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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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DAR promised to look into farmer’s landlessness

By Axel Pinpin, contributor

Mnaila, Philippines-In a dialogue yesterday with the farmers, Sec. Nasser C. Pangandaman of the Department of Agrarian Reform promised to look into the wide scale conversion of farm lands in Southern Tagalog.

The militant KASAMA-TK criticized what they called ‘one of the nailed promises of DAR.’ Imelda Lacandazo, spokesperson of KASAMA-TK said that they have been hearing promises from the agency decades ago. “Sec. Pangandaman is the ultimate liar; he cannot assure that DAR will study the agrarian disputes our group presented because recently he declared that he already approved the application of 43,000 hectares of farm lands for conversion.”

Lacandazo’s group is pressing DAR to cancel all conversion order especially after typhoon Ondoy hit most of the agricultural area in the region.

KASAMA-TK together with the leaders of their provincial chapters presented several agrarian cases in a day-long dialogue with the DAR secretary. Among them is the controversial Hacienda Looc estate in Nasugbu, Batangas being developed by Henry Sy. It involves 8,650 hectares of productive rice field, the farmer’s group said.

Outside the DAR office, more than 300 farmers staged a die-in to dramatize their call for a genuine agrarian reform in the country.

“The 70% of the country’s population needed a radical and pro-farmer land reform not a bogus reform for the landlords and foreign investors,” Lacandazo said, referring to RA 9700, the enacted law after the lower house and senate approved the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) bill.

Earlier, other groups held a dialogue with Director Nilo Tamoria of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

PAMALAKAYA from Southern Tagalog is demanding DENR to stop the construction of the R1 Coastal Road Extension in Bacoor, Cavite and the mothballed Laiban Dam in Tanay, Rizal, expressing their concern on the aftermath of the two typhoons that hit the country.

The group walked-out of the dialogue after Tamoria declared that the DENR cannot do anything about the project.

The farmers built a camp-out in front of the DAR building and will join the other farmers from Central Luzon today. They will be marching to Mendiola for the culmination of their week-long protest. October 16-21 is declared as Peasant Week in the country.#

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Calamity stricken farmers burned 1,000 photos of surfing Gloria

By Lollipop de los Reyes and Billy Javier Reyes

Manila, Philippines-Some 1,000 reproduced photos of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo showing her surfing in Argao Island in Mindanao will be burned by calamity affected farmers in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog in today’s rally set at the footbridge of Mendiola in Manila.

Rally organizers led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK), Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) and Anakpawis party list said the mass burning of the presidential photo taken during a surfing event in Mindanao is a collective display of rural people’s outrage against the Arroyo government.

“Arroyo’s land reform remains anti-farmer and super reactionary. The recently passed agrarian reform law known as Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms is a land reform for big landlords and big business,” said KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos in a press statement.

The KMP leader added: “Complicating and exacerbating this long running nightmare is the seemingly endless episode of calamity and disaster perpetrated by the transnational clients of Malacanang and the unbridled greed of Arroyo and her gang for fat kickbacks.”

Ramos complained government relief and rehabilitation efforts for calamity devastated farmers and fisherfolk in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog were not that substantial to cause significant impact on the lives of calamity stricken people in the countryside. “President Arroyo is exploiting the sorry situation of the people for political makeover and image building purposes. That is catastrophe by itself,” he said.

The 1,000 farmers will be joined by another 1,000 Manila based activists mostly urban poor, workers and students during the scheduled long march from Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) national office in Quezon City to Don Chino bridge in Manila. The marchers will include activists from the fisherfolk alliance Pamalakaya, Amihan peasant women federation, Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, the support group Nnara-Youth and member organizations of the umbrella alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).

KMP and allied groups the rural people’s 10-pt demand to address current rural crisis across the country

1. The junking of Carper law and the free distribution of land to landless and land lacking farmers all over the country. In particular, farmers from Central Luzon represented by AMGL demanded the immediate and unconditional free distribution of 375 hectares of land in San Miguel, Bulacan allegedly landgrabbed by Rep. Luis Villafuerte, the 3,100 hectares of prime agricultural lands inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation and the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita owned by the family of the late President Corazon Aquino in Tarlac province.

In Southern Tagalog, peasant groups demanded the free distribution of all agricultural lands owned and controlled by rich families like the Ayalas and the Yulos in the region. Kasama-TK also pressed the government to stop all Calabarzon bred projects in Southern Tagalog, including the controversial Laiban dam project.

2. Support repair and construction of homes of farmers and rural people destroyed or uprooted at the height of tropical storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng.
3. Rehabilitation of farms and granting of seeds and seedlings for rice, corn, vegetables and other farm crops
4. Financial grant of about P 10,000 to P 15,000 per hectare
5. Zero interest credit line to the Land Bank of the Philippines amounting to P 10,000 to
P 15,000 per hectare
6. Provisions for farm implements such as tractors, hand tractors and carabaos for free.
7. Setting up of potable water supply.
8. A halt if not moratorium on irrigation fees imposed by the National Irrigation Authority and private irrigation systems.
9. Livelihood to rural people
10. Automatic repudiation of farm debts, if not moratorium in payment of principals and interests on acquired loans from landlords and local financial institutions

The KMP official said they will campaign the 10-point omnibus demands by pursuing aggressive lobby work in concerned government agencies, including the Senate and the House of Representatives and mass mobilizations in the streets, asserting the immediate and long term demands are matters of life and death to farmers and the rest of the rural people.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) reported that damage to property brought by storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng reached the P 16-billion mark. The disaster agency said P 11. 68 billion of the damage or 72% represents total damage to local agriculture, while P 4.68 billion or 28 percent represents damage to infrastructure. #

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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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Philippine extended land reform law will spur reversals not reforms

Editorial: The Pamalakaya Times
Philippine extended land reform law will spur reversals not reforms

Last week, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the recently passed law that extends the life of the twenty year old Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program or the Carper law, which she hyped as a landmark piece of legislation.

The signing of the extended land reform law was witnessed by a crowd of farmer beneficiaries, agrarian reform officials and employees mobilized by the local agrarian reform agencies and local government officials and key leaders of the legislative branch headed by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, House Speaker Prospero Nograles and bill author Senator Gregorio Honasan.

President Arroyo said reforms are well placed in the extended land reform law to ensure farmer beneficiaries will be able to get parcels of land that they have been waiting over the last two decades and that enough provisions for support services were incorporated to help them raise productivity and increase dwarfed incomes by hundreds of percent to alleviate poverty in the rural areas.

RA 9700 according to Arroyo aims to distribute 1.2 million hectares of still undistributed private lands to more than 700,000 farmer beneficiaries in the next five years from 2009 to 2014, which her government regarded as a fitting tribute to former President Corazon Aquino, whose term the CARP was conceived.

But a study session on the possible impact of Carper law to Filipino farmers revealed the new land reform law has nothing to offer but wholesale denial of peasant land rights, across-the-country land reform reversals and the land reform law will usher a heighten era of political repression in the countryside rather that completes the cycles of social justice.

Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano, the farmer activist turned lawmaker opined that the Carper law is so far the worst and most reactionary and anti-Filipino farmer law that was ever crafted by Philippine legislation since 1946 or 63 years since the first agrarian reform program was introduced by the Manila government in the post World War II era.

“The Carper law is not a social justice piece of legislation. It is a shotgun piece of lawmaking that seeks to perpetuate social injustice and landlessness in the country. It is more deadly than the previous land reform law. How can you expect land reform in the new agrarian reform law if its’ running objective is to distribute lands to landlords, real estate agents, land speculators and foreign investors?” the 49 year old farmer legislator said during the study forum on Carper law.

Mariano asserted that “the so-called industrialization” in the Carp extension with reforms (Carper) was a “gross distortion.” The peasant lawmaker, who is a veteran of farmer led street protests since the 1908s asserted that “the industrialization in Carper is not based on the free distribution of lands to empower farmers but on the anticipated influx of foreign agribusinesses and massive land-use conversion.

The peasant legislator further reduced the Carper law into a legal monster that would fortify feudal exploitation in the rural areas all over the Philippines. Citing the newly signed law’s Section 1 “Declaration of Principles and Policies,” Mariano said, “the sell-out of vast tracts of agricultural lands to local and foreign agribusinesses and land-use conversion are now elevated as state policies.”

“The State shall promote industrialization and full employment based on sound agricultural development and agrarian reform, through industries that make full and efficient use of human and natural resources, and which are competitive in both domestic and foreign markets: Provided, that the conversion of agricultural lands into industrial, commercial, or residential lands shall take into account tillers’ rights and national food security.” the law stated.

The same section of the law also states that “the State recognizes that there is not enough agricultural land to be divided and distributed to each farmer and regular farm worker so that each one can own his/her economic-size family farm.”

“Aside from conditioning farmers that there is not enough land for distribution, Carper hardened non-land transfer schemes like stock distribution option, land lease deals, and joint ventures, that further opened our agricultural lands to global land-grabbers,” Mariano said.

Four of the biggest rural based organizations in the country—the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, the fisherfolk alliance Pamalakaya, the agricultural labor group Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura and the peasant women federation Amihan agreed with Mariano’s critical views and analysis demolishing the myths of the extended land reform law.

In a joint statement sent to Manila based reporters, the four groups said the signing of Carper law by President Arroyo is an across-the-nation tragedy, further dismissing the extended agrarian reform law as collective death certificate to millions of landless farmers in the Philippines. The groups said, the Carper law by design, by nature and by purpose merely strengthens the feudal power of the landlords in the countryside.

Opponents of the extended land reform law have sounds arguments in rejecting the Carper law. The compulsory acquisition in Carper is just a myth. Under the extended agrarian reform law, the Filipino landlords and their foreign clients, including multinational corporations currently leasing agricultural lands for export production enjoy vast powers and privileges to protect their landholdings and even expand it through landgrabbing and other means of deception.

After acquiring the seal of approval from the landlords, the farmer beneficiaries should go to the city or municipal judge to swear under oath that he or she will perform his or her obligation and duties to pay for the monthly amortization and she or he will make the lands productive.

“What if the landlords reject them as farmer beneficiaries? What will happen to the farmer beneficiaries? The Carper is a throwback to the old medieval feudal Europe where farmers are working as slaves and obliged to treat landlords as if they are heaven sent or agents of God. This is extremely revolting,” the groups echoed.

Critics of the extended land reform law further likened the Carper law into a huge “no trespassing billboard” preventing farmers and other agrarian reform beneficiaries to till the land and enjoy the fruit of their hard work. They said the extended land reform law has no substantial reforms to speak and was merely cloaked on sweetened phrases just to make it appear acceptable to farmers.

The Carper law will intensify denial of farmers land rights and will usher a heightened era of political repression in the countryside. This law will subject the struggling farmers to an endless cycle of landlessness and state violence in partnership with the landlords courtesy of provisions criminalizing the peasant fight for genuine agrarian reform.

Given this development in the Philippine agrarian landscape, we expect the Filipino peasantry to rise above the occasion and wage a more determined and more raging battle in and out of Congre

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DAR paid ad on CARP meant for fund generation campaign

DAR paid ad on CARP meant for fund generation campaign

Groups opposed to the extension of the 20-year old Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) on Monday said the full-page advertisement which appeared in major broadsheets this week were paid for by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to convince foreign donors agencies to continue funding the agrarian reform program of the government.

“To make it simple and understandable, DAR merely wants funding agencies abroad to invest more billions of pesos for CARP implementation and support services in the tradition of the
P 76.2 billion foreign donors had shelled over the last 20 years. In other words, it is just another money making scheme,” anti-CARP groups Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Pamalakaya fisherfolk alliance, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Amihan peasant federation said in a joint press statement.

“Whether agrarian reform secretary Nasser Pangandaman admits it or not, the paid advertisements which ran in millions of pesos of taxpayers money were part of the sinister scheme to acquire more funds and more loans abroad for the current corrupt regime of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” the groups said.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos noticed that in the paid advertisement, DAR put more emphasis on the need of CARP to sustain funding for support services, adding that the DAR, in a way admitted that it would no longer give premium to land distribution and would focus more on foreign funded and assisted projects ranging from support infrastructures and maintenance of so-called agrarian reform communities for fund drive abroad.

“This is a money making racket sanctioned by the bureaucracies in and out of Malacañang and in and out of DAR. This is money making at its best,” said Ramos.

The KMP leader also questioned the claim of DAR that it was able to distribute 7.2 million hectares of land to 4.5 million farmers over the last 20 years under CARP, while the truth is more than half of the 7 million hectares target for land distribution were already reverted back to the former landlords or transferred to new private owners in the form of cancellation of land titles, land use conversions and other forms of land grabbing and agrarian reform reversals.

“In fact vast tracts of land remained in the hands of few landed monopolies both local and foreign. DAR spin doctors are trying to make a glossy picture out of the sorry state of land reform in the country,” added Ramos.

For his part, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap challenged DAR secretary Pangandaman to identify the beneficiaries and the exact locations of the beneficiaries where the so-called physical land transfer or land distribution.

The Pamalakaya leader said an audit performance is highly necessary to prove if there is really truth to the claim of DAR that it was able to distribute 7.2 million hectares of land to 4.5 million farmer beneficiaries.

“DAR has this two-decade long record of doctoring the agrarian reform statistics to show to the people of the country and the international community that agrarian reform really existed in the country over the last 20 years,” Hicap added.

According to accomplishment report of DAR, the government under CARP was able to provide tools for productivity to 5,961 farmers organizations and cooperatives and benefited 709,219 members. It also said 2,595 organizations availed of the P 4.736 billion credit support provided by the agrarian reform department.

The DAR report also cited other accomplishment reports such as the construction of 6,577 farm-to-market roads, 976 irrigation systems, 428 units of post-harvest facilities, 194 multi-purpose buildings, 6 flood control projects and 174 bridges.

KMP, Pamalakaya and other staunch allies are calling for the junking of CARP, and have rejected moves to extend the 20-year old agrarian reform program, including the scrapping of Joint Resolution No.1 that extended CARP for another six months without compulsory acquisition.

Instead the groups are calling for the passage of Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 3059 authored by the late Anakpawis party list Rep. Crispin Beltran and co-authored by Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño and Gabriela partly list lawmakers Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan.

The meat of GARB is the free distribution of lands to landless, land-lacking and willing to till farmers with enough guaranteed security of tenure protection, production subsidies and support services. #

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Southern Tagalog farmers play “golf” and deliver “above par” protest to call for DAR chief resignation

Southern Tagalog farmers play “golf” and deliver “above par” protest to call for DAR chief resignation

Around 80 farmers belonging to the militant peasant group Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) held a golf session this morning in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Elliptical Road in Quezon City to call for urgent resignation of agrarian reform secretary Nasser Pangandaman.

“Mr. Pangandaman is like the 20-year old Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program or CARP. He is bogus, pro-landlord and anti-farmer. Since CARP is dead and he has no business in staying inside DAR, we suggest him to immediately leave his office and go on a permanent vacation,” Kasama-TK spokesperson Imelda Lacandazo said in a press statement.

Lacandazo, also vice-chairperson of the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said “the golf inspired above par performance” of the Southern Tagalog farmers is meant to denounce the various golf projects undertaken by the unholy alliance of Malacañang, the DAR and the Ayala group of companies, which is the owner and private developer of almost all golf projects in the region.

Kasama-TK and KMP said DAR allowed the Ayala group to deny peasant land rights to land, landgrab farms and convert these agricultural lands into golf courses for big business groups and their investor-clients. They said tens of thousands of farmers in these golf course areas will be evicted to pave way for Ayala golf courses.

According to both groups, the Ayala real estate group is planning to construct three major golf courses in the province of Rizal, Laguna and Batangas, particularly in Macabud, Rizal where a 36-hole golf course will be constructed inside the 2,800 hectare farmland, also inside the 7,100 hectare Hacienda Yulo in Canlubang, Laguna and inside the 8,650-hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas.

“These are big ticket items for the golfing republic of the corrupt, pro-landlord and anti-peasant regime of President Arroyo. This time it is our turn to stage this symbolic protest action against any kind of land use conversion and landgrabbing spree in the region,” Lacandazo said ,as she led her peasant colleagues in hitting the “golf balls” bearing the names of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Pangandaman and their incorrigible golfing partners,” they added.

After the “golf session” the farmers proceeded to and staged a day long protest at the House of Representatives in Batasan Complex to challenge House Speaker Prospero Nograles and the House leadership to immediately tackle the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 3059, which they said was intentionally sidelined by the House Committee on Agriculture for nearly 14 months.

GARB, which is backed by KMP, Kasama-TK and staunch allies like Pamalakaya fishers group, the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Amihan peasant federation was authored by the late Anakpawis party list Rep. Crispin Beltran, and co-authored by 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.

The bill if enacted will facilitate the coverage of all agricultural lands and have these lands distributed for free to landless, land lacking and willing-to-till peasants across-the-country. #

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