Neglected farmers burn pictures of Aquino on the 10-day countdown to his 100th day as president 09/28/2010
“We tried to reach him, send him our demands, plead for fundamental reforms, but we were violently dispersed at Mendiola, and he mentioned nothing about land reform on his speeches, totally ignored us farmers and continued killing and arresting us,” said Axel Pinpin, Secretary-General of Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA – TK) of their experience nearing the first 100 days of president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
KASAMA – TK and the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas) declared in a press conference at their camp-out in front of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform that farmers would flood Mendiola on the 100th day of Aquino as president.
“Our bases are clear, Aquino has no plans of effecting change or serving the interest of the Filipino peasants. Poor Filipinos are not his bosses, but the rich and powerful landlords, compradors and US imperialism, from this day onwards, we would be burning pictures of Aquino as symbol of our protest against his anti-peasant and anti-people policies,” said Antonio Flores, KMP Spokesperson and Co-convenor of the human rights group Tanggol Magsasaka (Peasant Network for Land, Justice and Human Rights).
The groups have been on camp-out since Aquino’s inaugural on June 30 to call for the distribution of hacienda lands, particularly Hacienda Yulo and Hacienda Looc in Southern Tagalog and Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province. KASAMA – TK said that peasants have been continuously subjected to landgrabbing and displacements and their farms to massive land use conversions (LUCs).
“We are very disappointed of Aquino’s attitude towards farmers. After violently dispersing us on July 3, instead of promising land reform, he planned for Public-Private Partnership on his State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) last July 26 that definitely would lead to more displacement of farmers. In Southern Tagalog, big landlords continue to keep control over vast hacienda lands and they plan on kicking out our members to pave way for LUCs, such as into residential or industrial estates, or even eco-tourism projects,” said Pinpin of KASAMA – TK.
KASAMA – TK, aside from Hacienda Yulo and Hacienda Looc, is calling for the distribution of Hacienda Roxas and Hacienda Puyat in Nasugbu, Batangas, Hacienda Agoncillo in Laurel town, Hacienda Zobel and lands in Bgy. Hukay both in Calatagan, in province of Batangas. The group said that the haciendas range from hundreds of hectares to as large as 12,000-hectares affecting tens to hundreds of thousands of farmers.
The peasant groups vowed daily protest actions starting October 1 to October 8. Their 10-day countdown was kicked off with a protest program in front of DAR and the symbolic burning of Aquino’s pictures. It would also be composed of protest actions at Times Street, Mendiola bridge in Manila and agencies involved in peasant issues.
In addition, KMP’s Flores added that Aquino not just ignored the peasants’ grievances but consciously implemented policies detrimental to their interest. He primarily cited that Aquino continued the implementation of Republic Act 9700 the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with ‘Reforms’ or CARPer.
“CARPer is worse than CARP, that has displaced countless peasants off their farms and preserve the control of landlords over vast lands. Aquino based his seemingly empty promise that he would distribute Hacienda Luisita in 5 years on CARPer,” Flores said.
“Aquino has also abdicated his duties as president when he took a ‘hands-off’ policy on the issue of Hacienda Luisita. He should have push for the revocation of the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) as this was the official decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) that heads. It is either his intention is to serve his family to keep control over Luisita or he played dumb about it,” he added.
KMP has recently consulted with its 15 regional chapters that unanimously acknowledged that Aquino has not brought fundamental reform in the country. Altogether, they have confronted anti-peasant measures such as landgrabbing, displacement, militarization, mining, cancellations of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs), criminalization of agrarian cases and more. The regional organizations affirmed that Aquino is hopeless for the peasants and his policies and programs should be dealt head on.
“During the period of his first 100 days as president, there is no indication of reform, peasants remained landless and continued to be targets of fascist attack such as extra-judicial killings and massive militarization,” Flores said.
Flores said that peasant victims of extra-judicial killings under Aquino’s watch now reach to 10, with the 77-year-old Pascual Guevarra as the first, killed last July 9, inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) in Laur, Nueva Ecija. In addition, killed were 2 in Paquibato District, Davao City, 4 were massacred in Mobo, Masbate, a coconut farmer in Compostela Valley and 2 in Antipolo, Rizal on September 19. KMP added that Dario Tomada, a peasant leader from SAGUPA – SB (KMP Eastern Visayas) was arrested on July 22 and accused falsely of the alleged “mass graves” in Leyte.
“There is no doubt that Aquino is a true-blue haciendero, in power only to preserve the feudal control of his class and serve US imperialism. Aside from the peasants, many sectors were affected by the continuing oil price hikes, budget cuts on social services, demolition of houses of urban poor, imminent increase of toll fees, rates of light rail transits and utilities, prices of basic goods are incessantly increasing. Aquino is useless to prevent this anti-people measures,” Flores said.
The groups called for heightened protest actions, primarily the peasantry as Aquino has no plan of implementing a genuine land reform program. Aquino is also bound to implement economic programs that prioritize foreign interests rather of the people.
“Aquino should quit playing games and eating hotdogs, instead, hasten plans of reforms if he really has one. His artificial popularity should not act like illegal drugs and he should immediately do concrete actions that would benefit the people. Otherwise, by the end of October his popularity would be as less as the number of his hair right now, inversely proportional to the number of Filipinos protesting against his government,” Flores dared. #