The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) equated outgoing Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s 9-year rule as a rule of killings, scam, hunger and landlessness. The group also said that Arroyo has a selective memory of her nine-year rule, omitting her moves that destroyed democracy, particularly those that worsened corruption, liberalization of agriculture, intensified extra-judicial killings and rights abuses, and worsened landlessness for Filipino farmers.
“Arroyo is really inhuman, as she still could smile during her speech though more than a thousand were victimized by extra-judicial killings through counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya, no sign of remorse and mercy,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General in a statement.
“Her rule is totally anti-people, anti-peasant, plagued with corruption and irregularities as proven by her rating of negative 53% last April. Under her rule, peasant unrest heightened as her programs and policies destroyed peasants livelihood, caused poverty, hunger and death,” Ramos said.
Being the beneficiary of People Power II that ousted former president Joseph Estrada in 2001, KMP was able to submit their peasant agenda which encoined the implementation of a genuine land reform program in the country. But after a year in governance, there was no sign of fundamental reforms, she simply continued to implement the bogus RA 8532 the extension of RA 6657 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) that supposed to end in 1998, thus, resulting further unrest in the countryside as landgrabbing, displacement of farmers and land-use conversions continue systematically. As it became clear that Arroyo would not serve the interests of farmers, the group called for her ouster after a year.
Human rights abuses
“The first wave of her anti-people measures that we faced was Oplan Bantay Laya 1, when the ‘butcher’ Gen. Jovito Palparan was on the onslaught of killing our leaders from different regions. Our national council member Eddie Gumanoy of KASAMA-TK (KMP Southern Tagalog) was killed on April 22, 2003 in Mindoro,” Ramos said.
The group said that out of 1,190 victims of extra-judicial killings, 561 were peasants, that included 119 KMP leaders. Aside from Gumanoy were Renato Pacaide of KMP – Far Southern Mindanao Region, Atrhur Orpilla and Dionisio Battad of DANGGAYAN – CV (KMP Cagayan Valley), Marcelino Beltran of AMT (KMP Tarlac), Fermin Lorico of KAUGMAON (KMP Negros Oriental), Celso Pojas of FADC (KMP Davao City) and many more.
In addition, 129 peasants and organizers were victims of enforced disappearances including Jonas Burgos of AMB (KMP Bulacan) and Nilo Arado of PAMANGGAS – Panay (KMP Panay). Scores of peasant leaders and activists are also in prison accused of fabricated charges such as agri-worker organizer Felicidad Caparal, Antipolo 4, Quirante 2, Buenavista 5, Cadiz 4 and more. Also accused of trumped-up charges were Tagaytay 5, including Axel Pinpin of KASAMA-TK and Randall Echanis, KMP National Deputy Secretary-General for External Affairs but were freed on 2008 and 2009, respectively.
Arroyo’s government is a rule of scams, corruption and coercion. In 2005, the P728-million Fertilizer Scam was exposed by KMP, in which funds supposedly for farm inputs were used as campaign funds for the 2004 presidential elections. No farmers benefitted and those who testified at the Senate inquiries and interviewed by media were either abducted or killed such as Nilo Arado and Ofelia Rodriguez of AMC (KMP Pampanga).
This was followed by the P218.7-million Rice Scam, where the Dept. of Agriculture released funds supposedly for rice seeds to questionable foundations suspected of being dummies of Arroyo and her allies. More scams were exposed such as the Swine Scam, Veggie Scam, Coconut Seedling Scam and to add the overpriced Diosdado Macapagal boulevard, the NBN-ZTE deal and more.
Anti-peasant programs and policies
The worst Arroyo did for the Filipino farmers was the non-implementation of a genuine land reform program and the continued implementation of CARP and extension as RA 9700 CARP Extension with ‘Reforms’ or CARPer.
As part of CARP implementation, Stock Distribution Option (SDO) in Hacienda Luisita caused poverty and hunger to agri-workers and farmers which compelled them to launch the strike on November 6, 2004. Consequently, the striking agri-workers were massacred on November 16, now dubbed as the “Hacienda Luisita Massacre” which killed 7. This was followed by a string of extra-judicial killings victimizing 7 peasant leaders and supporters.
Massive landgrabbing and land-use conversions are also pushing through as landlords, developers and foreign companies utilize CARP provisions and other anti-peasant land-related laws.
Aside from the systematice LUCs in Hacienda Luisita, Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas is being converted into golf courses and eco-tourism establishments, Hacienda Yulo in Canlubang, Calamba, Laguna into industrial and residential enclaves, Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) in Laur, Nueva Ecija as site of Metro-Luzon Urban Beltway, Bgy. Tungkong Mangga in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan as site of MRT-7 intermodal station, Bgy. Sibul, San Miguel, Bulacan to eco-toursim project by Rep. Luis Villafuerte, Bgy. San Rafael, Montalban, Rizal into Pamintinan Heritage Park Project and more.
Arroyo’s ‘super-region’ program has displaced farmers as landgrabbers, developers, speculators and foreign investors have become interested in occupying lands along highways.
In addition, Arroyo has worsened liberalization of agriculture which caused the rice crisis in 2008. As the Arroyo government facilitated the flooding of imported rice in the counry, livelihood of local rice farmers have been destroyed and they were put into more debt and poverty. On September 2008, the P18.25 per kg National Food Authority (NFA) rice inevitably hiked price to P25 per kg after the Dept. of Agriculture’s implementation of access card system.
Killings, scams, hunger and landlessness
“There are more cases of unimaginable poverty and hardships that Filipino farmers have experienced under the Arroyo government. We equate her rule to killings, scams, hunger and landlessness as they were generally what we went through. Thus, we could not forget those who became victims and we would demand that Arroyo be prosecuted for the destruction of lives she brought about,” Ramos called. #