KMP leads protest against Arroyo's programs and policies

that further aggravated the rice crisis


Quezon City


July 21, 2008




Picket at the Department of Agriculture



July 21, 2008
WILLY MARBELLA, KMP Deputy Secretary-General for Internal Affairs
Mobile No. +63910-801-2029 (presently in Geneva, Switzerland)
Asian peasants unite against WTO; Peasant groups vindicated about destructive effects
As the WTO holds its mini-ministerial meeting in Geneva, Switzerland today, peasants from all over Asia, held concurrent protest actions in the Philippines, Indian states West Bengal, Andra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, as well as in Jakarta, Indonesia, against the said trade body, particularly its liberalization policies of countries' agricultural sector.
"The WTO is one of the most savage, heartless and inhumane institution at these modern times, as it aim to destroy poor countries' capacity to produce their own food, depress farmers economic well-being, and allow giant foreign corporations to exploit resources that should have been for the people," said Willy Marbella, KMP Deputy Secretary-General for Internal Affairs, in a phone patch, who's also attending the global people's actions in Switzerland.
"Since we united with other Asian peasant groups in 2003 and drew from each country's experience, WTO policies have only caused disaster to farmers, as well as to poor consumers, as it paved the way for agricultural imports that shaken the local market and sideswiped the local counterparts, shattering the food security of countries," added Marbella.
"Those so-called trade ministers talk only of how to more effectively exploit countries and oppress people.  No one should believe a word they're saying as the only strong and valid basis for any agreement should be the living testimonies of the people's sectors such as the farmers, whose livelihood has been wrecked by WTO," Marbella lamented.
KMP, with rural groups such as Pamalakaya-Pilipina s(fisherfolk) , UMA(agricultural workers), Amihan(peasant women) , other poor sectors groups and supporters have been banging the gates of Department of Agriculture and other government offices to call for the pulling out of agriculture and the whole country from WTO since 1995 (the year Philippines entered the WTO). 
Even before, KMP led the formation of PUMALAG (anti-GATT) in 1994, which later became the Pambansang Ugnayan ng mga Mamamayan Laban sa Liberalisasyon ng Agrikultura.  Subsequently, the peasant group led the formation of RESIST (against agro-chemical TNCs/MNCs) in 2001 and this year, the multi-sectoral alliance Bantay Bigas (against the rice crisis).  The group claims that even during the GATT-years, considering the social and economic structure of agriculture in the country, entry to WTO would be detrimental to the people, particularly to the farmers and poor sectors.
"The living proof is that what we feared more than a decade ago about the WTO entry has realized is the current rice crisis," Marbella noted.
"Should we say more about the rice crisis? The Arroyo government caused the destruction of our food sufficiency and self-reliance by adhering to WTO, the people has limited or no access to cheaper rice, there are who resorted to root crops," added Marbella.
KMP and other peasant groups have been holding protest actions in front of NFA warehouses for 2 weeks, calling it their "Monday Habit," to call for the implementation of genuine agrarian reform as the only solution for the country's food sufficiency and self-reliance.  Last Monday, they have been harassed by police intelligence agents, taking pictures of them, validating Arroyo's order to military and police intelligence forces to monitor unrest caused by the rice and economic crises, in general.
"It looks like that Arroyo is just waiting for some kind of rice revolt before she'd do anything significant about the crisis," closed Marbella.#


March and picket:

National Food Authority(NFA) warehouse, Visayas Avenue, QC




July 15, 2008

For reference:
WILLY MARBELLA, Deputy Secretary-General for Internal Affairs
Tel. No.: 928-41-84 (KMP Office)

Peasants, other sectors incite nationwide protest against rice crisis

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) spearheaded a systematic nationwide protest against Arroyo government programs and policies that led to the rice crisis that's hounding the country. They are joined by rural groups such as Pamalakaya, UMA, Amihan, as well as urban poor and worker groups.

Regional and provincial groups synchronized mass actions, such as in Southern Tagalog region, in Calamba, Laguna, Cavite, Lipa, Batangas, Rizal and Lucena, Quezon targeting Department of Agriculture and NFA offices. Moreover, regional and local formations of Bantay Bigas (alliance against rice crisis) held heated actions in Digos City by Consumer Alert, in Panay by People's Network for Food Security (PNFS) and Bicol by Bicol Alliance Against Rice Price Hike (BAGAS).

"Do we have to let it linger? Do we have to?" asked Willy Marbella, Deputy Secretary-General for Internal Affairs, referring to the rice crisis.

"This is the start of the people's rising against the problems concerning our rice supply. We've seen and experienced hardships in accessing NFA rice, and now, even NFA officials themselves in Bicol have confirmed that they are phasing out the P18.25 per kg rice," Marbella added.

"What we fear is that, this could cause mass unrest, just like what happened in Sultan Kudarat where rice warehouses were raided by hungry farmers during the Aquino government," recalled Marbella.

"It's just fortunate that they were upright and principled that they left their names, conveying that they're not stealing but just borrowing it. However, they were acquitted by the courts because their action was an act of desperation to survive," mentioned Marbella.

KMP has been long protesting that the country's entry to the World Trade Organization and signing with the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) has worsened the situation of the rice industry. Through this, the country has been obliged to import unnecessarily that resulted the marginalization of the local rice, depressing farmgate prices of palay.

Rice Imports 1990 - 2006 '000 MT

"Even their own data shows that there's a rapid increase in imported rice that snatched significant share of our gross supply. During the late 1990s, with the exception of 1998, imported rice shared around 3 to 7% of the local supply, but on 2005 and 2006 it played around 12 to 13.5% of the total rice consumed," Marbella explained.

KMP believes that WTO-AoA has shattered the country's agriculture, particularly rice, when the government implemented ceaseless importation that affected local producers forcing them to convert to other crops.

"Arroyo is applying her market-oriented dogma in agriculture, where it totally disregarded the importance of rice to the people, trying to replace it with cash crops to theoretically generate income that never happened," Marbella concluded.#


Members of GABRIELA-USA join picketing peasant group
▲Peasant leaders lambast the Arroyo regime ▼      


July 15, 2008

WTO visibly shattering food security

The Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) claimed that the government’s entry and concurrence to World Trade Organization (WTO) and Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) has wreaked havoc to the livelihood of farmers and other sectors, as well as to the food security of the third world countries.

WTO has signal-fired the dumping of heavily state-subsidized exports in developing countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, India and Bangladesh which dominoed marginalization of local produce, triggering bankruptcies and indebtedness to the farmers.

“Imported rice has sideswipe the locally produced that triggered pressing down on farmgate prices of palay,” opened Danilo Ramos, Secretary-General of APC and KMP.

“The flooding of imported rice gave local traders a bargaining chip to force farmers into selling palay at lower costs, which cyclically compelled them to convert into other crops or totally pawn or sell their farms,” Ramos added.

Generally, APC and KMP believed that governments such as Arroyo’s have deliberately authorized massive dumping to effect crop conversions and selling of lands to cater world market demands as concrete step of trade liberalization. However, as by-product, rapid decrease of rice farm hectarage has contributed to the country’s inability to independently supply its local demand, thus, government rationalizing importation.

Moreover, as the government executing WTO provisions destroyed the capacity of the country to produce food, world food market has been controlled by developed countries and generated superprofits by gradually increasing their prices at the cost of dependent countries such as the Philippines.

“We are now importing rice that is more expensive than those locally produced at milled stage, at the consumer end, people are lining up and being restricted with the maximum purchase of 5 kg of rice,” Ramos noted.

“The government is buying and losing at purchasing imported rice, but it has no intention of using its funds in buying the locally-produced because it tied its own hands as form of total puppetry to the WTO. It invokes non-intervention when it concerns the interests of giant foreign countries and corporations, but all hands in harming the welfare of poor farmers,” exclaimed Ramos.

“It’s all integral, that government consciously reduce rice farms to cater cash crops, complemented by the promotion of genetically- modified varieties of rice designed by the International Rice Research Institute, wishing of high tonnage per hectare that is only possible of the usage of inputs manufactured by giant foreign agro-chemical corporations,” Ramos described.

“All these giant foreign countries and enterprises are all that compose the WTO, in conspiracy with puppet governments such as Arroyo’s, they all play this wicked performance, deceiving and exploiting the peoples of the world by causing hunger, poverty and anarchy. The only way to end this is for all of the oppressed to unite and concert their massive actions,” concluded Ramos.#



Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)
July 14, 2008

For reference:
WILLY MARBELLA, Deputy Secretary-General for Internal Affairs
Tel. No.: 928-41-84 (KMP Office)

"We are right, globalization destroyed our agriculture, " - KMP

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas reiterated that the current rice crisis is a result of Arroyo government's globalization policies of agriculture. As our country entered the World Trade Organization (WTO), we have been obliged to import rice through minimum access volume provisions that paved the way to the systematic destruction of the local rice industry, resulting insufficiency and hunger to the poor people of the country. The Arroyo government did absolutely nothing but worsened the state of our agriculture and totally made us rice-import dependents.

"We have been opposing the WTO since then, more particularly the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), where it opened our market to foreign agricultural produce that is supposed to be our `comparative advantage.' But history has showed that it has only destroyed our rice industry, crippling us to depend on imports that are even more expensive than the local," Willy Marbella, Deputy Secretary-General for Internal Affairs noted.

The government has been deceiving the people that it has been importing rice to support local demand and claiming it's cheaper than those from local commercial unhusked. However, National Food Authority employees have claimed that imported rice is more expensive having landed cost of about P48 per kg, while local palay even at P17 per kg could only reach at about P34 per kg as its "rule of thumb" is about 100% increase from palay buying price to milling. Subsidizing the imported rice, the government spends a little less than P30 per kg for the price to reach P18.25 per kg. Thus, the government is deliberately bankrupting itself, worse, it wasted funds that should have been used to buy local palay.

"The Arroyo government is full of lies and actually destroying our food-producing capability by buying the more expensive imported rice and not buying those from local production, this is an effective means of killing the people in our country," Marbella exclaimed.

"Worse, the NFA through its restricted sale is essentially hoarding its rice, the people after buying their first 5 kg of rice, turn to hide and try to get rid of the indelible ink put on their thumbs. It's really dehumanizing as if it looked like they're the ones doing something wrong or illegal, when all they want is to buy rice in order for them not to walk long distance each day," added Marbella.

In resolute protest, KMP has planned sustained weekly protest at NFA Warehouses to rouse up poor people who fall in long queues.

"We really don't like Mondays as it's the day when people's stock from the previous week is all have been used up. We'll keep on banging the gates of NFA warehouses to show the people that Arroyo has abandoned them and making fools out of them by limiting their freedom and access to rice, worse, there are actually ones who stopped buying," Marbella concluded.#

Click here for Flash Report of GMA News of picket at NFA warehourse
Coming out of the NFA warehouse with their purchase of 3 kilos of ric