Tag Archives: Kasama-TK

Land disputes hound Manila’s new agrarian chief

By Roy Morilla and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- At least seven cases of agrarian disputes mostly from Southern Tagalog region were presented today to newly installed Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes. In a dialogue with Secretary delos Reyes, the Southern Luzon based peasant group Kalipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid ng Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and its mother federation- the activist Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the farmer groups asked the new DAR chief to act swiftly on cases pertaining to land use conversions and cancellations of agrarian reform titles in the region.

Among the land dispute cases involving land use conversions, cancellations of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) and eviction of farmer beneficiaries include the 8,650 hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas which has been primed for eco-tourism projects and the 7,100 hectare prime agricultural land in Barangay Canlubang, Calamba City in Laguna province.

The other cases of agrarian disputes presented during the dialogue with DAR secretary include land reform reversals and land use conversions in Dasmarinas and Silang in Cavite province, the seedling projects in Montalban, Rizal and the conversion of Araneta owned lands in Barangay Tungkong Mangga in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.

Kasama-TK secretary general Axel Pinpin asked the new agrarian reform secretary to immediately issue cease and desist orders to big landlords and real estate developers to effectively halt all land use conversions and indefinitely suspend all these activities to prepare the stage for a comprehensive review of these lands currently embroiled in legal, political and moral disputes between the farmers and the big landlords in Southern Tagalog region.

“The Southern Tagalog region has become the laboratory for land reform reversals, land reform denials and land use conversions since the Calabarzon days of former President Ferdinand Marcos. Hundreds of thousands of prime agricultural lands have been subjected to automatic control of big landlords and were primed for land use conversions at the expense of land reform beneficiaries and other land tillers across the region,” Pinpin noted.

Citing a report filed by Ibon Foundation, KMP spokesperson Antonio Flores said as of December 2006, DAR has cancelled at least 108,141 CLOAs and Emancipation Patents (EPs) involving 204,579 hectares. CLOA and EP cancellations are increased by 3,790% from 1995 data of 2,780, while land area increased by 1,162% from 16, 213 hectares. Of the cancellations, majority or 87% were due to subdivision of mother-CLOAs into individual CLOAs. It involved about 82% of the lands to 167,486 hectares.

The KMP leader also cited a report filed by Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo Foundation (SENTRA), the lawyers group that handles agrarian cases including Hacienda Luisita. Flores said that of the 205 agrarian cases from Central Luzon,Southern Tagalog, Northern Luzon, Bicol and Panay regions, about half came from Southern Tagalog, mostly from Batangas reaching to 54 cases.

Flores lamented that farmers tend to lose the case at DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB), Regional Trial Court (RTC) and the Supreme Court (SC) even material evidences are sufficient but opposed to big landlords such as Zobel-Ayalas, Roxas, Yulos, Aranetas, Cojuangcos, Puyat family, big-time real-estate developers as Henry Sy, Sobrepenas, and traditional politicians as the Revillas, Remullas, Enriles, Mitras, Villafuerte. The farmers are also against foreign corporations such as Kuok Properties; including traditional and despotic landlords in the remote rural areas in the country such as the Dolors and Lopezes of Batangas, Don Domingo Reyes of Quezon, among many others.

“The DAR secretary should be daring enough to oppose big and influential landlords as the provisions of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with `Reforms’ (CARPer) are on their side. If he continues to serve their side, his stay at the department would be restless and he should expect more and more protests in front of his office,” Flores said. #

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Manila police clears Aquino on Mendiola dispersal

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Mudra Amparo and Sugar Hicap

MANILA, Philippines- Manila police chief district GeneralRodolfo Magtibay had insisted that he ordered the violent demolition of protest camp-out structures set by striking farm workers of Hacienda Luisita and peasant activists in Southern Tagalog and the mass arrest of 41 farmers as Magtibay assured the public Malacanang had nothing to do with what leftwing groups first violent disperal under the Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III administration.

“To General Magtibay, we have this short message for your day-to-day consumption— tell that to the marines”, said Antonio Flores, leader of of the activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), one of the organizers of the 100 days of peasant camp-out for land and justice. On Saturday, some 200 operatives of the Manila Police District (MPD) in cooperation with the city engineering office of the Manila City hall forcibly demolished the makeshift camp-out protest structure set by protesting farmers in Don Chino Roces bridge and arrested 38 farmer activists.

About a dozen of those arrested in Mendiola were women identified with the Kalipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK). Another set of 44 farmers and their supporters who followed their arrested colleagues to the MPD headquarters in UN Avenue to assist and provide immediate paralegal services were also dispersed, three of them were also arrested, while not less than 15 farmers were injured and brought to the nearest hospital for treatment.

“Gen. Magtibay is engaged in a major cover up and political foul play. The order to disperse the farmers came from the Office of the President or anyone who is a close associate of President Aquino,” added Flores. ” Let me remind this police officer that three days before the dispersal, a Palace staff who received the sets of demands from Hacienda Luisita farmers, from Kasama-TK and KMP told us that Malacanang would get angry with Gen. Magtibay if he will continue to allow us to hold the 100 day camp out in Mendiola Bridge,” the KMP official said.

The KMP official said Magtibay was compelled to follow the “chain of command” and that is to follow any order from Aquino how illegal and immoral such order is. “Since Magtibay’s police career is at stake, the police general has no choice but to swallow Aquino’s order, play the usual brutal and mercenary role in the name of the brutal, pro-landord and fascist presidency of Mr. Aquino,” the peasant leader added.

The KMP said the 100-days peasant camp-out was also organized by KasamaTK, the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL), the Luisita based United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Amihan peasant women federation and the left-leaning fisherfolk aliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya).

According to KMP, the 100-days peasant camp out was meant to present to Aquino lists of peasant demands that include the immediate prosecution of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on charges of corruption particularly referring to the P 728 million fertilizer fund scam, the urgent and unconditional free distribution of the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita and the investigation of agrarian disputes in Southern Tagalog particularly the 8,650 hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas and the 7,100 hectare Hacienda Yulo in Canlubang, Calamba City in Laguna.

“Mr. Aquino like his predecessor Mrs.Arroyo is an ultimate anti-peasant president. His display of extreme brutality as shown by the equally brutal dispersal of striking farmers reminds the public that he and his family will not give up Hacienda Luisita and other farm lands controlled by big landlords, corporate giants and warlords all over the country,” said Kasama-TK secretary general Axel Pinpin.

“We thought we are dealing with a new administration with full of hopes and promies, but just the same Aquino is just an Arroyo trapped in a man’s body. What he did to us is grossly unacceptable and higly condemnable,” the Kasama-TK added.

On Saturday, hours after the arrest, the 41 farmers arrested by MPD police were released upon the intercession of lawyers Atty. Jobert Pahilga and Atty. Jules Matibag of Sentra Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra) and the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) respectively. The released farmers were brought to Caritas Manila in Pandacan, Manila where they were allowed to stay until Sunday night. Pinpin of Kasama-TK said the farmers in Southern Tagalog and the Hacienda Luisita farm workers will remain in the National Capital Region (NCR) up to the first 100 days of the Aquino administration.

The Kasama-TK official said farmers Southern Tagalog had also prepared a petition to the Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Leila de Lima urging the newly installed justice secretary to withdraw all trumped up charges filed against regional peasant and multisectoral leaders in the region particularly those cases filed in Rizal, Batangas and Quezon by the Armed Forces of the Phillippines during the Arroyo administration.

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Philippine state security forces resume attacks vs. activists

By Gerry Albert Corpuz in Manila and Axel Pinpin in Calamba City

MANILA, Philippines- Barely 26 days before apparent Philippine President Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III assume the presidency from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, alleged members of a death squad operated by the Philippine military assassinated an active trade union officer South of Manila.

In a report filed by the left-leaning multisectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Tagalog chapter or New Patriotic Alliance in Southern Tagalog, the umbrella alliance of activist groups said on Wednesday night, around 6 PM, labor leader Edward Panganiban a union officer was brutally gunned down by unidentified men in Brgy. Caingin, Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

Bayan-ST said victim is a worker at Takata, a car-parts factory in the nearby town of Biñan, Laguna. The group said Panganiban’s union and the management of the factory are undergoing Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations.

The extrajudicial killing of Panganiban was followed by the violent demoliiton of 21 farmer’s houses by private security guards of the Manila South Coast Dev’t Corp. in Hacienda Looc, Nasugbu, Batangas which is about several hours after the killing of the trade union activist.

In a separate report, a copy of which was obtained by http://www.allvoices.com, peassant leader Guillermo Bautista, chairperson of the peasant group Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK or the Association of Farmers Organizations in Southern Tagalog) said perpetrators made it sure the demolition of houses will take place while farmers were away and out in the fields.

Bautista said prior to the demolition of farmer houses in the hotly disputed 10,000 hectare agricultural estate, previous threats against other farmers’ communities started in May 21, when policemen, security guards and representatives of landowners of the Hacienda Yulo in Calamba violently dispersed and illegally arrested protesting farmers.

“With this series of incidents, we cannot help but wonder if the recently concluded election has created a scenario where land owners, big businesses felt comfortable and free in attacking the rights of the marginalized farmers and workers. Have they found an ally in Sen. Noynoy Aquino?” the peasant leader asked.

The fresh wave of attacks against Filipino activists in Southern Tagalog region coincided with the issuance of a statement by United Nation Special Rapporteur Philip Alston who said extrajudicial killings in the Philippines because the incoming president is also heavily dependent on the AFP.

“The President-elect will likely be reminded that he is heavily dependent on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), not to cause problems and that any prosecution will alienate the military,” Alston said at a gathering of UN human rights officials in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Manila-based human rights watchdog Karapatan claimed that 1,118 extra-judicial killings and more than 200 enforced disappearances were documented in the Philippines between 2001 and October 2009.

According to Alston, “impunity is a serious issue that characterized extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances in the Philippines.”

Alston, was in the Philippines for a fact-finding mission in 2007 to investigate complaints of grave human rights violations and left and right killings of political activists. He had denounced the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration for failing to put an end to extra-judicial killings, which he said has decreased in recent years, but has continued due to lack of substantial measures to address the problem.

The UN special rapporteur said not a single member of the military, whom he earlier blamed for many killings and forced disappearances, has been punished over their involvement in political killings, enforced abductions and filing of trumped up charges against activists all over the Philippines.

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Satur, Maza to lead farmers’ March in Mendiola

By Bombshell Moran

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Backhoe Gloria symbolizes the crimes of the Arroyo regime

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ST activists all set for nationwide Lakbayan

Contributed by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan chapter in Southern Tagalog

Calamba City, Laguna- Militant groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Southern Tagalog (BAYAN-ST) and Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK) are all-hands preparing to conduct the nationwide protest march called “Pambansang Lakbayan ng Anakpawis para sa Lupa at Katarungan”.

The Lakbayan kicked-off today in Davao City and is expected to merge with the Southern Tagalog marchers on January 17 in Lucena City. The 10-day epic protest will culminate in January 22 in time with the 23rd commemorating year of the Mendiola Massacre and calling for the long-deprived justice of the farmer victims.

In 1987, farmer protesters were brutally murdered by Malacañang security at Mendiola bridge while decrying the rampant landlessness during Corazon Aquino’s regime. According to Imelda Lacandazo KASAMA-TK Spokesperson, 23 years later, farmers continue to experience these kinds of state atrocities.

“The basic problem of farmers on agrarian reform is still neglected by the government with as low as 19 to 21 percent being left from their produce because of high land rent. Under the Arroyo dictatorship, land-grabbing has even been legitimized with the enactment of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Bill with Extension and Reforms,” Lacandazo stressed.

Southern Tagalog marchers, considered as “Lakbayan veterans” greet the Arroyo government with a bash of strong protests early this new year. At least 1,500 delegates from Southern Tagalog will march the streets to reach the National Capital Region, enduring the heat of the sun, drench of the rain or even overcome blockades by police and military forces.

Less than a week before the Vizayas and Mindanao marchers will set foot to Southern Tagalog soil, build-up activities are already raring to go. On the list of activities include the filing of Human Rights Violations to the Commission on Human Rights due to the surging number of victims of areas where Civil Military Operations and Urban Militarization projects are posed.

“All sectors of Southern Tagalog are united with the peasants’ struggle as Arroyo’s grand plans such as the CALABARZON project and the R1 Coastal Road extension has not only tormented the farmers but also fisher folk, workers and urban poor communities,” Christine Macabetcha BAYAN-ST Deputy Secretary General said.

The R1 Coastal Road extension in Cavite is estimated to displace at least 100,000 families of the province depriving the residents from their homes and source of livelihood. Local protest centers and camp-outs will also be set-up in at least 10 key areas in the provinces of Southern Tagalog which will include a protest camp to be situated in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform on January 18.

“This regime shall expect more intensified protest until the end of its term and will serve as a warning and prelude to the people’s anger because of the upcoming dirty elections,” Macabetcha ended

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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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(UPDATE)Southern Tagalog farmers say new land reform law will bring catastrophes to land tillers

by Axel Pinpin, contributor

Manila, Philippines – The militant KASAMA-TK (Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan) expressed dismay over the extension of 20-year old Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and warned of massive re-concentration of land to the hands of big landlords and foreign companies in the country.

“In the midst of destruction and damaged brought by typhoon Ondoy to the agriculture sector in the region, we should gear for more catastrophic events that will be brought by CARP Extension with Reforms (CARPER),” Imelda Lacandazo, spokesperson of KASAMA-TK said during a picket-protest in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform in Quezon City where more than a hundred of farmers staged a die-in to dramatized their condition.

The Provincial Agriculture Office in Laguna reported that 7,300 hectares of rice field were submerged during the height of flood caused by the overflowing of Laguna Lake that leads to a 21% reduction of the total production of rice in the province.
Lacandazo noted that even before the typhoon, rice fields in Laguna were already flooded leaving the farmers in destitute after the cropping season.

According to the group, this situation is aggravated by high land rental and usury, low wages of farm workers and low-prices of agricultural produce.

Earlier, the group picketed in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources while their leaders are presenting the group’s demand in a dialogue with Sec. Lito Atienza. They are pressing the DENR to stop the construction of Laiban Dam in Tanay, Rizal saying that it will displace indigenous people in nine communities.

The group is also calling to immediately discontinue the R1 Coastal Road Extension Project in Bacoor, Cavite adding that 100,000 families will lost their houses and source of livelihood.

“Kailan pa matututo ang gubyerno sa mga mapangwasak nilang proyekto? Kitang-kita naman na kung hindi sa mga diumano’y proyektong pangkaunlaran ng gubyerno, hindi sana natin sasapitin ang mga ganitong kalamidad,” Pedro Gonzales, secretary general of Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya in Southern Tagalog (PAMALAKAYA-TK) stated in his speech during the rally.

Gonzales also blamed the Laguna Lake Development Authority for its negligence in controlling the structures built along the shore of the lake that caused flooding in the nearby communities.

The leaders of KASAMA-TK and their provincial chapters held a dialogue with the secretary of DAR to discuss several agrarian disputes in the Southern Tagalog region.

The agrarian cases, according to Lacandazo, have long been keeping the farmers landless in spite of the implementation of the bogus CARP. She mentioned the Hacienda Yulo in Laguna, Camella Homes owned by Manny Villar in Batangas and Ayala Properties in Cavite among others.

“The conditions of the farmers are miserable, with the CARPER now signed into RA 9700, it will be wretched,” the group added.

Meanwhile, about 1,000 calamity farmer victims in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog region on Tuesday night are gearing up for a rural camp-out at the national office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to press their 10-point immediate demand to Malacanang, the DAR and the Department of Agriculture, which they argued will address the rural crisis worsened by storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng.

In a joint press statement, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Anakpawis party list, the Alyansa ng Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) and the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) will present the set of demands on the eve of their long march from DAR to Malacanang on Oct.21 dubbed as Farmers’ March for Land, Justice and Rehabilitation”

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said the devastating impact of typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng is best addressed by the following measures:

1. 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 projects in Southern Tagalog, including the controversial Laiban dam project.

2. Support housing projects for farmers and rural people whose homes were 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 d 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.
7. Setting up of potable water supply.
8. 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. (With reports from Roy Morilla and Bb.Joyce Cabral

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Farmers on “wheels” dare Noynoy, Gibo to act on land disputes

by Lollipop delos Reyes and Chocolate Moose Fernandez

Manila, Philippines-Organizers of the Central Luzon bound 3-day peasant caravan- the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Anakpawis party list on Monday urged presidential candidates Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro to use the power and influence under their proposal to distribute the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, and the 3,100 hectare agricultural area inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Laur, Nueva Ecija respectively.

Yesterday, KMP and Anakpawis kicked off their three-day 4 vehicle caravan from Quezon City to Central Luzon to press for the immediate and free distribution of the Cojuangco sugar estate and the agricultural lands inside Fort Magsaysay military reservation area.

The caravan’s first stop yesterday was in peasant community in San Miguel, Bulacan, where an issue of land dispute over a 375 hectare agricultural land between some 200 farmers and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte. Today, the second day of Peasant Caravan for Land and Justice will proceed to Cabanatuan City to press DAR to cover 3,100 hectares of land inside Fort Magsaysay and have these distributed for free to some 5,000 peasant families inside the military reservation area for free.

After the short rally in Cabanatuan, the caravan protesters that include Migrante, fisherfolk group Pamalakaya, the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Amihan peasant women federation, Nnara-Youth, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and All UP Workers Union will proceed to Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac City.

“Our position on genuine land reform and free distribution of land is non-negotiable. Noynoy and Gibo should bear in their respective political minds and mindset that agrarian reform is a serious matter that should not be taken for granted. It is a make or break for the two presidential wannabes,” said KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos.

The Supreme Court which issued a temporary restraining order (TRO), which stalled the distribution of sprawling 6,453 hectare, has yet to lift the order. However, the HLI management issued a memorandum to all farm workers inside the Cojuangco estate that farm workers who cultivated already 2,000 hectares of sugar lands for other crops have until Oct.30 to stop cultivation of sugar lands for other crops.

“Sen. Aquino said his share in Hacienda Luisita sugar estate is one part of the 32 controlling shareholders. But that is not the point. The senator is a policy lawmaker and the rallying political figure of Cojuangco and Aquino clans. He is in the position to declare the free distribution of Hacienda Luisita to farmworkers, nothing more, nothing less,” Ramos added.

As for Secretary Teodoro, the KMP official said as highest defense official in the land, Mr. Teodoro is legally and politically empowered to immediately distribute the 3,100 hectare of Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation to landless farmers in Laur, Nueva Ecija. “Actually it is just a signature away from making free land distribution in Fort Magsaysay a social justice reality, but Secretary Teodoro is not doing his assignment,” KMP added.

Meanwhile, farmers, indigenous groups and fisherfolk in Southern Tagalog, especially those affected by the massive flooding in Laguna Lake will conduct their own rural caravan from Rizal and Laguna to call for the immediate dismantling of Napindan Hydraulic Structure (NCHS), and the will also demand the national government, the MWSS and San Miguel Corporation to recall the ambitious Laiban Dam project in Tanay, Rizal. The activity will be sponsored by Kasama-TK, Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog and Save Laguna Lake Movement.

Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog secretary general Pedro Gonzales said the caravan will proceed to the office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), where they will hold a vigil protest.

The following day, Oct.20, a picket at the extension office of Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) at the Rizal provincial capitol in Pasig City will be conducted to press lake authority general manager Edgar Manda to dismantle the 26 year old Napindan flood structure. #

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Rural groups launched “Palparan sa Kulungan, Hindi sa Kongreso” campaign

Rural groups launched “Palparan sa Kulungan, Hindi sa Kongreso” campaign

Leaders of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the peasant women federation Amihan and the Southern Tagalog-based Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) on Saturday announced the launching of “Palparan Sa Kulungan, Hindi sa Kongreso” campaign.

KMP vice chairperson and Kasama-TK spokesperson Imelda Lacandazo the public launching of the campaign will officially begin on Monday and will extend up to the electoral campaign in 2010 elections next year.

For a start, Lacandazo said on Monday, farmers and fisherfolk activists camping-out by the gates of the House of Representatives will burn 100 paper bonds bearing the demonized face of recently proclaimed Bantay party list representative former Army Major Gen. Jovito Palparan.

“The Palparan Sa Kulungan, Hindi sa Kongreso campaign is part of our protracted battle for justice. The campaign will constitute protest actions, signature campaign and lobbying inside the House of Representatives where we will convince other members of Congress to cross party lines and kick out this criminal and bogus party list representative from the Lower Chamber of Congress,” Lacandazo said.

“We will not allow this evil to continue his platform of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and state terrorism,” the KMP leader said.

Lacandazo said a signature campaign calling for the ouster of Palparan will be piloted in selected provinces of Southern Tagalog, which were tormented and terrorized by the former army general namely Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Quezon, Batangas, Mindoro Oriental and Mindoro Occidental where controversial military general launched the brutal campaign against political activists.

She said two of the most noted victims of Palparan were human rights activist Eden Marcellana of Karapatan-Southern Tagalog and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy of Kasama-TK. Both leaders were killed on April 2003 in Mindoro Oriental while leading a fact-finding mission on alleged atrocities committed by the military under the command of Palparan.

Citing a report from Karapatan, Lacandazo said 165 victims of the total 991 victims of extrajudicial killings came from the region.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said their move to expel Palparan from Congress has a fighting chance because last Feb., 40 congressmen crossed party lines and signed a resolution
opposing the appointment of Palparan to any government post.

Hicap was referring to House Resolution 999 in Congress that was filed at the time that the controversial retired military official will be assigned to either the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) or the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). The resolution states that “Palparan’s possible appointment is another knee-jerk reaction to government’s failure to effectively address the drug problem.”

“We have a fighting chance. We will write and talk to friendly congressmen to join our cause against Palparan and support another resolution calling for the expulsion of a political criminal and terrorist at large. It is long a way to go, but painstaking work and our justice driven campaign will convince other lawmakers to junk Palparan and send him behind bars instead,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

The resolution, according to groups was initiated by Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, was signed by 40 others from Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Partido ng Masang Pilipino, Nacionalista Party, Lakas-CMD Balane, Liberal Party, CIBAC, An Waray, Anak Mindanao, Kampi, Nationalist People’s Coalition, Partido Demokratiko-Sosyalista ng Pilipinas, and Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino.

The measure cited as basis Palparan’s alleged involvement in the proliferation of extrajudicial killings in areas where he was assigned during his stint in the military, particularly in Southern Tagalog, Eastern Visayas, and Central Luzon areas. #

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