy of Asia-Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) updated the Filipino community on the status of the current battle of Hacienda Luisita workers as far as the collective claim to the Cojuangco sugar estate is concerned.

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Government told: “Don’t treat us as children of lesser God”

Typhoon victims in Rizal province complain of Palace neglect
Government told: “Don’t treat us as children of lesser God”
by Roy Morilla, Gigi Babon, Rey Manangan and Billy Reyes

Antipolo City- Upland farmers and lake fishermen in Rizal province on Thursday charged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her officials of state neglect over Malacanang’s failure to send rescue teams and conduct relief operations in a number of affected farming and fishing villages in the province.

“This government is treating farmers and fishermen affected by tropical storm Ondoy as children of lesser God. Please allow us to inform this corrupt presidency that we are decent, productive and patriotic sectors of society. We don’t deserve this extreme display of government neglect and state abandonment,” the activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said in a joint statement.

KMP deputy secretary general Willy Marbella said in Montalban, Rizal, hundreds of peasant households were ravaged by typhoon Ondoy, “But government rescue and relief operations are nowhere to be found. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her officials are probably moonlighting elsewhere, while thousands of our farmers are struggling hard for survival. ‘If there were relief operations it was selective, where recipients of relief goods are subject to the discretion of local barangay officials and patronage politics,” he said.

Marbella said in Sitio Sapa, Barangay San Rafael in Rodriguez, Rizal, 68 households were affected by heavy floods since Saturday, affecting over 300 farmers, and another 180 households were flooded by waters and mud in the adjacent villages dislodging not less 800 farmers and residents.

For his part, Pamalakaya vice-chairperson Salvador France, said no relief operations were conducted in the Laguna Lake portions of Binangonan in Rizal province. Based on the report his group received from their chapter coordinators in the province, no relief goods or any kind of government assistance were given to affected fishermen.

“Huge billboards promoting Palace infrastructure projects in Binangonan and other parts of Rizal province say “GMA cares”, but there is no truth to that. The truth is Mrs. Arroyo does not care, the word care just exists in her towering propaganda billboards for her own image building , nothing more, nothing less,” said France.

France said in Barangay Tayuman, Tayuman and Tagpos, all in Binangonan town, a total of 250 fishing households were affected by typhoon Ondoy roughly 1,000 lakeshore residents. He said many of them are currently housed in evacuation centers, but they have no access to relief goods and assistance from the local government and support groups is nil.

The Pamalakaya leader said in Talim Island, a total of 145 households representing the fishing barangays of Ticulio and Pipindan were affected and are still submerged in deep waters. There was no report of any relief operations conducted in said barangays, which is some 30 to 45 minutes boat ride from Binangonan proper.

In order to address the urgent needs of affected farmers and fisherfolk in Rizal province and other ravaged provinces—Laguna, Batangas, Cavite and Quezon in Southern Tagalog, Bataan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija and Aurora in Central Luzon, the KMP and Pamalakaya coalesced with other rural-based organizations like the Unyon ng Mga Mangagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the Amihan peasant women federation, the student support group Nnara-Youth and the church-based Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) and formed its own relief network for typhoon Ondoy victims known as Oplan Sagip Kanayunan-Balsa.

Organizers said Oplan Sagip Kanayunan-Balsa will lead rural-based groups in soliciting relief goods and material assistance for farmers and fishermen in two regions affected by storm Ondoy. They said the national offices of Pamalakaya, KMP and Amihan will serve as drop off centers for relief and material support and cash donations for rural people victimized by tropical storm Ondoy. #

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UN told: Climate policies should be responsive

UN told: Climate policies should be responsive
By Vince Cinches in Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand- Philippine based rural groups under the People’s Action on Climate Change appealed to officials of the United Nations, who are gathering here for the intersessional conference to combat global warming, to ensure that genuine and binding climate policies – that is responsive to rural people’s needs and rights.

In a joint statement signed by leaders of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Amihan peasant women federation, the PACC asserted that climate change is not only jeopardizing the rural people’s future, but the advocacy is being used by multi-national and trans-national corporations (TNCs) who are the main contributors to global warming to rake in more profit from our miseries. ” It is a known fact that these climate culprits are the main reason why we are experiencing massive hunger and poverty is continuing with its plunder and environmental destruction in an unprecedented manner,” according to PACC statement furnished to The Pamalakaya Times.

According to the Fourth Assessment Report of the UN-IPCC unprecedented concentration of global warming gasses is causing the decline of our harvest.

“It is a known fact, that even without vast tracks of agricultural lands around the world are being controlled and converted by plunderers into cash-crop plantations such as biofuels and other corporate schemes that alienates and forcibly driving us out from land,” the PACC said.

The PACC said large tracts of forests have been lost in Brazil, Malaysia and Indonesia due to conversion of forests to oil-alm plantations for biofuels export. This drive for the export market makes countries like the Philippines to embark more biofuel plantations at the expense of food production and to the detriment of farmers and the environment. The destruction of the world’s forests also lead to the conversion of agricultural plantations for export oriented crops, farms fo cattle raising and monoculture tree plantations.

” It is alarming that these land grabbers and climate culprits are talking about climate change as another scheme to strengthen their hold over land resources. Also, upland farmers and indigenous peoples that depend on the forests are displaced. Further defeating any moves of the grass roots for food security and healthy environment,” said PACC signatory and KMP national auditor Antonio Flores.

Flores who represented the farmer group in the parallel conference sponsored by the PACC and the Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA) said the land is being degraded with the use of agrochemical products lik pesticides and fertilizer. These chemicals run on fossil fuels largely contributing to the GHG emissions and increasing the threats to our lives and livelihoods. “The TNCs are robbing us of our lands, our health, our lives and the future of our generations,” ina statement read before hundreds of environmental activists from countries in Asia and the Pacific.

Amihan spokesperon Zen Zoriano said rural groups from all over South East Asia are urging UN and other country representatives to make the ongoing UNFCCC intersessional meeting here in Bangkok becoming more responsive and should lead to an international agreement that will genuinely address climate change and environmental degradation in the region.

“UN should not entertain false solutions that pushes business as usual scenario and rescind any agreements that promotes the control of large corporations on our lands and resources, the degradation of our environment and impede the genuine development of our nations. Biofuels, land use conversion, deforestation, use of agrochemicals and other anti-people and anti-environment practices that do not address the problems of climate change should be rejected,” Soriano said.

PACC said climate negotiation should always put first the needs and rights of poor people like the farmers in Southeast Asia and not the interest of northern rich countries and their big business. National governments of third world countries should learn from its experience in pursuing globalization policies like liberalizing and privatizing our land does not lead to economic development but widespread poverty and devastated environment. #

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Rural groups slam defense chief 10k rubber plantion project

Rural groups slam Teodoro’s disposal of 10K hectares of land for rubber plantation project

Four of the biggest rural based groups in the country– the activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pamalakaya, the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and the Amihan peasant women federation on Wednesday questioned the move of Defense Secretary and Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential bet Gilbert Teodoro to lease 10,000 hectares of prime agricultural lands in Bukidnon province for a rubber plantation project.

The 10,000 hectares set aside for rubber plantation is part of the 42,000 hectare military reservation in the province, The project which will cost P 72-million is in joint partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA), but the defense and the agriculture departments did not divulge the name of the investor on the rubber plantation project.

Apart from rubber, the cash crops like corn and coffee are also considered to be planted in the 10,000 hectare plantation.

“The project is highly irregular, patently illegal and grossly immoral. The AFP has no right to engage in the selling and disposal of prime agricultural lands. The military reservation should have been distributed to landless farmers and jobless farmworkers, but the AFP is keeping it as their own private property exactly similar to what warlords and big landlords are doing in Mindanao,” the groups said in a joint statement.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos reminded Secretary Teodoro that the prime agricultural lands do not belong the military but to the Filipino farmers and the general public, and he has no right to act like big landlord or real estate operator.

Ramos also lambasted the silence of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Nasser Pangandaman on the AFP-DA 10,000 hectare rubber plantation deal.

“It seems to us this DND-DA project has the seal of approval of the Office of the President and the office of Mr. Pangandaman. This transaction is treated like a best kept secret among officials of the AFP, the agriculture department and the of course, the office of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the agrarian reform department,” he said.

For his part, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap assailed Secretary Teodoro for endorsing the anomalous rubber plantation project, adding that he and and agriculture secretary Arthur Yap acted as brokers of the highly anomalous landgrabbing deal.

“We want honest-to-goodness explanations from Teodoro and Yap. They cannot get away with this latest agrarian crime. They must be held accountable for this anti-farmer deal,” added Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said the sell out of 10,000 hectares of prime agricultural lands inside the military reservation in Bukidnon is a preview of what a Teodoro presidency has to offer. “We will continue to lose this country to all time landgrabbers, real estate speculators and foreign and domestic landed monopolies,” Hicap said.

Representatives of DA and AFP are set to sign a memorandum of agreement in mid-September upon completion of project documents such as project proposal and area development plan. The project is envisioned to provide livelihood to people residing close or within the military reservation.

The project according to AFP will showcase production technology for rubber and other agricultural products. The military said the project will also serve as template for the development of other military reservations such as Tumandok military reservation in Panay Island and the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Laur, Nueva Ecija.

The project will tap the services of engineering brigade of the AFP based in Bukidnon to help building access roads to the plantation and put up facilities such as irrigations systems. Secretary Teodoro is optimistic the project would promote the government’s peace and development programs in Bukidnon and other parts of Mindanao.

Meanwhile, the spokespersons of Amihan peasant women federation and UMA said Congress should investigate this emerging trend in t he agrarian homefront, where the military is dispatching thousands of hectares of lands inside military reservations for business purposes.

Amihan spokesperson Zen Soriano and UMA media officer Jay Calaguing in a joint statement said lawmakers should look into the alleged real estate activities of Secretary Teodoro and other military officials encouraging the disposal of public lands inside military reservations to big agri-business corporations and other big ticket ventures.

“The auctioning of prime agricultural lands inside military reservations for business adventures negate the true essence of genuine agrarian reform and social justice in the country. This practice should be stopped and let farmers acquire these lands inside military reservations under a free land distribution scheme,” they said. #

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Peasant women group holds Santacruzan to press OK of new land reform bill

Peasant women group holds Santacruzan to press OK of new land reform bill

Manila, Philippines–Farmers identified with Amihan national federation of peasant women held a Santacruzan this 6pm by the gate of the House of Representatives to dramatize their plight as landless farmers and their desire to have the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill No. 3059 passed by Congress on or before the Congress on June 6.

Santacruzan also known as Flores de Mayo is a religious-historical beauty pageant is stage during the month of May, depicting the finding of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. According to Amihan spokesperson Zenaida Soriano, the peasant women version of this tradition, was staged to present the rural people’s quest for a genuine agrarian reform and bountiful life.

“We stage this Santacruzan as an effective way of showing to the Filipino people the need to institute a genuine and thoroughgoing land reform program with the passage of GARB or House Bill No. 3059,” the Amihan spokesperson said.

Soriano said GARB was principally authored by former Anakpawis party list Rep. Crispin Beltran and co-authored by his successor Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna party list Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño and Gabriela party list lawmakers Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan. Newly proclaimed Anakpawis party list Rep. Joel Maglunsod, Bayan Muna party list Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares and Kabataan party list Rep. Raymond Palatino will soon join their militant lawmaker colleagues to endorse the controversial measure.

Amihan members dressed in evening gowns bearing messages like genuine land reform, pass HB 3059, stop corruption, end poverty and hunger, stop extrajudicial killings transformed the gate of the House of Representatives into a fashion runaway and kicked off a short procession along the Batasan Road before going back to the camp-out area.

“This politically motivated Santacruzan is meant to inform the people about the daily ordeals of the Filipino women peasantry and their search for genuine land reform, their advocacy for the enactment of GARB and their day-to-day quest for truth, justice and eradication of poverty all over the country,” the peasant women group added.

Presented in the Santacruzan were, Reyna Sentenciada, representing the rural folks held in perpetual bondage, with the absence of a genuine agrarian reform program. She was presented bound by rope, and guarded by 2 soldiers.

Preceding Reyna sentenciada were Reyna Abogada, the defender of the poor and the oppressed, and Reyna Justicia, both representing the justice that continue to be elusive for the landless rural folks.

Following Reyna sentenciada were Reyna Fe and Reyna sporrans, symbols of the faith, hope and determination of the rural folks that with unity and collective action they can attain their goal of a genuine agrarian reform, the House Bill 3059, Genuine Agrarian Bill, presented by 10 children, dressed in white.

And the final part of the procession, the Reyna Elena, who in biblical history, found the Holy cross, represented the final victory of the rural folks in attaining genuine agrarian reform. This triumph, was presented by the rural folks through abundant harvest, and festivities. So that Instead of flowers held by Reyna Elena, agricultural products of the farmers, an array of vegetables, fruits, grains, roots crops were carried by women farmers in bilaos and other native baskets.@

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Peasant mothers dance Curacha against Chacha

On Mothers Day
Peasant mothers dance Curacha against Chacha and demand free land distribution

On the occasion of Mother’s Day celebration, some 20 landless peasant mothers identified with Amihan, a national peasant federation of peasant women danced Curacha in front of the Philippine Congress to protest a plan for a charter change that will bestow 100% ownership of land to foreigners in reference to the Chacha resolution– House Resolution 737 chiefly authored by House Speaker Prospero Nograles.

Amihan chairperson Carmen Buena the symbolic dance activity was also meant for the enactment of Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill No. 3059, a bill filed by the progressive representatives in Congress from Bayan Muna, Gabriela and Anakpawis partylists. The controversial bill which landlords in Congress described as a “class war” provides for free distribution of land to landless farmers, grants land rights to women farmers and sufficient support services for them to make their lands truly productive.

The Amihan peasant women leader said they interpreted Curacha, a traditional Filipino courtship dance, interpreted with a militant twist by demanding not wooing House Speaker Prospero Nograles and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to immediately enact GARB or House Bill 3059.

Buena said the Curacha dance is also a protest against Joint Resolution #1, signed by the House of Representatives and Senate, which aims to extend the life of the two decades old comprehensive agrarian reform program (CARP), which according to Amihan and allied groups had failed to distribute lands to the landless farmers.

Buena, a landless rice farmer herself from Pampanga said: “ We deplore the fact that Congress and the Senate are focusing their efforts in extending the CARP, a program which made use of billions of people’s money but never benefited the farmers.”

In the spirit of the militant tradition of Mothers Day in the 1900s, where women went to the streets to put to question policies inimical to the interest of mothers, the peasant mothers declared to continue pressing for the enactment of a genuine agrarian reform program and continue fighting government policies that make farmers poor and landless.

Children of farmers offered flowers and showered the peasant mothers with confettis in recognition of the great sacrifices mothers do, not only for their families, but also for the community and the society as a whole. ###

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Fish ban due to Balikatan in Bicol now in effect— Pamalakaya reports

Fish ban due to Balikatan in Bicol now in effect— Pamalakaya reports

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday said a Balikatan-induced fish ban in the form of curfew in three coastal towns— Tiwi, Tabaco and Malilipot, all in Albay province are now in progress affecting the fish capture activities of not less than 10,000 small fisherfolk.

The Balikatan-engineered fish ban in aid of curfew was the subject of this morning’s protest at the Department of Agriculture (DA), where fisherfolk activists denounced the fish ban. They asked Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap to recall fish ban and add his voice to the mounting opposition against the series of RP-US joint military exercises scheduled in Masbate, Sorsogon, Albay and Camarines Sur this April.

Around 15 activists from Pamalakaya, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Amihan peasant women federation and the student group Nnara-Youth roasted a huge “tambakol” fish at the main entrance gate of agriculture department in Quezon City. Pamalakaya said “tambakol is one of the fish species, small fisherfolk used to catch in the fishing waters of the region.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap also challenged Secretary Yap to call for the scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and reject the proposal of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Reform (BFAR) Region V officer in charge Celso del Soccoro to implement a Bicol-wide fish ban once the Balikatan exercises go on full blast this April.

“The curfew ordinance in Tiwi, Tabaco and Malilipot is being effectively utilized to effect a fish ban during the Balikatan exercises. The three coastal areas in Albay are being used as pilot areas for the Bicol wide fish ban in the name of the RP-US Balikatan exercises and the VFA,” added Hicap.

According to Pamalakaya vice-chair for Luzon Salvador France, the local government units and barangay officials have started implementing 9-hour fish curfew and fish ban from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am since February 23.

“Fishermen usually go to the sea for fishing from 8:00 in the evening and they will go back home in the morning of next day. That’s the normal practice. Now because there’s an ongoing curfew that subjects all people from all age groups, the fisherfolk are effectively banned from fishing. We don’t usually fish from 5:00 in the morning to 8:00 in the evening, which is the time table now set for all fishing activities in Tiwi, Tabacco and Malilipot,” said France.

France said the implementation of curfew in three coastal towns of Albay confirmed previous report that the DA and BFAR will impose a six-month fish ban in Bicol region beginning April in connection with Balikatan exercises.

“We ask Secretary Arthur Yap to clarify this matter. The fish ban is tantamount to massacre of Bicolano fisher people rights and livelihood. This not only illegal, unconstitutional and immoral, but also super diabolical and all-out evil and puppetry. The VFA should be abrogated in order to stop the mass production of mayhem to the people,” said Pamalakaya.

The militant group said if fish ban is totally effected all over the Bicol region, it will affect the livelihood of more than 100,000 small fishermen in the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate connecting the rich the fishing grounds of Albay Gulf, Ragay Gulf and Sorsogon Bay.

The US war ships are expected to carry some 3,000 regular US troops and personnel who will participate in the six-month joint military training.

Pamalakaya told Secretary Yap the six-month RP-US joint military exercises will affect the coastal municipalities and cities of Tiwi, Malilipot, Malinaw, Bacacay, Sto. Domingo, Manito, Rapu-Rapu, Legaspi City and Tabaco City in Albay province, and Prieto Diaz, Bacon, Gubat, Barcelona, Bulusan, Matnog, Casiguran, Bulan, Joban, Donsol, Pilar Magallanes, Castilla and Sorsogon City in Sorsogon province, and nearby coastal municipalities in Masbate province.

“We challenge Secretary Yap to rise above the occasion and add his voice against the Balikatan exercises in Bicol. The RP-US military exercises cannot and will never be a good substitute to the livelihood of the fisherfolk and the fish security of the people,” the group said.

“There’s no recourse for us but to face and fight this anti-fisherfolk Balikatan exercises in the sea, in the parliament of the street and in the court of public opinion. Over a hundred thousand fishermen will lose their livelihood to this crazy and shameful military stint known as Balikatan exercises. We will not allow this puppet government to sacrifice our rights and livelihood to please their Washington-based military puppeteer,” Pamalakaya said.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines is expected to mobilize thousands of government troops and impose its intimidating presence in fishing communities to provide blanket security to US troops participating in the joint military exercises,” the group said.

Pamalakaya also said the RP-US Balikatan exercises were not only meant to gain future access to guerilla fronts maintained by the CPP and the NPA. The group said the joint military training exercises will also cover intelligence and military operations against militant groups in the region which the AFP and the US State Department labeled as front organizations of the CPP in the Bicol region.

“The sinister agenda of Balikatan exercises include intelligence work on various people’s organizations, their leaders and mass members highly critical of US military and economic interests in the Philippines, and very vocal against the reactionary troops and ruling puppet regime in Malacañang. This is Vietnam War in the making,” the group added. #

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Farmers commemorate 22nd year of Mendiola Massacre with burning of 1,500 photos of Arroyo

Farmers commemorate 22nd year of Mendiola Massacre with burning of 1,500 photos of Arroyo

Around 1,500 leftwing farmers identified with Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and Alyansa ng Mga Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) commemorate the 22nd year anniversary of Mendiola Massacre by burning 1,500 pictures of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The farmers marched from the national office of the Department of Agrarian Reform in Quezon City before going to Mendiola before proceeding to Mendiola.

“This is a political statement in honor of the 13 martyrs of Mendiola and millions of Filipino farmers who are victims of state repression and who are still struggling for land and justice. We want President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to perish in the fires of hell,” said KMP deputy secretary general Willy Marbella.

Marbella, together with other leaders of the fisherfolk group Pamalakaya, Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Amihan women peasant federation, Anakpawis party list, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and other militant organizations under the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan led protesters in burning 1,500 photos of the President, whom they described as the no.1 class enemy of Filipino farmers.

Marbella said aside from genuine land reform program and justice to all victims of Mendiola Massacre and political repression, the farmers are also calling for the immediate passage of Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 3059.

The KMP leader asserted that GARB so far is the only progressive proposed piece of agrarian reform bill in the entire history of Congress. He said the heart and soul of GARB is free land distribution to all landless, land-lacking and willing-to-till farmers all over the country, which is not present in any previous agrarian reform laws and programs in the Philippines including CARP.

Marbella said just compensation will be given to landowners, except those involving sullied landholdings, or land holdings acquired to fraud, deception, intimidation, or the use of force or violence, and landholdings whose landowners employ oppressive and exploitative practices on their tenants, agricultural workers or other farmers tilling the land.

He added that enlightened landlords will be allowed to maintain five hectares under GARB provided that they will till the land and will not employ and exploit landless farmers or agricultural workers. “The implementation of genuine land reform and the passage of GARB as a social justice legislative agenda were envisioned by the farmers who joined the march to Mendiola 22 years ago. Please allow us to set the record straight that the farmers, including the victims of Mendiola Massacre did not demand for the bogus, anti-farmer and pro-landlord CARP,” the KMP stressed.

After their 7-day camped out at the Ministry of Agrarian Reform (now Department of Agrarian Reform or DAR), from January 15-21, 1987 on January 22, leaders and members of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), numbering about 15,000 decided to march from the agrarian reform office to Liwasang Bonifacio and then to Mendiola.

In Mendiola, military and police elements open fired and peppered the farmers and their sympathizers with bullets. Thirteen marchers, mostly farmers from Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog regions were killed and identified as Danilo Arjona, Leopoldo Alonzo, Adelfa Aribe, Dionisio Bautista, Roberto Caylao, Vicente Campomanes, Ronilo Dumanico, Dante Evangelio, Angelito Gutierrez, Rodrigo Grampan, Bernabe Laquindanum, Sonny Boy Perez and Roberto Yumul.

Aside from the 13 farmers who were killed by state security forces, reports also said 39 marchers sustained gunshot wounds and 32 sustained minor injuries. #

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