Tag Archives: Danilo Ramos

KMP nixes decline in rice output

By the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

Manila, Philippines-The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) raised that government is exaggerating the effects of “El Nino” to justify huge increases in rice imports, estimated to reach 3 million metric tons (MT) exceeding the previous limit of 2.4 million MT. Also, the group said that non-irrigation is a chronic problem in rice cultivation ever since and should not be totally blamed to “El Nino.” The group said that the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has only irrigated 1.4 million hectares or 46% of the total irrigable lands of 3.1 million has. in the country.

“Dry season is a classic problem of the peasants during farming. The problem is not totally the climate but majorly the absence of irrigation facilities and support to the farmers. NIA has negligible irrigation projects and some are just on paper, worse, some are being charged even their farms are not irrigated,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General in a press statement.

KMP said that though the country was faced with incessant typhoons, agricultural rice output in 2009 has no dramatic shortfall, 10.56 million MT from 10.93 million MT in 2008, a 362,000 MT fall. It is also higher than 2007 level of 10.56 million MT.

The group also said that 2009 farmgate price of rice based on Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) was pegged at P14.66 per kg, only a P0.74 or 5.32% increase from 2008 price of P13.92 per kg. This figures show that a significant decline did not occur as farmgate price only increased minimally compared to the increase of 2008 of P2.71 per kg or 24.17% from 2007 price of P11.21 per kg. The group said that it is evident that the monopsony of traders on bulk supply of rice depress farmgate prices to squeeze huge profits in selling rice.

“If there was a market-shaking decline, the farmgate prices should have increase appropriately. But government data showed that traders had the power to keep the buying price down, meaning there is no decline in supply,” said Ramos.

“The government is plainly portraying a doomsday picture of our rice supply to sway public opinion towards importation. The fundamentals are that farmers own no lands and traders use their political and economic power to depress farm products. Also, massive imports have empowered traders to further underprice palay from farmers,” Ramos said.

The group also said that the price of local rice should be at the range of P29.32 per kg, in contrast to Vietnam rice of P20.75 to P26.28 per kg ($1=P41.115) based on quotes of Vietnames exporters of $450 to $570 per MT on end of January 2010. While Thailand rice pegs at P21.21 to P27.25 per kg based on Int’l. Rice Research Institute (IRRI) prices of $460 to $591 per MT on December 2009.

“Imported rice already nears the price of local rice even before it reaches the country. When transport and other costs are to be added, it would surely jack up and the landing price would surely be more expensive than locally-produced rice, so definitely, the National Food Authority (NFA) imports rice not because it is cheaper, but to follow the government’s policy of liberalization and commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO),” said Ramos.

Moreover, the group said that import levels are eating up a big chunk of the share in the national consumption, thus, shattering food security and developing food dependency from outside sources. In 2008, import rice compose 16% of the consumed rice, a 26.8% increase from its 2007 share of 12.3%.

“NFA should purchase more of the local as it would help the country’s rice farmers, unlike importation where we already throw our dollars outside the economy, it even competes with the locally-produced. The government should pull back the effects of liberalization and focus on improving agriculture for food production and not for export. Without food security, people would definitely revolt to find one,” he said. #

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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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Noynoy told: “Distribute Luisita now, not in 2014

By Makisig Corrales, Lala Lichugas and Trinity Biglang Awa

Manila, Philippines-Rural based militant groups on Wednesday told Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Sen, Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III and his family– the landlord Cojuangco-Aquino clan they should distribute the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita sugar estate to 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries now and not on 2014 as proposed by the front running presidential candidate.

In a manifesto signed by the farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Luisita (Ambala), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), Amihan peasant women federation, Anakpawis party list, Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) and the leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said Aquino was merely taking Luisita workers into a roller coaster ride by making them believe that the Cojuangco-Aquino clan has decided to yield effective control of the sugar estate to farm workers by 2014.

“Why wait for 2014 if they can relinquish their immoral and unlawful control of Hacienda Luisita anytime today, tomorrow or next week? We will not buy this gimmick. He is politically hurt by issues ranged against him on hacienda, and he just issued this eyebrow raising, jaw dropping statement to stop the dropping trend in his ratings at the electoral box-office”, said KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos in behalf of the groups.

At a press conference held in his family’s ancestral home in Concepcion, Tarlac, Noynoy told reporters that he had convinced members of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan to prepare for the turnover of the sugar estate to farm worker beneficiaries by June 2014.

Aquino spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said his principal is committed to distribute the land to farm worker beneficiaries at the end of the extended Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carper). Lacierda stressed that the decision was made because of principle and not just a campaign promise.

“That’s baloney. Where’s the logic behind that promise? The free distribution of Hacienda Luisita should take place now. The 2014 agrarian deadline is highly questionable and grossly unacceptable,” added Ramos.

Before Congress recessed on Feb.5, leaders of UMA, ULWU and AMGL trooped to Senate and sent a letter of appeal urging Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to re-open the Hacienda Luisita case particularly the controversial Stock Distribution Option (SDO) which was sneaked in by former President Corazon Aquino to gain effective control of Luisita.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said said on June 8, 1989, Enrile, then Senate Minority Leader in his privilege speech questioned Executive Order 229 allowing Hacienda Luisita to evade distribution of Hacienda Luisita to farm workers by signing EO 229 placing the entire sugar estate under SDO scheme where farmers become nominal stock holders instead of having physical possession of lands.

“Hacienda Luisita is a history of long-running deception by the Cojuangco-Aquino clan. It is time to end this prime time and triple platinum betrayal of peasant interest and welfare,” he said.

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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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Lakbayan marchers hurdle PNP checkpoints

By Roy Morilla in Sorsogon City
and Trinity Biglang Awa in Manila

Organizers of the 10-day Pambansang Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para Sa Lupa at Katarungan on Saturday said the 170 marching farmers from Mindanao, Panay and Negros islands, Eastern Visayas and Central Visayas have been subjected to series of police checkpoints just to pass towns and municipalities on their way to the National Capital Region.


In text messages sent to Manila, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) secretary general Danilo Ramos said since day one of the Lakbayan, which officially kicked off in Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City, the peasant caravan and march frequently encountered checkpoints, and their vehicles were searched and checked by firearms carrying policemen and government troops as if the farmers are carrying high power rifles and explosives with them.

“The checkpoints are practically everywhere, as if this government is gearing for another all-out war and not for the May 2010 elections,” the KMP leader added. According to Ramos, the Lakbayan caravan and march hurdled checkpoints from Davao City to Butuan City and Surigao City, and from Surigao City to Liloan and Tacloban City in Leyte, and in Calbayog, Catbalogan and Catarman in Samar island before they reached the port in Allen, Northern Samar.

Last night, the PNP Sorsogon stopped the caravan from reaching the city. A negotiation was held between the police authorities and leaders of Lakbayan headed by Anakpawis party list Rep. Joel Maglunsod. After 20 minutes of negotiation, the Lakbayan was finally allowed to proceed in Sorsogon City past 8:00 last night.

This morning, the Lakbayan was stopped by policemen manning the PNP checkpoint in Castilla, Sorsogon, but through the intercession of Rep. Maglunsod and the insistence of caravan and march organizers, the marching peasants were allowed to proceed to Daraga and Legaspi City. The incident happened between 9:00 am and 10:00 am.

However, in Barangay Bascaran, Daraga, Albay, 11 caravan vehicles were stopped by military and police checkpoint. As of press time, negotiations are ongoing between the police officials and Lakbayan organizers.

Anakpawis Rep. Maglunsod said the 10-day Lakbayan was announced a week ahead of the schedule and the police and the military were all informed about the legal and legitimate activity of the farmers. “This long running nightmare of checkpoints, harassment and not so intelligence gathering adventures of the PNP and the AFP have been the usual staples of the Arroyo government to frustrate the people’s assertion of their rights,” the militant lawmaker observed.

Rep. Maglunsod said the organizers are expecting more of the same when they reach Tagkawayan, Quezon by 10:00 am tomorrow.

In a related development, the KMP, the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and Anakpawis party list said the Comelec decision exempting Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGUs) from gun and perform checkpoint functions is extremely dangerous.

“The Comelec decision exempting CAFGUs from the total gun ban is a major political, legal and moral blunder. The poll body merely puts a legal blanket to the killing spree and human rights violation activities of these paramilitary units, which they perform in accordance with the cruel intention and sinister agenda of the sitting presidency in Malacanang, the pro-Arroyo military clique and their warlord allies,” the groups said in their statement.

They said the Comelec should disband these paramilitary groups due to their long-running violations of human rights at any given period. “The best way to address the issue is to call for the immediate and unconditional disbandment of CAFGUs, period, period, period,” the groups said.

“Please allow us to reiterate the record straight–57 people were massacred by CAFGU forces in Maguindanao last year. Is that a joke or a remote incident to Comelec? Where is their sense of human rights, justice and political sensibility?” Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente added.

Comelec commissioner Lucenito Tagle yesterday said the CAAs are allowed to carry firearms because they are considered units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which are exempted from the nationwide gun ban imposed by the poll body during election period.

Organizers of Pambansang Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para sa Lupa at Katarungan said aside from land and justice and concrete issues and struggles on agrarian reform, the grueling 10-day long caravan and long march from different parts of Mindanao, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Panay, Negros, Bicol, Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, Ilocos, Cordillera and Cagayan Valley regions to the National Capital Region will also call for the dismantling of CAFGU units across the country.

Under Comelec resolution 8742 made effective last January 11, amending Resolution 8714, the CAFGU was exempted from gun ban along with members of the Presidential Security Group, Bureau of Fire Protection, Optical Media Board, the treasurers and deputy treasurers and members of the Internal Security Division of the Bureau of Treasury.

Prior to Comelec promulgation of Resolution 8714, Rear Admiral Alexander Pama, commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao opposed the disarming of CAAs because these paramilitary groups are tapped by fishing companies to secure their venture in the South. For his part, Lt. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, chief of Western Command said as far as the military is concerned, the CAFGUs are part of the military organization and not all CAFGUs are utilized by private companies operating in far flung areas.

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Manila bound marching farmers slam poll body’s ok for CAFGU to carry arms in May 2010 elections

By Roy Morilla, Lakbayan pointperson in Mindanao
and Gerry Albert Corpuz, senior reporter, The Pamalakaya Times

Davao City, Philippines-Organizers of the 10-day Pambansang Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para sa Lupa at Katarungan on Wednesday assailed the decision of the Commission on Election (Comelec) exempting the Civilian Active Auxiliaries (CAA) from the total gun ban.

In a joint press statement, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and Anakpawis party list said the Comelec decision is extremely dangerous, politically incorrect and fatally flawed, asserting that these CAAs formerly known as Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGUs) are commissioned as private armies and armed goons by warlord politicians all over the country.

“The Comelec decision exempting CAFGUs from the total gun ban is a major political, legal and moral blunder. The poll body merely puts a legal blanket to the killing spree and human rights violation activities of these paramilitary units, which they perform in accordance with the cruel intention and sinister agenda of the sitting presidency in Malacanang, the pro-Arroyo military clique and their warlord allies,” the groups said in their statement.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said the correct treatment of Comelec in dealing with CAFGUs is to officially disband these paramilitary groups due to their long-running violations of human rights at any given period. “The best way to address the issue is to call for the immediate and unconditional disbandment of CAFGUs, period, period, period,” the KMP official said.

For her part, Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente said the tragic lessons drawn from the Nov.23 Maguindanao massacre last year should have compelled poll officials to direct the AFP to permanently dismantle all existing CAFGUs and quit from hiring fresh recruits to avoid if not minimize election related violence.

“Please allow us to reiterate the record straight–57 people were massacred by special CAA forces in Maguindanao last year. Is that a joke or a remote incident to Comelec? Where is their sense of human rights, justice and political sensibility?” Clemente added.

Comelec commissioner Lucenito Tagle yesterday said the CAAs are allowed to carry firearms because they are considered units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which are exempted from the nationwide gun ban imposed by the poll body during election period.
Organizers of Pambansang Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para sa Lupa at Katarungan said aside from land and justice and concrete issues and struggles on agrarian reform, the grueling 10-day long caravan and long march from different parts of Mindanao, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Panay, Negros, Bicol, Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, Ilocos, Cordillera and Cagayan Valley regions to the National Capital Region will also call for the dismantling of CAFGU units across the country.

Under Comelec resolution 8742 made effective last January 11, amending Resolution 8714, the CAFGU was exempted from gun ban along with members of the Presidential Security Group, Bureau of Fire Protection, Optical Media Board, the treasurers and deputy treasurers and members of the Internal Security Division of the Bureau of Treasury.

Prior to Comelec promulgation of Resolution 8714, Rear Admiral Alexander Pama, commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao opposed the disarming of CAAs because these paramilitary groups are tapped by fishing companies to secure their venture in the South. For his part, Lt. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, chief of Western Command said as far as the military is concerned, the CAFGUs are part of the military organization and not all CAFGUs are utilized by private companies operating in far flung areas.

As of press time, organizers said 50 peasant and fisherfolk activists belonging to KMP, Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list from Mindanao island will embark on their way to Liloan, Leyte, while the Visayan leg of the 10-day Lakbayan composed of 100 farmers and fishermen will start in Cebu before the caravan and march proceed to Calbayog City in Samar island.

From Samar, the joint contingent will proceed to Bicol on their way to Southern Tagalog and National Capital Region. The marchers are expected to cross Muntinlupa City on Jan.20 and will stage another long march on Jan.22 to Don Chino Roces in Manila on the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of Mendiola massacre.

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Luisita workers say Noynoy a hopeless case

By Jayjay Jaiho and Bb. Joyce Cabral

Manila, Philippines- “While Liberal Party presidential standard bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is no longer a hopeless romantic as far as the affairs of the heart are concerned, he is a hopeless case as far as striking workers of Hacienda Luisita workers are concerned,” according to leaders of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Anakpawis party list.

In a joint press statement, KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos, UMA spokesperson Lito Bais and Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente said the refusal of Sen. Aquino to recognize the rights of striking farmworkers and his rejection of the legitimate, lawful and morally upright demand for immediate and unconditional free distribution of the 6,453-hectare sugar estate to more than 8,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries betrayed the collective interest of the Filipino farmers all over the country.

“Noynoy will not give up their immoral claim and blood tainted control of Hacienda Luisita,” the militant leaders said.

The militant groups said the agenda calling for free distribution of Hacienda Luisita to farmworkers and other agrarian reform beneficiaries will be posed to other presidential candidates in the May 2010 elections that include Manuel Villar of Nacionalista Party, the closest rival of Aquino according to various surveys conducted by independent poll groups.

“The issues concerning Hacienda Luisita like the revocation of Stock Distribution Option, the immediate and free distribution of the 6,453-hectare sugar estate to land reform beneficiaries and the quest for justice for victims of the massacre on Nov.16, 2004 will be included in the peasant electoral agenda for 2010,” the groups said.

They said the family of Sen. Aquino failed to address and improve the lives of Luisita workers over the last three to four decades. According to them, daily take home pay of every farm worker in Hacienda Luisita is
P 9.50, which is not even enough to buy a half kilo of NFA rice.

Bais, the UMA spokesperson and acting president of the hacienda based United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) today announced that Hacienda Luisita will serve as a launching pad of Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para sa Lupa at Katarungan which will officially start on January 16 in Northern Philippines.

The Lakbayan will gather marching farmers from Ilocos, Cordillera, Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon regions on their way to National Capital Region on the occasion of the 23rd year anniversary of Mendiola Massacre.

Bais said on January 16, thousands of farmers and farmworkers from Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Abra, Benguet, Tarlac, Bataan, Zambales, Pampanga, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Viscaya, Isabela and Cagayan will mass up in Hacienda Luisita Park to signal the 7-day Lakbayan from Northern Luzon to NCR.

The UMA spokesman said farmers will then hold a caravan from Tarlac City to Angeles City and San Fernando City in Pampanga and will stage a vigil near Pampanga’s provincial capitol. From the capitol, farmers will stage a long march on their way to Malolos, Bulacan. They are expected to reach Monumento in Caloocan City on the afternoon of January 20, according to caravan and long march organizers.

Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) secretary general Joseph Canlas said aside from Hacienda Luisita, Central Luzon peasants will also expose and oppose the continuing landgrabbing activities by big landlords and the military in San Miguel, Bulacan and Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Laur, Nueva Ecija.

Canlas said farmers in Hacienda Sta. Isabel and Hacienda San Antonio in Isabela will also join the caravan and long march to press for the immediate distribution of big landholdings to landless farmers in the province.

In the South, Lakbayan organizers led by KMP and Anakpawis party list said around 750 farmers, fisherfolk, peasant women, agricultural workers and indigenous people from 10 regions in Mindanao, Panay, Negros, the Visayas and Bicol are expected to reach Lucena City by January 17, where they are expected to hold a solidarity vigil, which the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan- Southern Tagalog chapter (Bayan-ST) will host and sponsor.

Kasama-TK and Bayan- ST representing over 1,000 mobilization from the region will later join the marchers on their way to the National Capital region.

“This is history in the making”, organizers added.

“Land monopoly in the country has further aggravated and intensified the exploitation of our farmers. Imagine, because of landlessness, they are perennially subjected to pay 50 percent, or 1/3 or 1/4 of their gross harvest as land rent. But only 19 to 21 percent of the total produce goes to farmers. This sorry state of agrarian reform in the country will be vividly depicted during the 10-day farmers’ march from all over the country,” they said.

Organizers said the Lakbayan will also engage in mobile dissemination and propaganda campaign about the sorry condition of farm workers all over the country. She said daily income of rice farmers for the entire cropping season ranges from P 23 to P 40 per day.

On the other hand, KMP’s Ramos said in defense of their rights to land in pursuit of social justice, farmers are perpetually subjected to various forms of human rights violations, militarization and repression.

Latest data from Karapatan human rights group revealed that 561 farmers were victims of extrajudicial killings, 119 of them were leaders and members of KMP, while scores of internally displaced peasants due to all-out war, militarization and massacre; and cases of abducted farmers and falsely charged rural activists continue to flood the monitoring bulletins of human rights groups and the concerned public. #

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