The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA – TK) lambasted the speech of president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III calling for a “global people power against poverty” at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The groups said that the very essence of people power is for fundamental change such as genuine land reform for peasants and the smashing of feudal control such as what his family Cojuangco-Aquinos are attempting to preserve over the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita estate.
“Aquino is such a show off, bragging about people power that landlords like him exploited and taken advantage of. Majority of those who fought the Marcos dictatorship were peasants and from other poor sectors but his mother, former president Corazon Aquino massacred their protest on January 22, 1987 which is now historically known as the “Mendiola Massacre,” Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General said in a press statement.
“Aquino should also cure his amnesia when the military upon his family’s dictate, massacred the striking farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita on November 16, 2004, killing at least 7. People power and massacre of protesting farmers calling for genuine land reform are total opposites,” he added.
The groups said that former president Cory Aquino has also salvaged Hacienda Luisita and other estates of big landlords when she implemented the Republic Act 6657 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in 1988. CARP was extended twice in 1998 and 2008 until it was totally extended for 5 more years as CARP Extension with ‘Reforms’ on August 7, 2009. KMP said that in the 21 years of CARP, farmers remained landless and worse, driven out of their farms.
“For the Filipino peasants, Aquino’s name is equivalent to landlordism such as in Hacienda Luisita, CARP, Stock Distribution Option (SDO) and ‘massacre’ such as at Mendiola in 1987 and in Hacienda Luisita in 2004. He has no right to call for people power, may it be local or global,” Ramos said.
In addition, farmers from Southern Tagalog led by KASAMA – TK have been on camp-out in front of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform in Quezon City to call for land distribution of haciendas within the region such as Hacienda Yulo in Calamba, Laguna and Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas. The camp-out coincided Aquino’s inaugural on June 30 and was originally at Mendiola bridge until they were violently dispersed on July 3, resulting the arrest of 42 and wounding of 13 farmers.
“The people power we know is the democratic exercise of the people to call for fundamental change and fight oppression and exploitation, not the fascist use of government forces to massacre those who protest and exploit farmers to keep them impoverished. Aquino is an advocate of poverty of peasants, he has no moral right to call for a people power against poverty,” Axel Pinpin, KASAMA – TK Secretary-General said.
“The very struggle of Hacienda Luisita farmers are the model of people power, converting sugarlands into farms of food crops such as rice, vegetables and fruits. Their organized and united effort such as the ‘bungkalan’ (cultivation) is the concretization of the spirit of people power, poor Filipinos finally benefiting from their struggle, not the high-faluting macro-economic babble Aquino’s apologists are chattering about,” he added.
KMP said that if peasants are not to drum up their issues in the national scene, they have been long gone from their farms, thus, their incessant campaigns and protests keep them on the lands they have cultivated for decades.
“The peasant long marches, camp-outs, protests, these are the forms of people power, these are opposites of the SDO, deceptive and illegal referendum in Hacienda Luisita, CARPer, liberalization of agriculture, extra-judicial killings, Oplan Bantay Laya, Aquino’s continuation of anti-people and pro-foreign government programs and policies,” Ramos mentioned.
“We will illustrate people power next month, when we are to protest the 38th year of Marcos’ sham land reform program PD 27 and CARPer. By this time, Aquino would definitely know the real meaning of people power,” Ramos said. #