Though media institutions, big businessmen and influential sectors forecast a festive day on incoming president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s inaugural on mid-day June 30, peasants from the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) said that there is no ounce of reason to celebrate, instead they would welcome Aquino’s first day as president with a series of protests primarily demanding genuine land reform and immediate actions against massive landgrabbing, displacements of farmers and land-use conversions (LUCs).
“Big businesses and privileged sectors who backed up Aquino’s campaign are on full-throttle in projecting his inaugural as ‘Tagumpay ng Bayan,’ as if poor Filipinos, majorly, peasants would concretely benefit from it,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General in a press statement.
On the contrary, the group said that its regional chapters are gearing up for protests and activities primarily calling for genuine land reform, stop to militarization and end to extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and filing of fabricated charges.
Finalizing plans of their activities were Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK), KMP Negros, KMP Southern Mindanao Region and other provincial chapters. KMP Central Visayas just held their regional conference on peasant and fisherfolk issues that they would lobby on local government units (LGUs).
“While Noynoy Aquino is celebrating and his yellow army jumping for joy, us Filipino peasants and our families are with grumbling stomach, our children unable to go to school, malnourished and without necessary medical care, our houses continue to deteriorate, we get more indebted, become victims of rights abuses and worse, our lands being grabbed by landlords and rich and powerful businesses, displacing us from our farms that our ancestors have developed for decades,” said Ramos.
The group said that Filipino peasants are the most marginalized sector in the country since colonial times and even when foreign occupation ended government were ruled by landlords, compradors and bureaucrat capitalists, thus, preserving their feudal control over vast lands in the country. Succeeding regimes only blueprinted sham land reform programs such as the latest which is the RA 9700 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with ‘Reforms.’
“Noynoy Aquino’s ascension to power would be a difficult period to farmers as he is now the top representative of the landlord and comprador class, coming from the Cojuangco-Aquino clan. We anticipate that our issues shall be ignored by institutions supportive of Aquino, those who would benefit from his presidency. Nevertheless, we have no reason to rest or pause to struggle as daily our rights to land are being violated,” Ramos said.
“We also learned from the rule of Noynoy’s mother, former president Cory Aquino who bannered democracy and change but unsheathed the sword of ‘Total War Policy’ that wreaked havoc to the people’s movement and grossly violated our basic rights. Cory Aquino’s government massacred the struggling peasants at Mendiola on January 22, 1988, invented CARP and Stock Distribution Option (SDO) which salvaged Hacienda Luisita and other haciendas from land distribution, ” he added.
“Thus, we could not answer ‘yes’ to those who say give Noynoy a chance or prove himself in governance, as he and his family have a gross record of oppressing farmers for decades. He defended the Hacienda Luisita massacre and blamed the striking agri-workers, Cory called against the ousting of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Noynoy voted against the playing of the ‘Hello Garci’ tape. These are some of our reasons why we could not be cheerful on his inaugural, we also criticize how could it be called ‘Tagumpay ng Bayan’ when he continues to ignore the fundamental issue of land reform where majority of the Filipinos are party of,” Ramos lamented.
The group is also preparing their omnibus demands to be submitted to Aquino on his first day as president. They said that they would not tire of sending Aquino their legitimate demands and would insist the he act on issues concretely and not vaguely or indefinitely.
“This is the right time to challenge Noynoy Aquino, there is no grace period, no honeymoon or whatsoever. We are just demanding what he promised and genuine land reform is the fundamental interest of every Filipino farmers in the country. We are tired of changing presidents recycling old promises of bogus land reform, we need concrete measures that would serve us and protect our rights to lands. If we really want change in our country, we should all work together for genuine land reform as this is the very prerequisite of any progress and development,” Ramos called. #