“We are seeing a ‘deja vu’ here, Aquino now boasting about his so-called ‘achievements’ though ordinary Filipinos has faced worsened economic dilemma. Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is being imitated by Aquino in citing ‘achievements’ that is very alien to the people, such as catching ‘big fishes’ in tax evasion,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General in a press statement.
“First of all, Aquino has no land reform program. He is bound to push for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with ‘Reforms’ or CARPer which we see would displace many farmers off their lands and give way to landlords who would use vast lands for agri-business in partnership with foreign agro-corporations, or develop them into an eco-tourism site, either way, displacing poor peasants,” Ramos said.
“He has yet to make an example with Hacienda Luisita. He is a landlord who keeps tight control of the lands developed by farmworkers. His governance is contrary to land reform, social justice and democracy. For that he is a total negative,” he added.
KMP said that Aquino has no clear plans of concretely serving the interest of the farmers and other poor sectors in the country. The group has continuously criticized Aquino for not mentioning any about land reform on his inaugural speech on June 30 and State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) on July 26. Aquino has only cited about the Public-Private Partnership program that farmers consider would launch massive dislocations. KMP is actively campaigning for the distribution of hacienda lands such as from Hacienda Yulo in Calamba, Laguna, Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas, Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac and more.
“He promised to stop rice importation but it still continues. When National Food Authority administrator Angelito Banayo revealed surplus stocks rotting, Aquino could not even give those still suitable for human consumption to farmers devastated by typhoons and extreme drought, he went for the rice to be sold. He has no mercy for those hungry,” Ramos said.
The group said that Aquino’s office has yet to respond positively on their legitimate demands submitted on his first day at Mendiola bridge during the camp-out. Instead of hearing the farmers, they were violently dispersed on July 3, resulting the arrest of 42 and wounding 11 peasant activists and supporters.
“We now have a president who is deaf or acting deaf to the grievances of the peasants. There is no change, peasants are still landless, worse, we are assaulted by abuses perpetrated by government forces,” Ramos said.
KMP said that at least 9 peasants were victimized by extra-judicial killings. The first case was of Pascual Guevarra, a 78-year-old peasant leader on July 9 inside the 3,100-hectare agricultural lands of Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) in Laur, Nueva Ecija. The latest was the killing of Rene Quirante of Kaugmaon (KMP Negros Oriental) on early morning of October 1 in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental. The group said that aside from Pascual and Quirante, 2 farmers were killed in Paquibato District, Davao City, a copra farmer in Compostela Valley, 4 farmers including a high school student were massacred in Mobo town, Masbate. KMP is still verifying the report of KASAMA – Rizal (KMP Rizal) that 2 farmers were killed at the boundary of Antipolo and Montalban.
“Aside from the EJK, 2 peasants are still missing in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur, they were abducted since September 1. Peasant communities have evacuated due to massive militarization in the area,” Ramos said.
“Dario Tomada, former leader of SAGUPA – SB (KMP Eastern Visayas) was also arrested on July 22, tortured and falsely accused of the alleged ‘mass graves’ in Inopacan, Leyte. In addition to being negative for land reform, Aquino scored 9 for EJK, 2 for enforced disappearances and 1 ‘arrest and detention’ against the peasants on his first 100 days as president,” Ramos said.
“Aside from his anti-peasant policies, he also allowed incessant oil price hikes, rate hikes in toll fees, light rail transit fares and utilities, budget cuts on social services, dislocation of urban poor and other anti-people measures. He is totally anti-poor,” Ramos said.
“Thus, we would start our vigil at Mendiola bridge as early as October 6 to last on October 8. We would protest on his non-accomplishment and continue to call for genuine land reform and justice for the victims of rights abuses. We call on sectors to support our legitimate calls,” Ramos called.
“Therefore, we would not forgive him for this oppression and exploitation of poor Filipinos. We would protest even if it takes forever until fundamental reforms are realized in our country,” Ramos said. #