More than 50 farmers rallied in front of the House of Representatives in Quezon City to call for the junking of charter change.  Leaders and members of the nationwide farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) demanded the immediate archiving of House Resolution 8 filed by former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that called for a constitutional convention to revise the 1987 constitution.  In addition, the group called out the junking of Republic Act 9700 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with ‘Reforms’ (CARPer), instead, demanded the Committee on Agrarian Reform to put into discussion the House Bill 374 or Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB).

“CARPer and Chacha are obvious threats to us farmers who till the lands.  CARPer serves big landlords by allowing them to grab more lands, cancel Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs), exemptions and Land Use Conversions (LUCs). While Chacha, would allow the 100% foreign ownership of land, a bigger threat to us and poor Filipinos as well,” said Antonio Flores, KMP Spokesperson.

KMP said that the more than 2 decades of CARP implementation has resulted to massive landgrabbing, displacement of farmers, LUCs.  Thus, the group affirmed that CARPer is to worsen landlessness and protect the interest of big landlords, compradors and foreign monopoly corporations.

“The Aquino government has yet to effect significant change to Filipino farmers.  The Cojuangco-Aquinos represented by Porsche-driving president Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino has yet to distribute Hacienda Luisita, an uncontestable proof that Aquino’s presidency is none other than to serve the interest of his landlord class and not the impoverished Filipinos,” Flores said.

KMP said that on the first year implementation of CARPer, of the 163,014 hectares target, only 64,329 hectares were processed and the bulk 41,000 hectares are under Voluntary Offer to Sell (VOS).  A minute 1,777 hectares were under Compulsory Acquisition (CA).  The group said that this is due to that landlords are exploiting the provisions of the law that empowers them to dictate the value of their lands, thus, making the program their milking cow and putting poor farmers into deeper debt and poverty.

“CARPer is nothing but an ATM machine for landlords, but a loan shark for the farmers and lands are kept under the control of the latter,” Flores added.

The group also said the charter change is a serious threat not only to farmers but also to Filipinos, ranging from the poor to the middle class.

“Chacha is the key to the systematic conversion of the country’s prime agricultural lands.  Foreign monopoly is on the watch to grab our lands for their super-profits and big landlords, compradors to collude with them, ready to exploit and displace small farmers,” said Flores.

KMP said that the existing development programs in the country is geared towards allowing 100% foreign ownership of land.  The CALABARZON project in Southern Tagalog, Metro-Luzon Urban Beltway (MLUB) and Subic  in Central Luzon, Aurora Pacific Eco Zon (APECO), Cagayan Economic Zone (CEZA) project and similar programs are patterned towards allowing foreign investors to fully own lands in our country.  However, the group said that these are all to put efficient means for foreign monopoly to exploit our country’s resources.

“The Aquino government has jumpstarted selling our country through his Public-Private Partnership and it is only a matter of time for Aquino to push for Chacha.  Thus, the happy-go-lucky president should prove himself that he is against Chacha by issuing a marching order to House Speaker Belmonte to immediately shoot down Arroyo’s House Resolution 8,” Flores said.

The group marked their protest by burning symbols of CARPer and Chacha and affirmed to lobby further for the passage of HB 374 or GARB at the House of Representatives and the junking of RA 9700 CARPer.  #

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