Groups “declare” the Philippine islands, “Chacha-Free Zone,”

lambast Arroyo’s selling of a tenth of country’s lands to foreign countries

 

Luneta Park, Manila

 

June 24, 2009

 

 

About 20 members of militant peasant groups such as the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines), Pamalakaya-Pilipinas (fisherfolk), Amihan (peasant women), UMA (agri-workers), NNARA-Youth (peasant advocates) and Anakpawis Partylist “declared” the replica of the Philippine islands at Rizal Park, Manila as a “Chacha-Free Zone.” They significantly protested againts the provision of the Charter Change, allowing 100% foreign ownership of land.

   
   
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Photos courtesy of Anakpawis Partylist
           
           

 

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas
(Peasant Movement of the Philippines)
161-B Chico St., Proj. 2, Quezon City
Telefax 928-41-84 Email ad kmp@kilusangmagbubukid.org
Website www.kilusangmagbubukid.org

PRESS RELEASE
June 24, 2009
REFERENCE:
Roy Morilla, KMP Public Information Officer (0905-421-7305)

Groups “declare” the Philippine islands, “Chacha-Free Zone,” lambast Arroyo’s selling of a tenth of country’s lands to foreign countries

About 20 members of militant peasant groups such as the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines), Pamalakaya-Pilipinas (fisherfolk), Amihan (peasant women), UMA (agri-workers), NNARA-Youth (peasant advocates) and Anakpawis Partylist “declared” the replica of the Philippine islands at Rizal Park, Manila as a “Chacha-Free Zone.” They significantly protested againts the provision of the Charter Change, allowing 100% foreign ownership of land.

“We are declaring the 7,107 islands of the country Cha-cha-Free Zone,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General. He added, “This is to signify our call against Chacha and the 100% foreign ownership of land. This is against genuine land reform and against the fundamental interest of the Filipino people to utilize our country’s land and should not to be sold to foreign countries.”

Selling 10% of the country’s lands, 20% of agricultural lands

The group said that this is the implementation of President Arroyo’s plan since she has been stating that 3 million hectares of lands would be allocated to foreign countries, such 1 million hectares for Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco’s partnership with the Malaysian firm Kuok Group, 1 million hectares for China through the RP-China Agreement on Agriculture, and about 0.4 million hectares for United Kingdom-based Japanese firm Bio-Energy NL. Also, Arroyo’s trip to South Korea reports of deal on bio-fuel.

“With the 3 million hectares alone, Arroyo is actually selling 10% (of the 30 million hectare) of the Philippine territory and 20% (of the about 14.1 million hectare) of our agricultural lands to foreign countries,” disclosed Ramos.

“Selling the country is definitely treason, betrayal of the Filipino people and long history of fighting against foreign rulers controlling our lands, Arroyo should be condemned by Filipino citizenry for pushing the 100% foreign ownership of land,” added Ramos.

“Arroyo is turning our country into a big area for lease agreements that usually take 25 years and renewable for another 25 years, which is essentially selling out our lands as peasants cultivating the lands would be transformed into poor farmworkers stripped off of their rights to land, and foreign corporations would enjoy total control,” shared Ramos.

The Arroyo government is step-by-step selling our country as she started with RP-China Treaty, Japanese-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), and other bilateral agreements that are onerous and unfavorable to the country.

 

Also, the government is eager to cash in the $1,000-per-hectare venture with Cojuangco and Kuok Group, pushing for the utilization of 1 million hectares, making the project value at $1 billion for 25 years.

In addition, Arroyo’s latest trip to Korea shows her hunger for the $649 million investment on biofuel and $49 million coconut-based sweeteners to be cultivated on ‘idle’ lands. The Arroyo government depicts lands as idle which are in reality lands kept from farmers cultivating them.

Moreover, KMP said that it criticized Arroyo’s subservience to the European Union (EU) who was reported to request the Philippine government to remove the ban of foreign ownership to land and to fully implement the provisions of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“Foreign countries formation such as the EU would certainly salivate with the country’s vast resources, it is up to Filipinos to fight against this measure and we could start by opposing Chacha and removing Arroyo from power as she is the primary broker of this transaction,” said Ramos.

Foreign ownership through CARPER

“This is also a strong basis of why Arroyo pushed for the passage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with ‘Reforms’ (CARPER). As it would easily pave the way the entry of foreign agro-corporations through its market-oriented land reform component and agrarian reform communities (ARCs). Moreover, CARP has a bloody record of displacing farmers of their lands and favoring landlords and foreign agro-corporations, thus, there is no contradiction between CARP and foreign ownership of land,” Ramos said.

“Though there is CARP for 20 years, foreign agro-corporations such as Del Monte, Dole and their subsidiaries have proliferated primarily in Mindanao. With 100% foreign ownership, we would expect more of this classic exploitative examples turning farmers into plain agricultural workers with low wages, could easily be displaced and with no right to their lands,” added Ramos.

Threat to sovereignty

“Also, 100% foreign ownership of land is not simply an issue of the peasants, and definitely not a business decision, this is creeping direct colonialism, threatens our sovereignty, as foreign countries would have material control of our lands and natural resources, disregarding the rights of Filipinos to their country,” added Ramos.

“We should take note that the minimum of 3 million hectares is already 10% of our country, that is why all of us should oppose this measure of the Arroyo government, various sectors, patriotic groups and forces, government officials, the church, professional, the workers, the youth, should totally protest this provision as this is a threat to the future of the next generations to come,” the peasant leader called.#

 

     
     
     
           
           
           
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PRESS RELEASE
June 27, 2009
REFERENCE:
ROY MORILLA, KMP Public Information Officer (63-905-421-7305)

Arroyo's selling of country's lands to fuel heightened agrarian dispute, group said

The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) warned that President Arroyo's move on selling lands to foreign countries would cause more agrarian dispute in the country. The Arroyo government has earlier pronounced that it is offering 3 million hectares to foreign agro-corporations which is demonstrated now by the president's non-stop visits to foreign countries such as Japan, South Korea, Brazil, U.S., Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Italy, U.A.E, Syria, Russia and more.

The said lands are reported to be surveyed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), National Commission on Indigenous People's (NCIP), National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Arroyo government has allocated 1 million hectares to San Miguel Kuok Food Security, Inc. (SMKFS), Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco's partnership with Malaysian firm Kuok group based in Hongkong, and another 1 million hectares to Fuhua Agricultural Science and Technology Development Co., Ltd. (Fuhua Co., a hybrid rice corporation) from China and 400,000 hectares or 0.4 million hectares to Agriculture Department of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (ADGZAR). On Arroyo's recent trip to Korea, she has offered 0.4 million hectares of land to Bio-Energy NL which is based in United Kingdom. The said lands already composed 1/10 (of the 30 million hectares) of our country and 20% (of the about 14.1 million hectares) of the total agricultural lands.

Moreover, the Arroyo has become a "broker" when it is concretely pushing with the lifting of the ban to 100% foreign ownership and Charter Change, coinciding with the demands of the European Union after it has granted €61 million(euros) or $90.22 million last year. Of this aid, €36 million would go to social services like healthcare, €12 million to Mindanao peace effort and €13 million to trade development.

"As a trickster as she is, Arroyo is pushing through with her auction of the country's lands to foreign countries and agro-corporations even without Chacha (charter change) or the lifting of ban to 100% foreign ownership of land," said Antonio Flores, KMP Spokesperson and Co-convenor of Tanggol Magsasaka.

"After pushing with the passage of CARPER (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with `Reforms') to deceive Filipino farmers, she is now focused in how to rake huge wealth from selling our country's lands," added Flores.

"In addition, she has formed the Investment Defense Force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines last year to `protect' the would-be foreign investments in agriculture, but in reality, this would be used to attack and displace farmers who are already cultivating their targetted lands. This would mean worsening of political repression to the peasants, more extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and `arrest and detention,'" the peasant leader shared.

"Arroyo and her lackey agriculture secretary Arthur Yap are total liars when they claim that these lands (3 million hectares) are idle, where in fact they are being cultivated by Filipino peasants. We need not go far, where in Sitio Paragawan, Montalban, Rizal, Rep. Iggy Arroyo is pushing with the jathropa project `blessed' by First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, though there are farmers cultivating upland rice and fruit trees, who are now being harassed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)," Flores said.

Also, the group said the entry of foreign agro-corporations would definitely transform peasants into helpless farmworkers such as the case of Dole and Del Monte in Mindanao, where those farmers' cooperatives who nominally own the lands could not manifest their ownership as the lands are under a leaseback agreement with the giant fruit companies. They are being subjected to low wages and unhealthy working conditions such as being exposed to deadly agro-chemicals used at plantations. Worse is being experience by those farmworkers at Dole and Del Monte's subsidiary as they depress wages to cope up with the underpricing of agricultural product enforced by the said companies.

"The agricultural workers in Mindanao went on strike in 1996 as they only receive P96 for a day's work, though they could produce more of the 3,000 boxes of banana quota per day. They were victorious in claiming that they own the said lands but unable to sell them, but they were crippled when the fruit giants prohibited them in using infrastructures such as roads. Naturally, the military and police terrorized them displacing their union leaders," Flores recalled.

"We are definitely sure that the miserable experience of agricultural workers in Mindanao would be replicated and worse if foreign agro-corporations would be allowed to fully own the lands in the country," added Flores.

Also, the group warned that if we allow foreign countries to own 1/10 of the country's lands, it would be the start of totally selling our country to foreigners.

"Nothing would be left for our future generations to enjoy and utilize. Arroyo would be the one to raise hell in the Philippines as we would be transformed into mere slaves in our own country," said Flores.
 

     
     
     
           
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