Peasants call for land, relief and justice


Metro Manila


Posted: October 28, 2009




Peasants led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) commemorated the anniversary of PD 27, the bogus land reform program of the Marcos dictatorship, on October 21, by a week-long series of protests and a relief mission to Central Luzon.


Photos courtesy of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)


On anniversary of PD 27: Peasants call for land, relief and justice

Peasants led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) commemorated the anniversary of PD 27, the bogus land reform program of the Marcos dictatorship, on October 21, by a week-long series of protests and a relief mission to Central Luzon.

KMP said that the October peasant campaign would deal mainly on the call for Genuine Land Reform and the immediate need of peasants distraught by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng for relief and rehabilitation. They have also called for justice for the victims of human rights abuses under the Macapagal-Arroyo regime.

Oplan Sagip Kanayunan

Oplan Sagip Kanayunan is a relief effort of peasant organizations to typhoon-hit areas under the Bayanihan Alay Sa Sambayanan (BALSA) led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan). Sagip Kanayunan is led by KMP, Pamalakaya-Pilipina s, Amihan, UMA, NNARA-Youth, Anakpawis Partylist and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP). The effort was able to deliver relief goods at Bgy. San Rafael, Montalban, Rizal on October 3, 6, 10 and 11. On October 12 and 18, the group delivered relief at Bgy. Tungkong Mangga, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan. Goods were also delivered at flooded fisherfolk areas in Binangonan, Rizal on October 4, 7 and 22.

International Rural Women’s Day

About 200 farmers from Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women and KMP held a camp-out in front of the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to commemorate the International Rural Women’s Day. They have accused the government, particularly the DENR of allowing mining and quarrying operations which they claim caused the massive destruction to their homes and crops brought about by typhoon Ondoy.

Their members who are from Montalban, Rizal, were greatly affected by the strong waters along Wawa river, causing the total destruction of 34 houses in Sition Santo Nino and Sitio EEA. Also, connecting water streams destroyed 4 houses at a nearby Sitio Wawa. Massive landslides also occured at the area. They have discussed climate change, its main causes and dangerous effects to the countryside.

World “Foodless” Day

More than a hundred peasants and supporters protested in front of the Dept. of Agriculture Central Office on October 16 to mark the World Food Day. To peasants, it was the World “Foodless” Day as liberalization of agriculture promoted by the government and subservience to the World Trade Organization (WTO) deepens poverty and hunger in the country. They were joined by supporters from India, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh, Laos, Thailand and Ecuador who recently participated an international workshop on hybrid rice held at University of the Philippines in Diliman. The peasants presented empty sacks of rice to show that nothing was left as their crops were totally destroyed by the typhoons.

Also, peasant leaders talked to agriculture officials, accompanied by Anakpawis Rep. and KMP Chair Rafael Mariano, regarding their promises of support to peasants and rehabilitation efforts on areas stricken by typhoons. They also presented their 10-point omnibus demands that mainly involves concrete support to farmers.

Peasant Caravan for Land, Relief and Justice

On October 18, KMP, Pamalakaya-Pilipina s( fisherfolk) and UMA(agri-workers) , supported by groups Citizens’ Disaster Reponsce Center (CDRC), Migrante International, All-UP Workers Union, Anakpawis Partylist, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) and individuals, joined the Peasant Solidarity Caravan for Land, Relief and Justice headed for Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Tarlac. They are to deliver relief goods to peasant areas, also, support their call for Genuine Land Reform at their areas. The caravan was part of Oplan Sagip Kanayunan.

The 56-strong national contingent led KMP Secretary-General Danilo Ramos and Pamalakaya-Pilipina s Chair Fernando Hicap proceeded first to Bgy. Sibul, San Miguel, Bulacan, where the 375-hectare productive agricultural lands are being grabbed by Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte. The farmers who are members of the Upland Farmers Association, Inc. (UFAI) and Lingap Magsasaka, are resisting Rep. Villafuerte’s threat of landgrabbing and continue to cultivate the lands they have developed since the 1950s. Rep. Villafuerte is using his daughter’s Green Earth Heritage Foundation as front to displace the farmers.

The national contingent were then joined by about 200 farmers and supporters at their solidarity night.

The next day, they proceeded to Gapan City, Nueva Ecija where they were joined by members of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (Alliance of Peasants in Central Luzon) who are farmers from Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Laur and from southern towns of the province. They proceeded to Cabanatuan City where they marched from the Freedom Park towards the public market. Afterwards they continued to head towards Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac City.

The group arrived at Hacienda Luisita late afternoon and landed on Bgy. Balite near the gate of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac sugar mill. They were joined by members of United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Hacienda Luisita (AMBALA). ULWU leaders led by Lito Bais hosted the group at held their relief mission at a basketball court in Bgy. Asturias. They were joined by hundreds of residents of different barangays inside Hacienda Luisita who are now benefitting from the cultivation of about 2,000 hectares, of crops such as rice, vegetables and fruits.

The next day, they proceeded towards Bgy. Dolores, San Fernando, Pampanga, in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Region 3 office. The group held a short program protesting against massive cancellations of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) and Emancipation Patents (EPs) in the region. They have lambasted DAR’s inaction and inefficiencies on the issues of landgrabbing of Rep. Luis Villafuerte in San Miguel, Bulacan, CLOA and EP cancellations in Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation and southern towns of Nueva Ecija and the indecisiveness on the issue of Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

The caravan proceeded and pierced through Pampanga and Bulacan. In Malolos City, they were joined by farmers from Bulacan province also holding a short program. The group then continued towards Manila to join farmers from Southern Tagalog and merge in front of the DAR Central Office in Quezon City.

Southern Tagalog peasant camp-out

About 300 farmer-members of Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK, Union of Peasant Associations in Southern Tagalog) held their camp-out in front of the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and DAR on October 19. They are protesting government inaction on the flooding of bayside towns of Laguna Lake, the construction of Laiban Dam in Tanay, Rizal and construction of R1 Coastal Road in Bacoor, Cavite.

The group has protested the massive cancellation of CLOA and EP and dislocation in Southern Tagalog, particularly in Hacienda Yulo in Laguna, Camella Homes in Batangas and Ayala properties in Cavite. They held their solidarity night in front of DENR which was attended by members of groups from different sectors.

On October 20, they held dialogue with DAR officials, accompanied by peasant lawyers from Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA, Center for Genuine Agrarian Reform). They were also joined by Anakpawis Rep. and KMP Chair Rafael Mariano. Also, KMP led groups San Isidro Sandigang Samahang Magsasaka (SASAMAG) from Bgy. Tungkong Mangga, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan and Parawagan Upland Farmers Association, Inc. (PUFAI) from Bgy. San Rafael, Montalban, Rizal.

Solidarity Night

On evening of October 20, hundreds of peasant-members of KASAMA-TK from Southern Tagalog, AMGL from Central Luzon and Hacienda Luisita agri-workers merged in front of the DAR Central Office. They were joined by members from other sectoral groups under Bayan such as Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Kadamay, Anakbayan, Anakpawis Partylist, All-UP Workers’ Union, Migrante International, ACT, Courage, Gabriela, Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), PCPR, Karapatan and more.

Peasant leaders dumped mud on a large CARPER symbol as their sign of protest. The program was initiated by KMP Secretary-General Danilo Ramos. The solidarity night hosted cultural performances from Southern Tagalog Cultural Network, Axel Pinpin, GARB Kids, People’s Chorale, KUMASA-Rizal, Karit and more. They were joined by Anakpawis Rep. and KMP Chair Rafael Mariano. More than 500 attended the solidarity night.

During the solidarity night, peasant and other sectoral groups gave honors to the fallen martyrs victimized by the Macapagal-Arroyo regime through its counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya. They have called for justice as human rights abuses such as extra-judicial killings (EJK), enforced disappearances and illegal arrests continues. To date, 560 peasants were victims of EJK and 118 of them were leaders of KMP such as Eddie Gumanoy (KASAMA-TK), Renato Pacaide (KMP Far Southern Mindanao Region), Marcelino Beltran (AMT Tarlac), Fermin Lorico (Kaugmaon Negros Oriental), Celso Pojas (FADC Davao City) and more. Moreover Nilo Arado (PAMANGGAS Panay) and Manuel Merino (AMB) were abducted and still missing.

Peasant Long March for Land, Rehabilitation and Justice

More than 500 peasants from KMP, Pamalakaya-Pilipina s, Amihan, UMA, KASAMA-TK, AMGL, ULWU, ALMANA-FMMR, PUFAI, SASAMAG and TMUFAI lined up along Quezon Memorial Circle in front of DAR Central Office. They were joined by members from Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, KMU, Kadamay, Anakpawis Partylist, Anakbayan, LFS, HEAD, Courage, Migrante International and other groups.

The march was backdropped as “Lupa, Rehabilitasyon at Hustisya, Ipaglaban! CARPER Ibasura!” (Struggle for Land, Rehabilitation and Justice! Junk CARPER!) They headed towards Mendiola and along Quezon Avenue and Welcome Rotonda, more groups have joined their long march.

They have reached Mendiola Bridge and commenced with their burning of 1,000 picture of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The mobilization reached more than 1,000 activists from different groups. At Mendiola, Anakpawis Rep. and KMP Chair Rafael Mariano discussed deeply the peasants’ critique of CARPER, mainly regarding the strengthening of landlords’ rights against peasants. According to Mariano, CARPER has empowered more means for the landlords to displace peasants off their lands.

On the recent effects of typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng, they have proposed their 10-point omnibus demands to the Dept. of Agrarian Reform and Dept. of Agriculture. They are as follows:

1. the junking of CARPER law and the free distribution of land to landless and land lacking farmers all over the country;
2. support repair and construction of homes of farmers and rural people destroyed or uprooted at the height of tropical storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng;
3. rehabilitation of farms and granting of seeds and seedlings for rice, corn, vegetables and other farm crops;
4. financial grant of about P 10,000 to P 15,000 per hectare;
5. zero interest credit line to the Land Bank of the Philippines amounting to P 10,000 to
P 15,000 per hectare;
6. provisions for farm implements such as tractors, hand tractors and carabaos for free.
7. setting up of potable water supply;
8. a halt if not moratorium on irrigation fees imposed by the National Irrigation Authority and private irrigation systems;
9. livelihood to rural people;
10. automatic repudiation of farm debts, if not moratorium in payment of principals and interests on acquired loans from landlords and local financial institutions.

Laguna Lake peasant and fisherfolk organizations are also calling for the dismantling of Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure in Pasig as it is the main cause of increase in water level and massive floodings on communities along the lake.

KMP, with its regional chapters KASAMA-TK (Southern Tagalog) and AMGL (Central Luzon) affirmed their call for Genuine Land Reform and junking of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with “Reforms” (CARPER) or Republic Act 9700.

They are resolutely calling for free land distribution of the haciendas in Southern Tagalog, Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, Fort Magsasay Military Reservation in Nueva Ecija, lands in Bgy. Tungkong Mangga, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan and Bgy. San Rafael, Montalban, Rizal. They are also opposing landgrabbing threats of Rep. Luis Villafuerte in San Miguel, Bulacan, the construction of Laiban Dam in Tanay, Rizal.

The October Peasant Campaign was considered successful as it deepened the understanding of peasants and urban-based sectors on the problem of landlessness, the worse effects of CARPER and the inaction of the government on countryside disaster areas.




October 16, 2009
ROY MORILLA, KMP Public Information Officer (63-907-418- 0098)

Groups present to DA 9-point omnibus demands for peasant typhoon victims

To mark World Food Day, October 16, established by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) since 1981, peasant groups such as the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) , Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, Pamalakaya-Pilipina s, UMA and Anakpawis Partylist tabled their 9-point omnibus demands for peasant victims of typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng to the Dept. of Agriculture in Quezon City. Their dialogue was beefed up by 150 peasants and supporters from nearby farm areas such as Montalban, Rizal and San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.

"We are formally presenting our immediate demands that would concretely alleviate the well-being of peasants hit by typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng," said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General.

"Our demands clearly include about support in housing, rehabilitation of farms, grant of seeds and seedlings for rice, corn, vegetables and other farmers' crops, financial assistance of about P10,000 to P15,000 per hectare, a credit line to the Land Bank of the Philippines amounting to P10,000 to P15,000 per hectare, tractors, hand-tractors and carabao, setting-up of potable water supply, one year or equivalent to the value of two successive croppings moratorium on irrigation fees to National Irrigation Authority and private irrigation systems and livelihood to seasonal farmworkers, " shared Ramos.

The groups insisted that any assistance should be given to legitimate peasant and people's organization to avoid vulnerability to scams such as what happened to the P218.7 million rice scam where support and subsidies were allegedly given to dummy organization and foundations.

Based on NDCC, damage to agriculture brought about by typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng reached to P13.2 billion, also caused the 682 deaths, who the groups believe are majorly peasants. About 140,156 houses were also destroyed and damaged.

"What we are facing are really serious. Filipino peasants are now in deep poverty but support from government agencies such as the DA is scarce if not nil. We could still recall that we asked for help of the DA when typhoon Frank hit the country last year, seriously damaging the island of Panay . Our members in PAMANGGAS (KMP Panay Region) asked us to coordinate with the DA central office but to no avail," Ramos said.

The group was also joined by peasant leaders from DAGAMI (KMP Isabela), also foreign delegates from India , Indonesia , China , Malaysia , Papua New Guinea , Bangladesh , Laos , Thailand and Ecuador who participated in an international workshop regarding hybrid rice at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. The hybrid rice workshop was sponsored by MASIPAG, GRAIN and KMP, in line with the World Food Day.

"Also, to us farmers, October 16 is a world foodless day, as we are now facing the effects of typhoons, and even without, our livelihood are being slaughtered by unproductive land rent, high cost of production and competition to cheap imported agricultural products as the Arroyo government push through with more liberalization of agriculture, " said Ramos.

The group affirmed that the long-term solution to the food crisis is the implementation of genuine land reform in the country. This would firmly secure the supply of food and develop self-reliance. Genuine land reform also contradicts the market-oriented character of agriculture which gives primacy to requirements of foreign markets than the needs of the people.

"At present, we call for the immediate support of the government, the international aid amounting to P0.5 billion should be used directly for the benefit of the peasant victims and not into someone's pocket," called Ramos.#



MEDIA ADVISORY Reference: Imelda Lacandazo

October 16, 2009 Spokesperson, KASAMA-TK

Attention: Newsdesks and Photo Sections

“Genuine land reform: best rehabilitation program for the country”

On October 16, 2009, the peasant group Kasama-TK and other militant organizations will be organizing a press conference to call for the junking of the pro-landlord CARPER law, and the legislation of a more radical and genuine land reform program as a long term-solution to the effects of recent typhoon disasters.

The press conference will kick-off the series of protest activities set to commemorate this year’s Peasant Week.

“Farmers are helpless in the face of disasters because of the lack of livelihood, lack of social services, the lack of a genuine land reform program, and the incompetency of the Arroyo regime to give immediate relief and address disaster damages. The state of farmers are even worsened by continuing repression and militarization in the countryside. The best way to rehabilitate the country is through radical distribution of land to farmers.”

- Imelda Lacandazo, Kasama-TK spokesperson



October 28, 2009
For Immediate Release


THE Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Northern Mindanao Region joins today thousands of farm and mill workers in Hacienda Luisita in calling for the scrapping of a management memo that orders them to stop planting in their collective farms until October 30 this year.

“Miduyog karon ang mga mag-uuma ug mga trabahante sa uma dinhi sa atong rehiyon sa pag-demanda nga ihunong na ang pagpanglutos sa mga mag-uuma sa Hacienda Luisita kay susama lang usab kini nga ang tibuok katawhang mag-uuma ang gilutos ug gihulga ang katungod sa yuta ug panginabuhian,” (Farmers and farmworkers in the region join today in demanding an end to tyranny against the farmers in Hacienda Luisita because this is also similar to committing tyranny and harassment the right to land and livelihood of farmers),) Rudy Progella, KMP-Northern Mindano region chairperson said today.

Progella also called on Senator “Noynoy”Aquino to immediately act on the controversy to avoid further displacement to farmers who were recently affected by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, and will be further displaced should this memorandum take effect on Friday.

“Amo usab gihagit si Sen. (Noynoy) Aquino nga mohimo karon og kongkretong aksyon batok sa maong memorandum pinaagi sa pagkumbinsi sa iyang pamilya nga wagtangon kini nga memorandum kay dako kini nga implikasyon sa iyang kandidatura,” the militant farmer leader said. (We also challenge Sen. Aquino to come up today with a concrete action against this memorandum by urging his family to scrap this memorandum because this has a big implication to his candidacy)

KMP together with its allied organizations in the region has also issued a nationwide call for the Aquino family to act on the victims of the 2004 massacre in the 6,453 hectare sugar plantation that left 14 farmers dead including 2 children. Up to this day, no one has been convicted of the massacre when 1,000 police and military personnel opened fire to 6,000 striking workers and families of the hacienda who were demanding for an increase in their daily wages.

KMP Northern Mindanao also expresses its support on the “Brown Ribbon” campaign now circulating in the internet that seeks to gather support from the urban middle class, students, professionals, church people, women and other sectors.

The issue in Hacienda Luisita is not isolated for it also affects our farmers here who were also displaced and landless because of the government policy on land use conversion including the displacement of 500 farmers in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental in favor of Hanjin Shipyard; farmers in Buffalo, Tamaraw and Litmus in Musuan, Bukidnon; cases of CLOA, CLT, and EP cancellations in favor of operations of logging and mining companies in Gingoog City, and several cases of lumad dislocation in Agusan del Norte, and other cases.

KMP Northern Mindanao said this scenario will further worsen with the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPer) that cements land use conversion as a national policy.

Hacienda Luisita is a sample case of government’s insincerity to implement genuine land reform where the Cojuangco clan has repeatedly refused to honor its commitment that placed the vast estate into land reform.

Hacienda Luisita is in fact a land that is rightfully to the farmers based on a 1957 agreement between Jose Cojuangco Sr. and the Bangko Sentral and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). Cojuangco never paid for the acquisition of the lands but the funds coming from the BSP and GSIS amounting to more than P5 million pesos, with the condition that the lands will be distributed to legitimate small planters as part of the government’s social justice program of then President Ramon Magsaysay. ###

For Reference:



Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan - Timog Katagalugan

Reference person: Imelda Lacandazo, Spokesperson, Kasama-TK
October 19, 2009

Dumagats, farmers stage protest vs Laiban Dam, hit anti-people dev’t projects

Leaders of indigenous Dumagat communities in Tanay, Rizal stage a protest against the revival of the mothballed Laiban Dam Project which they said would submerge 7 barangays in Tanay and 2 in Gen. Nakar, Quezon province. The protest rally, also joined by farmers, fisherfolks and other sectors from Southern Tagalog, is part of the weeklong activities to commemorate peasant week.

Among the Dumagat leaders, Lupe de la Cruz,70 of Sitio Nayon, Brgy. Sta. Ines, Tanay said that they are firm in their stand against the construction of the dam citing its severe effects to their livelihood, safety, and ancestral domain.

“Mawawalan kami ng tirahan at ang ang aming mga pananim ay lalamunin ng tubig. Papaalisin kami sa aming lugar na hindi naman namin alam kung ang paglilipatan sa amin ay may pananim o wala; o kung malaya ba kaming nakakapaglakad katulad sa aming lupang ninuno na walang humahadlang sa amin”, he said

The Laiban Dam project which started in the 1970s recently saw its revival following moves of San Miguel Bulk Water Co., Inc, a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation owned by landlord Danding Cojuangco to submit an unsolicited joint venture proposal to MWSS to develop the dam.

Government data showed that some 4,413 families will be directly displaced including Dumagat and Remontado communities, while downstream communities are also at risk of disastrous flooding should the project pushes through.

De la Cruz also chided military atrocities in their area, ranging from intimidation to direct threats among residents vocal against the project. Increased military presence were also observed in the area.

“Mahirap lumabas sa mga kabayanan dahil iniimbestigahan kami ng mga militar, tinatanong kung kasapi ng NPA”, he furthered.

On October 17-18, Dumagat leaders joined the solidarity mission “Lakbay Pakikiisa”, initiated by multi-sectoral groups in the region led by BAYAN-ST, Serve the People Corps, Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Kabataan and the indigenous Katribu partylists to provide relief and rehabilitation to communities in Tanay, Rizal that have yet to receive help from the government despite the damage Typhoon Ondoy has wrought.

The group traversed the bumpy roads for 4 hours leading to Brgy. Sta. Ines, where at least 1,300 families waited and availed of the relief goods. Medical and psycho-social services were also extended to the residents.

The coordinated protests also marked the 18th anniversary of Calabarzon Project, an extensive development project in Region IV-A which has brought destruction to peasants, fisherfolks, and urban poor communities over the region in favor of foreign and local business interests.

“The 18 years of Project CALABARZON has only brought tragedy and has only worsened the lives of the people in the region with its pro-capitalist and pro-imperialist leaning. The government made it appear as a developmental project when in reality, only few business interests who would benefit from it”, said Imelda Lacandazo, spokesperson of the militant KASAMA-TK.

She furthered that massive land conversion and infrastructure building have already displaced farmers, fisher folks and urban poor communities, and have caused serious blow to the environment.

Similar protest actions were also held in Batangas Pier and Trece Martires City in Cavite while members of the Save Laguna Lake Movement also staged a protest caravan going to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources office in Quezon City.

The caravan from Rizal will also stage protest actions in Benpres holdings where displaced farmers from Brgy. Macabud in Rodriguez, Rizal will air their grievance against the Lopez owned Bantay Kalikasan. The caravan will then head to the Department of National Defense and the MWSS offices before joining the Laguna delegation in a protest march from the Department of Agrarian Reform to the DENR office. #

For inquiries, contact Edge @ 09173626820



October 20, 2009
Press Release
For Reference: ROY MORILLA, KMP information officer
Contact No: 09074180098

Calamity stricken farmers to stage camp-out at DAR tonight to press 10-point demand

About 1,000 calamity farmer victims in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog region on Tuesday night are gearing up for a rural camp-out at the national office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to press their 15-point immediate demand to Malacanang, the DAR and the Department of Agriculture, which they argued will address the rural crisis worsened by storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng.

In a joint press statement, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Anakpawis party list, the Alyansa ng Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) and the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) will present the set of demands on the eve of their long march from DAR to Malacanang on Oct.21 dubbed as Farmers’ March for Land, Justice and Rehabilitation”

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said the devastating impact of typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng is best addressed by the following measures:

1. Free distribution of land to landless and land lacking farmers all over the country. In particular, farmers from Central Luzon represented by AMGL demanded the immediate and unconditional free distribution of 375 hectares of land in San Miguel, Bulacan allegedly landgrabbed by Rep. Luis Villafuerte, the 3,100 hectares of prime agricultural lands inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation and the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita owned by the family of the late President Corazon Aquino in Tarlac province.

In Southern Tagalog, peasant groups demanded the free distribution of all agricultural lands owned and controlled by rich families like the Ayalas and the Yulos in the region. Kasama-TK also pressed the government to stop all Calabarzon projects in Southern Tagalog, including the controversial Laiban dam project.

2. Support housing projects for farmers and rural people whose homes were destroyed or uprooted at the height of tropical storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng.
3. Rehabilitation of farms and granting of seeds and seedlings for rice, corn, vegetables and d other farm crops
4. Financial grant of about P 10,000 to P 15,000 per hectare
5. Zero interest credit line to the Land Bank of the Philippines amounting to P 10,000 to
P 15,000 per hectare
6. Provisions for farm implements such as tractors, hand tractors and carabaos.
7. Setting up of potable water supply.
8. Moratorium on irrigation fees imposed by the National Irrigation Authority and private irrigation systems.
9. Livelihood to rural people
10. Automatic repudiation of farm debts, if not moratorium in payment of principals and interests on acquired loans from landlords and local financial institutions

The KMP official said they will campaign the 10-point omnibus demands by pursuing aggressive lobby work in concerned government agencies, including the Senate and the House of Representatives and mass mobilizations in the streets, asserting the immediate and long term demands are matters of life and death to farmers and the rest of the rural people.

Yesterday, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) reported that damage to property brought by storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng reached the P 16-billion mark. The disaster agency said P 11. 68 billion of the damage or 72% represents total damage to local agriculture, while
P 4.68 billion or 28 percent represents damage to infrastructure. #




IBON Features / October 2009

Landlessness and Peasant Woes: A Lingering Calamity

Disaster or no disaster, this year’s Peasant Month again finds the Filipino farmer still deep in distress from the effects of unprecedented land-use conversion, land monopoly, high rent, usury and low wages, lack of government support and a litany of social injustices

By Xandra Bisenio

IBON Features—Recent tropical storms Ondoy and Pepeng reportedly caused P20 billion worth of damages to agriculture and destroyed crops amounting to P11 billion. But disaster or no disaster, this year’s Peasant Month again finds the Filipino farmer still deep in distress from the effects of unprecedented land-use conversion, land monopoly, high rent, usury and low wages, lack of government support and a litany of social injustices—or the failure that was the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

The CARP Extended with Reforms or CARPER, which Congess passed this year, will be hounding the peasantry for another five years as it retains the original CARP’s pro-landlord provisions.

Unprecedented land use conversion
The conversion of agricultural lands to commercial use has left farmers only poorer and with little or no land to till. Because of land use conversions (LUCs), farm area fell by 304,078 hectares between 1991 and 2002. Under the Arroyo administration, more than 20,000 hectares of agricultural lands awarded to farmers outside Metro Manila have been canceled, displacing more than 10,000 farmer families. In 1995, a total of 2,780 emancipation patents (EPs) and certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) covering 16, 213.36 hectares awarded to peasants were canceled mostly due to LUCs. In December 2006, the number ballooned to 108,141 EPs/ CLOAs canceled, covering 204,579 hectares.

No amount of lip service by the Arroyo administration calling for any moratorium can possibly recall these cases of extensive land use conversion: In 2007, through Executive Order 647, 21 barangays of the municipality of Nasugbu, Batangas covering 14,000 hectares of rice lands, sugar farms and coastal areas were declared as a major tourism destination and part of the Tourism Economic Zone. Last year, by virtue of DOJ Opinion No. 44, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) approved 22,900.34 hectares of agricultural lands for exemption from CARP coverage in the Central Luzon and Calabarzon regions for conversion to either residential or commercial use. Also last year, presidential brother-in-law Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo pushed for the conversion of his family’s 157-hectare Hacienda Bacan into agro-industrial uses, particularly for the production of ethanol. These cases of LUCs alone already cover 37,057 hectares of farmlands, surpassing 11,721 hectares approved for LUC during the Estrada administration and 19, 726.53 hectares under Ramos.

Earlier cases of farmlands converted for commercial, residential and eco-tourism ventures have also led to CLOA cancellations and the eviction of hundreds of peasant families such as the First Cavite Industrial Estate by Marubeni Corporation of Japan involving 232 hectares; Hacienda Looc in Batangas with 8,650 hectares, 400 hectares in Aplaya Laiya, Batangas and 218 hectares in Silang and Dasmarinas, Cavite.

Land monopoly fortified
While government claims that the CARP has successfully reached 80% of its reduced scope, genuine land distribution remains elusive. Only 1% of the entire Philippine population still owns almost 1/5 of the country’s total agricultural lands while 2 million farmers are left to divide another 1/5 among themselves.

Land reform programs have been slow to acquire most of privately owned-land, including commercial farms and plantations. According to Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, only 1.9 million hectares out of 6.2 million hectares of distributed agricultural lands from 1988 to present were private. Still, data from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in 2008 shows that the remaining 1.2 million hectares of private agricultural lands for distribution under CARP’s Compulsory Acquisition actually constitutes the largest percentage of the total remaining undistributed land at 94 percent. Meanwhile, 82% of the supposedly distributed agricultural lands still have pending cases and have not yet been physically distributed. It should also be noted that the scope of CARP had actually been reduced from 10.3 million hectares in 1988 to only 8.1 million hectares.

The Voluntary Land Transfer (VLT) scheme has also been proven to undermine genuine land distribution, as DAR overseers attest that a huge 70% of VLTs involved landlords evading CARP coverage. Though DAR data shows the VLT mode's accomplishment to have soared to 248% this year, its character of direct land transfer from landlords to farmers with minimal government intervention allowed relatives to be named as beneficiaries; DAR reports were tampered with to count ordinary, non-CARP land sales as CARP accomplishments and ‘joint ownership’ arrangements between landlords, agribusinesses and farmers saw the latter at the losing end. The World Bank’s concrete recommendation of completing CARP through a market-assisted land reform towards privatizing communal lands and promoting land markets, suits globalization and endorses VLTs, with limited government subsidy and assistance from international financial institutions. Thus, VLT and the voluntary offer to sell (VOS) modes are encouraged by DAR more than it perseveres in Compulsory Acquisition.

It is therefore not surprising that the landscape of land ownership in the Philippines has barely changed. In fact, big landlords remain dominant around the country, such as Danding Cojuangco Jr. owning 30,000 hectares in Negros, Isabela, Cagayan, Davao del Sur, Palawan and Cotobato; the Cojuangcos, Faustino Dy and Juan Ponce Enrile sharing 13,085 hectares in Iligan, Isabela; the Zobel-Ayalas with more than 12,000 hectares of land in Calatagan, Batangas and the Floreindo Family with 11,048 hectares in Davao and Davao del Norte.

Unjust rent, low wages and usury
Apart from the ages-old miserable working conditions of Filipino peasants prevalent in foreign and local agribusinesses, haciendas and farms, feudal rent, low wages and usury continue to immiserate the Filipino peasant.

The 60-40 to 10-90 distribution of gross harvest favorable to landlords remains intact. In the Southern Tagalog and Eastern Visayas , studies by farmers' groups KASAMA-TK and SAGUPA-SB show that land tillers still receive a low 19%-21% of the gross sales of harvested palay.

The actual amount peasants earn fall way below the agricultural daily minimum wages that range from P151 to P212 nationwide: P20 per day in Negros, P50 in Samar and P69 in Cagayan Valley . In the 6,000-hectare sugar lands of Hacienda Luisita, farm workers receive a measly weekly pay of P9.50, in gross violation of the P273 daily wage set by the Regional Wage Board (RWB). In the sugar plantations of Batangas, over 50,000 agricultural workers receive P35 to P150 per day, still below the P211 set by the RWB. In the sugar lands of Negros where the RWB set wages at P203 per day, farm workers receive only P30 to P200 per day. In Far South Mindanao, where the RWB prescribed P205 per day for wages, farm workers get only P80 to P130 daily.

Extreme poverty compels farmers to usury, where they are obliged to pay high interest rates for credit. It ranges from 15%-35% per cropping season up to anywhere between 100%-300% per harvest and 400% per year, plus peripheral favors loan sharks demand from farmers.

Lack of support
That Agrarian Reform Communities (ARCs) have not progressed both in scope and in terms of support received demonstrates how CARP is bound to fail even despite its five-year extension. Chosen by government to supposedly focus CARP funds on, in these barangays, agribusiness companies engage Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) in contract growing, joint venture or lease arrangements for the production of crops for export. These were supposed to showcase the success of CARP.

However, only 3 out of 10 CARP beneficiaries are covered by 1,959 ARCs. ARCs also suffer from lack of government support. Only 7.9 out of 10 ARCs or 655,437 beneficiaries have received official development assistance. Most of these beneficiaries reportedly have pending land disputes, hinting that despite the hype, the farmers have not benefited substantially at all.

The CARP itself suffers from lack of support. According to a German Technical Assistance (GTZ)-commissioned review of the CARP in 2007, CARP lacked the support services and credit that farmer beneficiaries needed to prosper. The study revealed DAR’s admission “that about 3 million out of the 4 million farmer-beneficiarie s did not receive any support services.” The GTZ further exposed that “only 50% of the required funding for CARP was allotted by government” and “60% of the funds allotted went mainly to personnel salaries”. This is amid the decline of the share of land distribution in the national budget from 8% in 2004 to merely 3% in 2009.

CARPER, another tropical depression?
For Filipino farmers, the CARPER is another storm to be weathered, a strengthening of the anti-peasant CARP. Under it there is no intention to plan agriculture and boost local productivity primarily to meet the people's basic needs. It is seen to accelerate the maximization of ARCs for the benefit of big local and foreign agribusinesses, as well as perceived cronies of the administration.

In the wake of the recent typhoons, the Philippine Forest Corporation cited that the massive plantation of biofuel source jatropha provides sustainable income for small farmers. Note that of the 375,091 hectares planted to jatropha, 10,000 have been leased to Teves Co. owned by the brother of close Arroyo ally and Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, and 7,450 hectares were committed in a joint venture with the local government of Camarines Sur headed by the son of another Arroyo ally Cong. Luis Villafuerte, who has recently advanced in grabbing 375 hectares of farmlands in San Miguel Bulacan for commercial development.

This October, no less than the US Secretary of Agriculture and 20 American agribusiness firms are coming to the Philippines in a “mission” to form partnerships with 200 local companies in in accordance with the US Agricultural Trade and Assistance Act. In July, South Korean Firm Jeonnam Feedstock Ltd has leased 94,000 hectares of farmland in Mindoro to grow animal feeds.

According to the KMP, President Arroyo is planning to sell 3 million hectares to foreign agro-corporations, reserving 1 million hectares for the Cojuangco-Kuok Group partnership, another for China-firm Fuhua Co., a hybrid rice corporation, 40,000 hectares to the Agriculture Department of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (ADGZAR) of China, 200,000 hectares to the Beijing Hualian Group (BHG) of China, and 60,000 hectares to the Pacific Bio-Fields Corp. of Japan.

Pushing the peasantry deeper in poverty
These ventures are seen to worsen the problems in the production of rice, vegetable and livestock industry brought about by the influx of imported agricultural products. Although some groups request for exemption, that the Philippines is party to the Asian Free Trade Agreement which will soon relax tariffs on imports including agricultural products is no consolation. The country is now the world's no. 1 rice importer, pushing farmers and producers into deeper debt and poverty. From 2001 to 2008, farmgate prices of rice increased by only P6 per kg, from P8.17 to P14.13 per kg, while the price of rice has hiked by P12, from P17.54 to P29.38. Local production's share to the country's gross supply decreased from 74%to 70% while the share of imported rice increased significantly from 7% to 16 percent.

Weathering the storm
The implementers of the failed CARP still owe the Filipino people, especially the farmers, an accounting of the P162 billion allocated for the program that ran for 20 years. There is reason to believe that the P150 billion-budget allocated for the program's 5-year extension may end up being used to further vested landlord and business interests.

Similar to the devastation suffered by the people on the onslaught of Ondoy and Pepeng, the hardships imposed by anti-peasant programs, whether it be the CARP or its extended version, are borne out of a system plagued with indifference to the needs and aspirations of the people. As ordinary Filipinos are helping one another in the difficult process of rising up from the destruction caused by the super-typhoons, it is becoming ever clearer that the realization of genuine agrarian reform lies in the relentless struggle of the Filipino peasants. IBON Features (Based on “An Imperative for Genuine Agrarian Reform” IBON Special Release, June 2009)