“Hacienda Luisita farmworkers are continuously deprived of their rights to land because of the dead CARP, resurrected by CARPer, and especially because of the non-land transfer scheme Stock Distribution Option,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General who joined the Luisita farmworkers at the plenary inside the House of Representatives.
Ambala and ULWU farmworkers have protested at the gates of the House of Representatives calling for the junking of CARPer and SDO, and the passage of House Bill 374 or Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB). GARB is filed by Anakpawis Rep. and KMP National Chair Rafael Mariano, alongwith representatives from Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Party, Kabataan and Act Partylist.
KMP said that CARPer is the continuation of further oppression and exploitation of Filipino farmers as it served for the interests of big landlords, agro-businesses and foreign corporations for 21 years during its CARP years. The very model of non-land transfer scheme and agrarian dispute is Hacienda Luisita which the former president Corazon Aquino promised to be distributed during her campaign for the 1986 snap presidential elections. Aquino also promised land reform on her dialogue with the KMP National Council leaders on June of 1986, again highlighting the Hacienda Luisita.
A year after People Power 1, the Aquino government failed its promise, thus, farmers were pushed to call for an implementation of a genuine land reform law. But they were massacred on January 22, 1987 which is now dubbed as the Mendiola Massacre. On June 10, 1988, Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was passed to be implemented for 10 years to end in 1998. CARP was first extended on 1998 as RA 8532, it was already plagued with problems and Filipino farmers have learned that it had no intention of realizing genuine land reform. Hacienda Luisita was covered by the Stock Distribution Option in 1989, hacienda lands such as Hacienda Looc were allowed to be exempted and converted, worse, farmers were displaced, massive cancellations of Cert. of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) were rampant nationwide.
“CARPer is only an extension of deceiving farmers and displacing us out of our farms. Particularly in Hacienda Luisita, SDO caused the poverty and misery of the more than 6,000 farmworker-beneficiaries. Thus, we call for their junking and the passage of HB 374 or GARB,” said Ramos.
KMP said that regional chapters in Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Negros, Southern Mindanao, Caraga, North Central Mindanao have drafted plans of peasant protest to commemorate the massacre. In addition, other regions are also preparing for their local protests such as Cagayan Valley, Eastern Visayas and Central Visayas.
“The November 16 commemoration would be a big peasant protest calling for justice for the massacre victims, as well as for the victims of human rights abuses under the Aquino government,” Ramos said.
KMP also said that the Aquino government has now tolled 13 peasant victims of extra-judicial killings, the first was Pascual Guevarra, an old peasant leader from Laur, Nueva Ecija, opposing the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), a project president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino was directly involved. The latest victim is Rene Rodriguez, peasant leader from Batangas opposing landgrabbing in Coral of the said province.
“On the way Aquino is running his government, it is very clear that he has no plans of genuine land reform, justice for the victims of human rights abuses during the Arroyo government, and stopping further attacks on the activists peasants. Aquino’s governance is turning into a dark age for the Filipino peasants,” Ramos said.
“If Aquino is thinking that Luisita farmworkers and Filipino farmers across the country would tire of calling for genuine land reform, he is totally crazy, as we are struggling for land and justice for decades, anti-peasant, pro-landlord and fascist presidents have come and go, but the struggle of the peasant movement continues with further resolution to effect change in the country,” Ramos said. #