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Rural groups kicked off own relief caravan to Central Luzon

By Roy Morilla, Mama Mila Liguasan and TC Concepcion

Quezon City- Rural based groups headed by the farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Anakpawis party list today kicked off a three-day, four-vehicle relief caravan in Central Luzon provinces billed as Peasant Caravan for Land and Justice.

Organizers of the 3-day caravan led by KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos and Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente said the relief operations to be conducted in the provinces of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac is just part of the comprehensive political program to be carried by caravan protesters.

“The relief operation is just a segment of the entire political program. The main content of the 3-day peasant caravan is the peasant call and solidarity for genuine land reform and social justice and the presentation of the farmers’ 9-point omnibus demands for calamity victims in countryside,” KMP’s Ramos and Anakpawis’ Clemente said in a joint statement.

“Our demands clearly include about support in housing, rehabilitation of farms, grant of seeds and seedlings for rice, corn, vegetables and other farmers’ crops, financial assistance of about P10,000 to P15,000 per hectare, a credit line to the Land Bank of the Philippines amounting to P10,000 to P15,000 per hectare, tractors, hand-tractors and carabao, setting-up of potable water supply, one year or equivalent to the value of two successive croppings moratorium on irrigation fees to National Irrigation Authority and private irrigation systems and livelihood to seasonal farmworkers, ” the caravan leaders said.

As this developed, the relief caravan to be undertaken by Malacanang and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Monday, where a hundred of truckloads of relief goods will be make their way to Northern Luzon to aid victims of typhoon Pepeng was postponed due to typhoon Ramil. The government’s own relief drive is supposed to benefit 500,000 affected families.

Social welfare secretary Esperanza Cabral said the relief goods will be distributed to victims of Pepeng in 19 provinces in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), but because of typhoon Ramil which is expected to hit Northern Luzon this week, the department decided to cancel Monday’s relief caravan to Northern Luzon.

KMP and Anakpawis in cooperation with allied groups Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Amihan peasant women federation, Nnara-Youth, Migrante International, All UP Workers Union and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines will only distribute a little over 400 relief packs for the same number of families in San Miguel, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

“Our modest relief efforts for our members in Central Luzon, particularly in San Miguel town in Bulacan, for Fort Magsaysay and southern towns of Nueva Ecija, and for the agricultural workers of Hacienda Luisita is one way of expressing our irrevocable concern for the peasants and the rural people devastated by the state and profit driven escapades. The political message is the more important thing which is genuine land reform, the solution to current predicament confronted by landless farmers,” the peasant caravan organizers added.

Today, KMP and Anakpawis caravan participants will stay in a peasant community in San Miguel, Bulacan and will have a solidarity night with farmers facing land dispute with Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte, whom they accused of landgrabbing some 375 hectares of land in the area. They will also distribute 200 packs of relief goods to 200 farmer families.

Tomorrow the caravan will traverse the municipality of Gapan and the rest of the southern towns of Nueva Ecija on their way to Cabanatuan City to protest landgrabbing activities of big landlords inside the 7,100 Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Laur. Nueva Ecija. They will also hand out some 62 relief packs to the KMP chapter in Nueva Ecija. From Cabanatuan City, the caravan protesters will proceed to Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac and they are expected to be at the sugar hacienda owned by the family of the late President Corazon Aquino by late afternoon.

KMP and Anakpawis said they will distribute some 158 relief packs to affected sugar workers in Hacienda Luisita.

On October 20, the caravan protesters will travel back to Manila, and will pass through several towns of Tarlac, Pampanga and Bulacan provinces namely Bamban and Concepcion in Tarlac, Magalang, Mabalacat and San Fernando in Pampanga, and Calumpit, Malolos and Bocaue in Bulacan on their way back to Manila.

On the same day, the caravan protesters will meet peasant protesters at the Department of Agrarian Reform for a solidarity night, and on October 21, they will march from DAR to Mendiola in Manila. #

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Critics see 2010 polls in GMA’s P 12-B subsidy for poor families

Critics see 2010 polls in GMA’s P 12-B subsidy for poor families

Rabid critics of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo dismissed the presidential allocation of P 12-B subsidy for poor families under the Pantawid Gutom program as an early campaign election fund aimed at boosting the chances of Palace favored bets in the 2010 elections.

“P 12 billion is P 12 billion. That’s a lot of money for national and local candidates running under the corrupt and immoral party of President Arroyo in 2010′, said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Hicap added:” The promotional blitz for Malacañang backed national candidates will take a free ride from this nationally orchestrated charity and dole out offensive of President Arroyo to improve their chances of winning in 2010.”

The Pamalakaya leader theorized the electoral target of the Malacañang for potential votes are the 3.7 million poorest families in the country who could constitute between 7.4 million to 10 million votes enough.

“President Arroyo will make avail of all resources available for her disposition to boost the winning chances of her political lapdogs in 2010 elections for her own political survival. And this is the political purpose of the P 12-B fund,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya said the P 12-billion budget for poor families should be scrutinized during the budget hearings for the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) and other related budget items such as the Internal REvenue Allotment.

The group said the House of Representatives should also make an inquiry on how and what are the impacts of previous pro-poor projects of the government, and if these projects consisting of one-time P 500 subsidy really improved rhe quality of life of the people.

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya last week said the P 12 billion subsidy for poor families is included in the proposed P1.541-trillion 2010 national budget or more than double this year’s allocation of P5 billion.

Andaya said the program targets another 1 million poor families as beneficiaries. Under Pantawid Gutom progam, each beneficiary receives a one-time financial subsidy of at least P500.

In the past, Mrs. Arroyo ordered the grant of P500 assistance to help poor families in Metro Manila and the province pay for their electricity bills.
Last year, senior citizens all over the country get thei P 500 one-time assistance fund from the government. #

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