66 year old fisherfolk leader leads “surprise rally” at Gate 7 of Malacanang
Sixty six year old fisherfolk activist Pedro Gonzalez led 29 other farmer and fisherfolk leaders from Southern Tagalog in conducting an all rural people’s lightning rally or surprise rally at the Gate 7 of Malacanang Palace to denounce President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III and his running policy of land reform denials and political repression in the region.
Gonzalez, survivor of the ambush staged by elements of death squad allegedly back the Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during the May 2004 elections, along with farmer and fisherfolk leaders aging from 50 to 60 years old and all members of the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas-Timog Katagalugan (Pamalakaya-TK) trooped to the heavily guarded gate of Malacanang to warn Aquino of “intensified peasant war” over the President’s failure to address the land problem in Southern Tagalog.
“If Aquino wants war, we will give him war. There’s no turning back. They can’t stop me and the rural people from fighting for land and justice. His first 100 days in office is checkered with agrarian injustice, scores of human rights violations, triple platinum corruption and extreme disregard of people’s rights and welfare. This regime of Aquino is doomed,” added Gonzalez.
The “lightning rally” in Malacanang which is usually staged by student activists, will be the first time for Gonzalez and his group of senior farmer and rural leaders and the third protest launched by the groups this week onward the 10-day countdown of protest to Aquino’s first 100 days in office.
Gonzalez, also the secretary general of Pamalakaya-TK said he and other leaders will try to enter Malacanang to demand official responses from the President regarding on a set of concrete demands they submitted to the Office of the President on July 1, a day after Aquino was sworn into office as the 15th President of the Republic.
Among the demands they submitted to President Aquino three months ago was the immediate and free distribution of Ayala controlled lands in Southern Tagalog. Gonzalez said the set of demands received by Malacanang on July 1 include agrarian disputes in the 7,100 hectare Hacienda Yulo in Barangay Canlubang, Calamba City, Laguna.
Kasama-TK had also asked Aquino to act on the demand of some 10,000 farmer beneficiaries in Hacienda Looc to distribute for free the 8,650 hectare prime agricultural estate Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas and other haciendas in Southern Tagalog region controlled by the Ayala-Zobel family, which the group said was staunch ally of President Aquino.
“President Aquino, the Cojuangco-Aquino feudal clique and the Ayala-Zobel monopoly of land estates are conspiring to eject farmers so they could enjoy lifetime control and exploitation of lands in many parts of the region. This is the real story told several times but Noynoy remains unperturbed. Let us see in the next succeeding days of his presidency if he could still withstand the raging outrage from the countryside,” the farmer group warned.
Kasama-TK and Pamalakaya-TK also supported the call of 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita to have the sugar estate distributed immediately and for free. “President Aquino is the President of Hacienda Republic. The sugar barons and the rest of the feudal aristocrats and oligarchies in this country are further emboldened by Aquino’s national policy of rejection of peasant land rights and across-the-nation pattern of wholesale landgrabbing all over the country,” the groups noted.
Earlier, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Kasama-TK burned 100 pictures of President Aquino during a press conference held in front of the office of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Quezon City. The burning of 100 Aquino photos was a symbolic outrage against the 50-year old president’s inaction to agrarian complaints the farmers filed before Malacanang and the agrarian department beginning July 1 this year.
Citing a report filed by Ibon Foundation, the KMP said as of December 2006, DAR has cancelled at least 108,141 CLOAs and Emancipation Patents (EPs) involving 204,579 hectares. CLOA and EP cancellations are increased by 3,790% from 1995 data of 2,780, while land area increased by 1,162% from 16, 213 hectares. Of the cancellations, majority or 87% were due to subdivision of mother-CLOAs into individual CLOAs. It involved about 82% of the lands to 167,486 hectares.
“President Aquino should be called the Father of Haciendero in this country and the current no.1 enemy of the Filipino farmers”, the KMP said. #