Tag Archives: KMP

SORA pits vs. Aquino’s SONA

By Bianca Jing Bajing Jing and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines-Farmer groups led by the peasant activist group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Amihan peasant women federation, the Kalipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and the Alyansa ng Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) delivered their own State of the Nation Address (SONA) dubbed as State of the Rural Address (SORA) on the eve of the 1st SONA of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino.

About 2,000 farmers, peasant women, fisherfolk, agricultural workers and indigenous people listened to SORA led by KMP national spokesperson Antonio Flores.

In his 10-minute SORA speech, Flores told Aquino that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP)and its five-year extended version the CARP with reforms remained a comprehensive failure and perpetual agrarian disaster to millions of landless farmers all over the country.

“If Noynoy wants to perform in accordance with national interest he would announce the immediate and free distribution of hacienda lands like the 6,435-hectare Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, the 7,100 Hacienda Yulo in Barangay Canlubang, Calamba City and the 8,650 hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas to mention a few. If he do this, then we will have progressive future for seven out of 10 Filipino farmers who don’t have lands,” the KMP spokesman said in his SORA.

The SORA delivered by Flores also asked Aquino to immediately prosecute former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for high crimes and corruption, scrap the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya, dismantle death squads which are still maintained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and pull out deployed government troops in areas of agrarian disputes.

Flores likewise informed President Aquino on the demand of relatives of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances to prosecute Arroyo’s military and security officials involved in political killings and abductions. Some of those he mentioned during the SORA were former defense secretary Norberto Gonzalez and former Army general Jovito Palparan.

“SORA is the real state of the rural people as far as our groups are concerned and our SORA is authentic, based on day-to-day experience and struggle for daily survival,” the KMP leader said.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap rejected the plea of President Aquino to hold their rally inside the Quezon City Memorial Circle in Eliptical Road, instead of pushing their way near the Batasan in time for Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“Excuse us, but we are going to the main capital not to stage a street party and hail the Aquino administration to high heaven. We are going to Manila to present the real state of the people which is free from any shade of illusion,” Hicap said.

“Mr. Aquino is barely a month on office, but this 50-year old bachelor politician is leading us to another authoritarian or police state by confining us to a 10-hectare park where no one could see or hear us but a handful of park goers,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Hicap said Aquino should allow protesters to get near the Batasan complex and express the people’s agenda and true state of the nation address rather than bar them from getting near Congress and put them inside the Quezon City park like prisoners seeking fresh air and the warm of the sun.

“Our farmers, fisherfolk and the other rural people will come from as far as Quezon province. They don’t deserve this kind of treatment from Mr.Aquino, they are coming to push free land distribution and justice and tell the Aquino clique that these things are non-negotiable. Definitely they are here on SONA day to make a difference and not to join any Palace led street party,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Kasama-TK secretary general Axel Pinpin said the official response of President Aquino so far was the violent demolition of peasant camp-out in Mendiola Bridge and the dispersal of striking farmers on July 3 that led to the mass arrest of 42 farmer activists and the injury of 13 other Southern Tagalog activists.

“ So far this is the concrete step taken by Aquino as far as the agrarian issues surrounding Hacienda Yulo is concerned and for the farmers the act is simply incorrigible and extremely reprehensible,” the Kasama-TK official said.

At least seven cases of agrarian disputes mostly from Southern Tagalog region were presented on July 16 to newly installed Agrarian reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes.

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.

“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,” said Kasama-TK

Citing a report filed by Ibon Foundation, KMP 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.#

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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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11 groups call for rejection of Noynoy in 2010 polls

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Lollipop de los Reyes and Sugar Hicap

MANILA, Philippines-About 11 rural based organizations and agrarian reform advocacy groups urged the 50 million Filipino voters in the May 10, 2010 elections to reject the presidential bid of Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III, asserting that electing the son of former President Corazon Aquino’s son to the presidency is like extending the term of outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In their statement, the peasant activist group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the agricultural worker group Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the peasant women federation Amihan, the Hacienda Luisita based United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), the Central Luzon wide Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon(AMGL), the legal NGO group Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra), the Tanggol Magsasaka human rights committee, the National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates- Youth Sector (Nnara-Youth) and Anakpawis party list said it is politically necessary to frustrate the presidential ambition of Aquino.

“The rejection of Noynoy Aquino at the electoral box-office this May 10, 2010 is in the highest interest of the rural people— the farmers, farmworkers, peasant women, agricultural workers, indigenous people and fisherfolk. The collective view of landless farmers and marginalized rural folks is that bringing Aquino to the highest elective post in the land is like extending the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for another six years of injustice, betrayal, corruption, extreme puppetry to the United States and ultimate state terror,” the 11 groups said in their rural manifesto for real change.

“Please allow us to cite our basis why Noynoy is Macapagal-Arroyo in the making, why Noynoy is President Arroyo trapped in a man’s body and why an Aquino presidency appears like giving Arroyo another six year rule of extrajudicial killings, grave human rights violations, high crimes of corruption, puppetry and grand betrayal of national interest and public trust,” the 11 groups added.

In their rural manifesto, the groups said Noynoy and the entire Cojuangco-Aquino landed aristocracy will not yield their unlawful and immoral claim on Hacienda Luisita. At present, the Cojuangco-Aquino established Luisita Estate Management is engaged in round-the-clock campaign to stop free distribution of the 6,453-hectare sugar plantation to 10,000 farmworker beneficiaries.

“It is predictable- an Aquino presidency will just continue Arroyo and other previous presidents’ policy of land reform denials and reversals. The presence of anti-agrarian reform politicians in the Aquino camp is highly evident why agrarian reform will continue to serve the best interest of landed class like the Cojuangco-Aquino and the Roxas-Araneta families under an Aquino presidency,” they said.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said: “To set the record straight, LP senatorial candidate and former senator Franklin Drilon was the justice secretary of the late President Corazon Aquino. He instigated the infamous Department of Justice (DoJ) Opinion No.44 which allows anarchic and chaotic land use conversions all over the country. The anti-peasant measure was used by the Cojuangco-Aquino and the Araneta-Roxas family to evade land distribution and pushed the sale and conversions of their landholdings for the benefit of their foreign and private clients”.

The KMP leader recalled during Cory’s time, one of Noynoy’s current political lieutenants—former DAR secretary Butch Abad was instrumental in keeping Hacienda Luisita in the hands of Cojuangco-Aquino through the shameless Drilon opinion. The presence of Drilon and Abad in the Noynoy camp is a stern warning that no real agrarian justice will be undertaken by Aquino if he becomes President in 2010.

For his part, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said Noynoy was scored by a US-based human rights watchdog, hinting Aquino will not solve the problem of political killings and worsening human rights situation in the country. One indicator, Hicap said, is Noynoy’s desire to maintain private armies and paramilitary forces backed and supported by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The country’s human rights organizations said paramilitary troops were in cahoots with the military and were also responsible for the spate of politically motivated murder over the last nine years under Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and Oplan Bantay Laya II.

“Noynoy is one of the biggest opportunist politicians ever produced in the history of reactionary politics and reactionary elections in the country. In exchange for his family’s lifetime control of Hacienda Luisita including graft-ridden projects like the SCTEX, Noynoy and his feudal clan supported the presidential bid of President Arroyo in 2004 and Noynoy as congressman of Tarlac refused the playing of Hello Garci tape in connection with the massive election fraud perpetrated by the Arroyo mafia in 2004 presidential elections,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Pamalakaya said the massacre of 7 farmers and wounding of 134 striking farmworkers and their supporters in Hacienda Luisita on November 16, 2004 was part of the anti-farmer and anti-Left collaboration of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration and the fiefdom of the Cojuangco-Aquino. The Arroyo administration ordered DOLE to intervene through the anti-worker assumption of jurisdiction (AJ) during the strike and mobilized military and police forces to disperse and indiscriminately shoot Luisita farmworkers in the name of their political alliance with Cojuangco-Aquino.

KMP and Pamalakaya also warned the economy will continue to suffer under an Aquino presidency. The economic managers of President Arroyo who were responsible for anti-people economic policies like the 12 percent Expanded Value Added Tax (EVAT) and Oil Deregulation Law to mention a few now composed the economic advisers of the Noynoy camp.

“For instance, LP vice-presidential candidate Mar Roxas and senatorial candidate Ralph Recto are orchestrators of the anti-poor EVAT and both are obsessed with the economic poisons prescribed by the IMF-World Bank and operators of World Trade Organization (WTO) or one-sided and anti-Filipino agreements like the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa),” the groups said.

The 11 groups said the appeal to the 50-million voters to rise above the occasion. Let us all frustrate the presidential ambition of Noynoy Aquino. “What we aspire and struggle for is genuine land reform and social justice. And we cannot have it under an extended Arroyo presidency in the political persona of Noynoy Aquino,” the 11 groups added.

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Manila’s agrarian reform chief asked to act on land disputes involving top 2010 bets

By Sugar Hicap, Bb. Joyce Cabral, Cherry de Belen and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines-Striking farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita and affected farmers of the ambitious MRT-7 railway project in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan had coalesced to pressure Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Nasser Pangandaman to stop the families of Liberal Party presidential and vice-presidential candidates Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Senator Manuel Roxas from denying their rights to land and compel them to surrender their unlawful and immoral control over the disputed lands.

In a joint press statement, the Hacienda Luisita based United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) and farmers groups affiliated with the activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) urged secretary Pangandaman to act on their demands against the “Team Hacienderos” of Aquino and Roxas not later than the May 10, 2010 elections.

ULWU acting president Lito Bais said the farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita are strongly suggesting to DAR to immediately cite the Cojuangco-Aquino family and the Luisita Estate Management (LEM) in contempt of court for violating the status quo order involving the 6,453 hectare sugar estate.

Bais, also the spokesperson of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said the Cojuangco-Aquino clan through LEM has been allowing different interest groups like the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) to put fences on 200 hectares of sugar lands, allegedly representing debts of the Cojuangco-Aquino family to the banking group.

“Noynoy recently announced that Hacienda Luisita will be distributed to farm workers in the next five years. But based on what his family is doing right now, the Cojuangco-Aquino clan is doing everything to keep control of the hacienda and later sell it to entities that would give them billions of pesos in profits,” the Hacienda Luisita leader added.

Status quo

The status quo order stemmed from the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court in 2005 after the management of Hacienda Luisita Inc. questioned the revocation of the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) and the decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) to take over Luisita and have distributed to some 10,000 farmer worker beneficiaries.

The TRO which was applied by HLI management, however, effectively stopped the Cojuangco-Aquino family from pursuing other activities and corporate decisions pertaining to the sugar estate. Reports from ULWU revealed otherwise.

The farmworkers’ group said the Cojuangco-Aquino family has tolerated the terroristic activities of the military and the Army led Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVOs) under the Northern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Nolcom) whom they said are engaged in covert and overt operations like day-to-day surveillance and harassment of leaders and active members of sugar worker groups inside Hacienda Luisita.

Troops loyal to Arroyo

“Troops loyal to President Arroyo are in Hacienda Luisita to protect the illegitimate claim of Noynoy and his family, and that alone confirms the ongoing unholy alliance between the Arroyos and the Cojuangco-Aquino feudal aristocracy,” Bais added.

Joining the Luisita workers in the camp out at DAR are 120 farmers from Bgy. Tungkong Mangga, San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan are the KMP affiliates— the Tungkong Mangga Upland Farmers Association, Inc. (TMUFAI), San Isidro Sandigang Samahan ng Magsasaka (SASAMAG) and Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Sitio Dalandanan (SAMAGDA).

“We are urging Mar Roxas to convince his relatives to stop landgrabbing and harassment of farmers in Tungkong Mangga. He wants to be vice-president, he should start put aside the interests of his relatives and put the interests of poor farmers in front,” said Wilfredo Marbella, KMP Deputy Secretary-General.

Tungkong Mangga

“The lands in Tungkong Mangga are being claimed by Araneta Properties, Inc. (now led by Gregorio `Greggy’ Araneta, from the Salvador and Gregorio Araneta lineage), though farmers cultivated the lands for decades. Now, Mr. Palengke Mar Roxas, please help farmers against the harassment imposed by your relatives. The farms at Tungkong Mangga are the source of fruits, vegetables at nearby `palengkes,'” he said.

Tungkong Mangga, particularly Sitio San Isidro, Dalandanan and Ricafort is the site of the 200-hectare intermodal station of the MRT 7. Its main proponent is the Universal LRT Corp. led by Hongkong-based EL Holdings, also composing is the SM Development Corp. of mall-tycoon Henry Sy.

“The lands at Tungkong Mangga are not owned by the Aranetas as they have been foreclosed by Manila Banking Corp. during the Marcos’ dictatorship, who then, used it as collateral to acquire loans from the Central Bank. During the Aquino government, MBC was sequestered as it was owned by Marcos cronies and used ill-gotten wealth on its business. Generally, the lands were paid for the Aranetas by public funds, thus, should be subjected by land reform,” said Marbella.

In 1998, DAR has been preparing for the issuance of Cert. of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) to the farmers when the Aranetas have filed petition for exemption. Until now, it has not been processed and currently on the discretion of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC). The Gregorio Araneta Inc. and Araneta Properties, Inc. are now represented by Gregorio “Greggy” Araneta III as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the son-in-law of the late dictator Ferdinand MarcosFerdinand Marcos being married to Irene Marcos. They are also relatives of vice-presidential candidate Mar Roxas of the J. Amado Araneta lineage. Moreover, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo is of the clan of Jesus Araneta Lacson de Arroyo of Negros.

“The Araneta Properties, Inc. is chaired by Benito Araneta, a former representative of the PCGG to PhilComSat but was fired by former pres. Estrada due to malversation of funds. He was investigated for plunder in the Senate and sen. Enrile presented proofs of his plunder in the gov’t corporation,” said Marbella.

“Mar Roxas’ relatives are cashing in the lands as SM Dev’t Corp and Universal LRT Corp. are planning another Araneta Center in Tungkong Mangga, composed of a train station, commercial and residential establishments and bus terminal. This is the first stop of our series of protest,” Marbella said. #

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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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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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Inquirer asked to take up Luisita, land reform in 2nd edition of presidential debate

By Billy Javier Reyes and Kremlin Montenegro

Manila, Philippines-Six of the biggest rural based groups in the country– the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Amihan peasant women federation, the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Anakpawis party list on Tuesday proposed to editors and organizers of the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s presidential debate to take up the issue of Hacienda Luisita and the state of land reform in the second staging of the presidential forum.

In a press statement Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap appealed to Inquirer publisher Isagani Yambot and editor-in-chief Leticia Jimenez-Magsanoc to have land reform issues discussed in the 2nd edition of the Inquirer presidential debate.

“We submit this humble appeal to the collective leadership and political wisdom of those behind the Inquirer presidential debate. Majority of the presidential wannabes are landlords and feudal chiefs of vast landholdings all over the country, so there’s already conflict of interest as far as land reform is concerned. We hope this proposal would merit the approval of the organizers,” said Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader noted that the first edition of the presidential debate held yesterday at UP Diliman and attended by 2,500 people was a success, although there are more important questions that should have been asked to determine if public interest is really in heart and political mind of every candidate, rather than use the occasion as opportunity for political mudslinging against and between presidential wannabes.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap suggested a working title for the Inquirer regarding their proposal. “How about “how do you solve a problem like Hacienda Luisita as title of the next presidential debate?”

The Pamalakaya leader recalled that on June 8, 1989, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, then Senate Minority Leader of the Corazon Aquino controlled Senate delivered a privilege speech questioning the late President Aquino’s insertion of Stock Distribution Option (SDO) in her outline for the land reform law.

Sen. Enrile said former President Corazon Aquino signed Executive Order No. 229 enabling the Aquino presidency to preside over the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), the body that placed and approved to place the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita under the SDO scheme.

“Senate President Enrile could be invited as resource speaker for the presidential debate on Hacienda Luisita,” Hicap suggested.

Pamalakaya said the debate should also include discussion on the plans of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)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.

“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,” the group said.

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 group said.

Pamalakaya 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,” the group said.

Pamalakaya 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. #

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Sugar groups told: Recall EO on importation

By Jay Cuesta, Roy Morilla and Sugar Hicap

Lawyers Atty.Jobert Pahilga and Jules Matibag of National Union of Peoples' Lawyers discussing the bitter pills the Cojuangco-Aquino clan has in mind for striking farmworkers

Manila, Philippines- Asserting that there is no legitimate basis to import sugar from foreign sources abroad, five of the biggest rural based groups—the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Amihan peasant women federation, the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Negros and the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday urged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to recall Executive Order No. 857 authorizing the National Food Authority (NFA) to import sugar together with the private sector.

In a joint press statement, the groups pressed Malacanang to stop NFA from importing 150,000 metric tons of sugar tax free, saying that such move will pave way for the massive dumping of foreign sugar products at the expense of local sugar producers all over the country. They said, the situation does not merit the importation of sugar from sources abroad.

“There is no dramatic indicator for the retail price of sugar to increase as mill gate prices are relatively lower at P1,700 to P1,900 per 50-kg, very far from government lies that it is P2,000 upward,” said KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos.

Citing the report of Sugar Alliance of the Philippines, composed of sugar millers and big planters, Ramos said raw production rose by 14.7%, refined production by 41.74%, even the milling rate of sugarcane to sugar increased by 4.19%, in short, where is the shortage the government is drumming about?” said Ramos.

Price manipulation

Likewise, leaders of UMA and NFSW accused officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) of engaging in price manipulation of sugar prices in the domestic market to justify sugar price hikes, enrich the pockets of big sugar traders, make commissions and justify the importation of sugar from foreign sources abroad.

They said agriculture and sugar officials for misleading the public on the actual price of sugar in the domestic market which they said had allowed big traders and sugar cartels to jack up prices of their products and promoted panic buying among consumers to further justify the skyrocketing prices of sugar.

UMA acting chair Butch Lazonde said the SRA and the Agriculture secretary Arthur Yap had some explaining to do as to why sugar price is going up to an unprecedented levels of P 52 per kilo despite of the government assurance of sufficient supply of sugar for the crop year 2009 and 2010 respectively.

“The general public has the right to know the real score behind the sudden hike in the prices of sugar since the situation does not merit for any sharp increase. Last December sugar price tops only for P42.00 per kilo but this January alone it had reached to P52.00 fearing the price will vault as high as P60.00. Such drastic hike on its price is very unlikely considering that we have enough supply for local consumption,” the UMA official asserted.

“This is a clear case of price manipulation. It shows unscrupulous big sugar traders and millers are behind this sudden sugar price hike. They are the ones who are benefitting from it. This is sheer profiteering. SRA and DA officials connived with big millers and traders to push this major disarray in the local market to benefit a few paved way for this sugar fiasco. Lazonde added

NFSW asserted the upsurge on the price if sugar as “fake” and had no really basis for the increase.

Ronald Dagu-ob NFSW national council member explained that “The province of Negros supplies 60% of sugar requirements and if we combine the supplies from other sugar producing provinces like Leyte, Pampanga, Tarlac and Mindanao this crop year, we think we’re going to have more than enough supplies to last all year round. So why the Department of Agriculture is eager to push for the importation of 150,000 MT of sugar?”

Lazonde said that “Both agencies are treating the situation just like another day in the office. Acting in a casual business like attitude without considering its effect to the general public”.

“As far as we are concern, sugar price should be not higher than the suggested retail price of P43.00 as the Department of Trade and Industry conveyed. If we follow the price of sugar last quarter of 2009 there have been increase of demands because of the holiday season for just only P2 to P3 top. But this January the price of sugar spiked four times, an increase of P14 to P20. This preposterous price frog leap, SRA and the Department of Agriculture can’t concretely explain to the worried stricken public”. Lazonde added.

“What the SRA, DA and the government do is to support our local sugar industry by subsidizing small sugar planters and at the same time help farm workers to increase their wages and benefits. Importation of sugar will only weakened our local sugar industry. To ensure a sufficient supply, we are urging the agencies concern to impose a moratorium not only on sugar but also with all agricultural products that is considered as basic commodities”. Lazonde said.

Special session

Meanwhile, the Pamalakaya asked Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Prospero Nograles to call special session on the issue of sugar following reports that the government will resort to sugar imports to the detriment of the local sugar industry and the sugar consuming public.

“Let this massacre of sugar industry by anarchic importation of sugar be discussed in a special session by Congress. We understand it is already the start of the campaign season, but this should not prevent lawmakers from taking this highly explosive commodity and issue and address the concerns of sectors affected by the looming sugar catastrophe characterized by massive importation and all-out price manipulation of sugar,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap. #

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Farmers accused pawnshop magnate of intrusion

By Glemmar Bacusmo, KMP media officer in Cebu

Cebu City, Philippines– A cooperative of agrarian reform beneficiaries in Carmen, Cebu today lambasted businessman Michel Lhullier after the road project of the latter encroached their farms destroying crops and plowed plots.

Without their consent, Lhullier’s men stealthily uprooted more than 200 corn stalks and scores of other crops and cut down a 30-year old coconut tree last Thursday, according to Cantipay Farmers’ Association (CAFA) chairperson Erlinda Into.

Into added that the newly constructed road, 5 meters wide, ate up the sizeable chunk of their 2 hectares communal and individual farms, which is part of the 20 hectares landholding placed under government’s agrarian reform program.

“Indeed, not all that glitters is gold. Amidst the façade of charity and community service is the cruel reality of business that put profit first over people and the environment,” Into said

When confronted by the members of CAFA, security personnel and employees of Lhullier’s poultry and flower farm nearby alleged that their boss already bought the land. The farmers bluntly dismissed their claim as ridiculous saying the land could not be sold being part of an agrarian reform area.

To prevent further construction activities, the farmers barricaded the land and replanted it with banana and other crops.

“We have this message to Mr. Lhullier: if you think you can have your way, then you are gravely mistaken. We will militantly defend the land we inherited from our forefathers,” Into ended. ###

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