After hearing the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, peasants belonging to the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and its Southern Tagalog chapter Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) said that they never heard the phrase “reporma sa lupa” or “land reform.” The groups said the Aquino said the word “lupa” just once but it was referring to a proposal to lease lands within military bases.
“This is really new or this is the ‘pagbabago’ Aquino is talking about, ridding off land reform as a legitimate issue and agenda, escaping from the centuries-old problem of landlessness and ‘iwas-pusoy’ on the issue of Hacienda Luisita and other haciendas controlled by rich and powerful landlords,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General in a press statement.
“We somehow expected something like this, especially when he zipped his lips on the land issue on his inaugural speech. Also, we all know that he belongs to the powerful landlord clan of the Cojuangco-Aquinos,” Ramos added.
KMP and Kasama-TK are the organizers of the 100-Day Peasant Camp-out for Land and Justice, which began July 1 to press the new administration to include the peasant agenda on his first 100 days of governance. The groups were able to send their demand letters to Aquino but until now they have yet to hear anything from the president.
“We sent our legitimate demands to the new president with the hope of him being open and transparent. Some of our calls included the pull-out of military from farm communities especially in Hacienda Yulo in Calamba, Laguna and Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac. We also demand that agri-products of farmers be allowed to be transported out from Hacienda Yulo. Those were simple legitimate demands, but the president who claims ‘Pagbabago’ has yet to send feelers that he would heed our grievances,” added Ramos.
“There is nothing shocking about Noynoy’s SONA speech, no mention of land reform, no concrete plans of prosecuting Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He sounded like being interviewed on a showbiz program, claiming of exposés without actual plans to do anything about it,” said Axel Pinpin, Kasama-TK Secretary-General.
The groups said that Aquino only said the word “agrikultura” once referring to programs similar to Arroyo, the word “bigas” just twice regarding excessive importation of the National Food Authority. He mentioned the three victims of extra-judicial killings but not Pascual “Tatay Pascual” Guevarra, the 78-year-old farmer who is struggling to keep his land inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Laur, Nueva Ecija. A part of his farm was converted by an extension of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) towards Aurora province. Aquino was involved on the SCTEX project when he led its construction piercing through Hacienda Luisita without consulting the agri-workers who are supposedly co-owners of the lands affected.
In addition, Aquino discussed majorly on irrational government spending but never mentioned the P728-million Fertiizer Scam, prosecuting former agriculture officials Joc-joc Bolante and Cito Lorenzo and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. None was also stated about P217.8-million Rice Scam raked up by fly-by-night foundations close to Arroyo and former NFA and Dept. of Agriculture official Arthur Yap.
“There is also no mention of prosecuting Arroyo of her implementation of Oplan Bantay Laya, which killed more than a thousand activists, where 561 were peasant victims, 129 peasants were victims of enforced disappearances and many where accused of fabricated charges, the recent is former SAGUPA-SB (KMP Eastern Visayas) leader Dario Tomada who is now at Camp Karingal,” said Ramos.
“We see him allergic of the Filipino peasants. The road his leading is crooked away from genuine land reform and justice. The more he ignores us, the closer we would get as we are to protest at Mendiola tomorrow morning pressing him to resolve land disputes all-over the country by distributing the lands farmers have dreamed of for decades,” Ramos called. #