The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK) said that newly-installed president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino is presently disregarding the peasant issues being drummed up by more than a hundred peasants from Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon. The peasant groups together with Tanggol Magsasaka also filed complaints at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) of abuses in connection with the violent dispersal of their camp-out in Mendiola last July 3, which resulted 11 wounded with 3 severe cases and arrest of 42 peasants and supporters.
“Aquino is has no positive reaction to what is presently brewing. All his government has done so far is to repress people’s protest, particularly peasants calling for genuine land reform,” said Antonio Flores, KMP Spokesperson and Tanggol Magsasaka co-convenor.
KMP has predicted that peasant unrest would heigthen once Aquino sits as president as he did not promise to resolve landlessness, affirmed by the absence of land reform on his inaugural speech last June 30.
“So far, Noynoy has even approved of arming Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGU) and para-military groups to fight insurgency during his campaign, attend the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) ceremony where Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Ricardo David promised to end insurgency in 3 years. He has also promised justice to media victims of extra-judicial killings but never to peasants and activists who were the most targeted victims of human rights abuses,” said Flores.
Tanggol Magsasaka reported that during the Arroyo government, 561 peasants were victims of extra-judicial killings and 119 were KMP leaders. Also, 129 peasants and organizers were victims of enforced disappearances including Nilo Arado and Jonas Burgos.
KMP and KASAMA-Tk said that Aquino has yet to do anything useful for the peasants. He showed no signs of giving up or work towards giving up Hacienda Luisita and replacing RA 9700 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with ‘Reforms’ (CARPer) with a genuine land reform program such as the House Bill 374 or Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB). Aquino is also thoughtless about giving justice to victims of Mendiola and Hacienda Luisita massacres and human rights abuses under the Arroyo regime.
The groups said that peasants are becoming more daring on their actions as they are presently harassed by landlords grabbing more lands who employ the AFP, PNP and private armed groups. A concrete example is Hacienda Yulo in Bgy. Canlubang, Calamba, Laguna where elements of PNP and AFP are harassing farmer-members of SAMANA-Buntog (a local peasant group) who oppose the illegal cutting of trees implemented by the Yulo’s as a precursor to land-use conversion.
KASAMA-TK said that farmers are not allowed to transport their produce by a checkpoint manned by Yulo’s hired guards.
“This is a blatant violation of farmers’ rights to life, security and livelihood. The Aquino goverment seems to be ignorant of these trends, worse, it has no interest in knowing it at all,” said Flores.
“Our regional and provincial chapters are now preparing for more aggressive campaigns for land and justice as Aquino shows no signs of change and reforms but similarities with the most-hated Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reign of terror,” added Flores.
“More groups are now gearing up their mass actions. While were on camp-out, we were joined by workers from Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), youth-students from the League of Filipino Students and Anakbayan, supporters from Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) and other religious groups, Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), lawyers from Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA), Nationa Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) and more. The protests are snowballing as Aquino does nothing though he lip-served on his inaugural speech,” said Flores.
“We call on all sectors to push people’s agenda as Aquino is ignoring our basic issues, this is the opportune time to drum up our issues. Aquino promised change but he is adopting Arroyo’s political and economic programs, killings continue, landgrabbing, displacements proliferate in the countryside, dispersals of street protests carry on, he is no different of Arroyo, he is anti-peasant and anti-people,” called Flores. #