Poverty and hunger caused by CARPer,
landlessness, Negros and Southern Tagalog farmers say
10/16/2010 - 08:58.
Farmers from the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement
of the Philippines), KMP Negros and KASAMA-TK (KMP Southern Tagalog)
protested in front of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform office in Quezon City
corresponding the World Food Day observed globally. The peasant groups
dubbed it as World “Foodless” Day and put the blame of poverty and hunger
on massive landlessness and the implementation of the Comprehensive
Agrarian Reform Program Extension with “Reforms” or CARPer. The groups
were joined by other peasant groups such as Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid
sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), Tungkong Mangga farmers, Unyon ng mga
Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Pamalakaya-Pilipinas, Asian Peasant
Coalition (APC) and supporters from Anakpawis Partylist, International
League of Peoples’ Struggle-Philippines (ILPS) and NNARA-Youth.
“World Food Day in the Philippines is a World ‘Foodless’ Day’ as peasants
are still landless and they are continuously displaced as landlords and
landgrabbers make use of the anti-peasant provisions of CARPer,” said
Antonio Flores, KMP Spokesperson.
“We farmers from Negros are major victims of CARPer, landlords are using
it to criminalize agrarian cases, accusing our leaders and members of
various criminal charges,” KMP Negros spokesperson Greg Ratin said.
“CARPer on its more than 1 year of existence and 21 years of its
predecessor CARP has never served the farmers of Southern Tagalog. Worse,
it is a convenient tool of landlords to keep their lands and throw
peasants out of their farms,” Axel Pinpin said, KASAMA-TK
The groups cooked symbols of CARPer in front of the DAR office to show
that it has not worked for land reform and food security. They said that
it is not “edible” to farmers and pushed for the passage of House Bill 374
or Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB), sponsored by Anakpawis Rep. and
KMP Chair Rafael Mariano and Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Partylist,
Kabataan and ACT.
Instead of CARPer, KMP and the peasant groups are promoting their campaign
dubbed as “Bungkalan” (cultivation). It is an organized effort to
cultivate lands that remained idle and transformed it to highly productive
agricultural lands. Farmworkers from Hacienda Luisita and Negros were able
to implement that is now estimated to cover 2,000-hectares and
“Hacienda Luisita farmworkers under the leadership of AMBALA are able to
enjoy the fruits of their labor on land. Rice farms now reach 2,000-has.,
with hundreds more planted with fruits and vegetables. This is the Genuine
Land Reform we are pushing about, not the market-oriented, pro-landlord
schemes of CARPer,” Flores said.
“In Negros, we were able to cultivate the lands with the massive
participation of farmers who used to work on the vast sugarlands. As the
world market demand for Philippine sugar declined, mills closed down and
work opportunities for the sugar farmworkers became scarce. We have no
option but to cultivate those idle and make them productive. Now, even
those not under our organization are also cultivating lands. Landlords are
now retaliating by criminalizing agrarian cases,” Ratin said.
APC and ILPS also sent their messages of support and said that the
bungkalan campaign is just and historical. It is only now, after vast
lands were subjected to market-oriented sugar industry for decades, were
transformed to serve the people and break out of US imperialism.
“Those who support CARPer should learn from the rich experience of farmers
from Hacienda Luisita and Negros. CARPer is a misnomer, it does not serve
the interest of Filipino peasants, it is just a source of financial
opportunism of pseudo-peasant groups, a milking cow of landlords and an
instrument of foreign agro-corporations. It should be junked and GARB
should be passed in Congress,” said Flores.
Aquino’s denial of land reform
“Noynoy Aquino should contemplate as more and more farmers are protesting
here in Manila against his neglect of the land issue. He omitted it three
times on his inaugural and SONA speech and first 100-day report,” he
The groups then marched towards in front of the Dept. of Agriculture and
National Food Authority warehouse along Visayas avenue. They protested
against the continuing liberalization of agriculture and rice importation.
The farmers also vowed more and bigger protest actions against Aquino’s
anti-peasant programs and policies such as CARPer, his proposed
Public-Private Partnership Program and the continued extra-judicial
killings and arrests of peasant activists. On October 21, farmers from
Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, Hacienda Luisita, Ilocos and Cagayan
Valley regions would march towards Mendiola, Manila to call for land and
justice, junking of CARPer and Stock Distribution Option (SDO).
“Aquino should ready himself as thousands of farmers would be coming to
Manila. If he is not mentally prepared for it, he could get crazy,” Flores