On the 27th anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre:

Peasant groups lead march/rally calling for the ouster of BS Aquino


January 22, 2014





Photos by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)


Coinciding with the  27th year of injustice for Mendiola massacre victims, CL farmers call for Aquino’s ouster based on three key points
January 21, 2014

Central Luzon farmers belonging to the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (Amgl, Farmers’ Alliance in Central Luzon) and its affiliates, Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala, Farm workers Alliance in Central Luzon), Aguman Dareng Maglalautang Capampangan (Amc, Alliance of Kapampangan Farmers), Amgl – Nueva Ecija, Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Tarlak (Tarlac), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Pangasinan (KMP Pangasinan), Panlalawigang Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Aurora (Pamana – Aurora), Amgl – Bataan, Amgl – Zambales, Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulakan (Amb), Central Luzon Ayta Association and Anakpawis Party-list – Central Luzon chapter called for the ouster of president Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III (BS Aquino) during the two-legged protest-caravan in the region and Pampanga province. The Mendiola massacre took place when former president Cory Aquino’s forces opened fire to the farmers’ protest in Mendiola, demanding genuine land reform. Thirteen farmers were viciously killed, namely Danilo Arjona, Leopoldo Alonzo, Adelfa Aribe, Dionisio Bautista, Roberto Caylao, Vicente Campomanes, Ronilo Dumanico, Dante Evangelio, Angelito Gutierrez, Rodrigo Grampan, Bernabe Laquindanum, Sonny Boy Perez, and Roberto Yumul. The groups claimed that BS Aquino has betrayed the Central Luzon farmers, ignored their plight and worse, implemented policies and programs that are detrimental.

“We never met any poor farmer that claimed their lives got better under BS Aquino, instead, they faced problems primarily displacement and land grabbing. Commemorating the 27th year of injustice of Mendiola massacre, we demand justice for the victims and of Hacienda Luisita massacre, Lupao massacre and the killing of Hacienda Dolores farmer, Arman Padiño,” Joseph Canlas said, Amgl chairperson and Anakpawis Party-list regional coordinator.

The groups held their protest-carvan in two directions: in Nueva Ecija early morning, from Guimba public market in, to Aliaga town proper, crossing of Cabanatuan city, in Tarlac, Sta. Rosa – Tarlac city national highway intersection at brgy. San Manuel, Tarlac city near the Subic-Clark-Tarlac-Expressway (Sctex) and Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx), to Metro town mall junction, in front of the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) headquarters in brgy. San Miguel, both of the said city, then to Capas public market, following the protest at the Clark freeport main gate in brgy. Balibago in Angeles city around 3 in the afternoon; while the Pampanga leg, starting caravan around Hacienda Dolores in Porac town, then protest in front of the municipal hall, then around Angeles city and joining the protest in Clark. The farmers protest was supported by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) – Central Luzon, Workers’ Alliance in Region III (War 3), Anakbayan – Central Luzon and Kadamay – Pampanga and various groups in Angeles city.

The farmer groups boldly demanded the ouster of BS Aquino basing on three keypoints.


(1) The land reform issue in the region, claiming that BS Aquino has not effected fundamental reforms such as the distribution of lands to poor farmers, instead, promoted the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with “Reforms” (Carper).

• BS Aquino has also advanced the interests of rich landlords, such as his family, thus, sabotaging land distribution in Hacienda Luisita.

• The 2,000-hectare Hacienda Dolores in Porac town is now a site of agrarian dispute with Ayala Land and its dummy corporations incessantly harassed farmers whose ancestors have cultivated the lands since the Spanish colonial times. Last January 13, Ayala Land’s security forces killed a farmer, Arman Padiño and wounded Noel Tumali. Ayala Land plans to convert the lands into an estate similar to the Nuvali project in Sta. Rosa city, Laguna.

• In Nueva Ecija, the implementation of Carper has only threatened farmers who cultivated the lands, preserved the haciendas and the control of big landlords. Hacienda Gabaldon, Kilantang, Anggara in Guimba town, Rueda in Quezon town, De Santos in Guimba, Cuyapo and Nampicuan towns, Tinio in Talavera town, and estates Ilagan, Gonzales, Domingo, Sanggalang, Joson, Angeles, Padre Crisostomo Estate in many towns of the province remained intact and farmers are facing foreclosure cases and cancellation of certificate of land ownership awards (cloa), certificate of land transfer (clt) and emancipation patents (ep).

• In Casiguran town, Aurora, 13,000-hectares of land were covered by the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (Apeco) project masterminded by the Angaras. Thousands of farmers, indigenous peoples and residents are affected but BS Aquino has promoted the project.

• In Bayambang town, BS Aquino’s related firm, the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Realty Corp. (CAT Realty) is grabbing about 400-hectares of land and displacing farmers whose predecessors lived before the American colonial times.

• In San Miguel town, Bulacan, about 375-hectares of land are being grabbed former Camarines Sur representative Luis Villafuerte. Villafuerte through his daughter’s Green Eart Heritage Foundation plans to convert the area into an eco-tourism zone.

• In Pampanga, Bulacan and Bataan provinces, farmers are common victims of land grabbing and displacement where their lands are being subjected to land use conversion while in Zambales, farmers and Ayta communities were displaced by mining operations.

(2) The second point the groups stressed that BS Aquino hopeless on the protection of human rights. Instead of learning from the brutal and bloody effects of Operational Plan (Oplan) Bantay Laya of the corrupt Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration, BS Aquino implemented Oplan Bayanihan (OpBay) which is no different from its preceeding program. The groups said that extra-judicial killings (ejk), harassment and filing of trumped up charges are the main ingredients of OpBay. It is based from the United States Counter-insurgency (coin) guide, implementing triad operations such as combat, intelligence and civic-military operations.

Oplan Bayanihan resulted the killings of Pascual Guevarra, peasant leader opposing land grabbing and displacement in Fort Magsaysay military reservation, Laur town, Nueva Ecija; Rolando Villarosa, peasant leader in Cabanatuan city, Nueva Ecija; Arman Maximino, peasant leader in Dinalungan town, Aurora, Boyet Ibarra of San Jose town, Tarlac; Dennis Dela Cruz, farm worker of Hacienda Luisita. Supporters of farmers were also killed such as the Dutch dev’t worker Willem Geertman of Alay Bayan; Bayan Muna leader Waldo Palispis of Maria Aurora town, Aurora; transport leader Felicino Infante of Angeles city and urban poor youth John Khali Lagrimas of Tarlac city.

Harassment, intimidation and threat are usual attacks against farmers in the region such as occured to Ernesto Bubod, Igorot leader and Fernando Salazar, peasant leader, both of Carranglan town; Florention Pagatpatan, Jr., peasant leader in Guimba town in Nueva Ecija; Rodolfo Sambajon, fishefolk leader in Bataan and former chairperson of Pamalakaya – Pilipinas; farmers of Hacienda Luisita; and Hacienda Dolores; and farmers of former Camp Gregg military reservation in Bayambang town, Pangasinan; and farmers who opposed the Tplex project in Tarlac city and land grabbing in La Paz town, Tarlac. Farmers are typical victims of trumped up charges putting them to jail illegally and their basic rights violated. Government forces such as the police and military are the main perpetrators as they serve as private security forces of big landlords and businesses.

(3) The groups put BS Aquino’s puppetry to US imperialism such as the implementation of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program or government projects that violate farmers’ rights to land. The government plan W-Growth Corridor as part of the Medium-Term Philippine Dev’t Plan (Mtpdp) advised by the World Bank – Int’l Monetary Fund (WB-IMF) for the region is bound to displace farmers from lands targeted for conversion. It is pinpointed by eco-zones and industrial hubs in the region namely, Masinloc Eco Zone (Zambales), Subic Bay Special Economic Zone and Freeport (Zambales), Bataan Technology Park in Morong, Bataan Export Processing Zone in Mariveles, Clark Special Eco Zone, Hacienda Luisita Eco Zone, Hermosa (Bataan) Eco Zone, Magalang (Pampanga) MADCI, Philippine Jewelry Center in Meycauayan, Bulacan, Gapan, Cabanatuan city and Science city of Muñoz in Nueva Ecija, then towards Baler and Dingalan freeport in Aurora. This plan is precursored by the Metro-Luzon Urban Beltway (Mlub) composed by the privatization of the North Luzon Expressway (Nlex), construction of Sctex, Tplex, Central Luzon Expressway (Clex) and North Luzon East Expressway (Nlex east). The construction of superhighways are converting and planning to convert about 1,222.6-hectares, Tplex has covered about 442.6-hectares, while Clex and Nlex East are planning to convert about 780-hectares.

The expansion of Clark freeport zone and planned Clark Green City – Clark Highlands are threatening farmers in Pampanga and Tarlac. Farmers and Ayta around Clark freeport zone were victims of land grabbing and harassment such as the case of farmers belonging to the CABCOM Multi-Purpose Cooperative and Ayta farmers of Sitio Target of brgy. Sapang Bato and brgy. Margot in Angeles city. While Clark Green City plans to cover 36,000-hectares in Capas and Bamban town in Tarlac while Clark Highlands about 11,000-hectares in Sacobia valley in Mabalacat city, Pampanga. The groups said that these projects are believed to displace tens of thousands of farmers and Ayta.

As BS Aquino allowed the expanding Balikatan military exercises as part of the Visiting Forces Agreement, these only worsened the displacement of farmers from the lands covered such as Fort Magsaysay military reservation in Nueva Ecija, Crow Valley Gunnery and Firing Range, Camp O’ Donnell military reservation both in Capas, Tarlac, Clark freeport zone, Subic Bay freeport zone and US Naval Communication Station in brgy. San Miguel, San Antonio town in Zambales. It is becoming a standard operating procedure to bar farmers from cultivating their lands and fisherfolk from the seas during these exercises, while, in Capas, Ayta communities were displaced from their farms.

The groups also cited the submission to World Trade Organization (WTO) and liberalization of agriculture as major causes of bankruptcies of farmers’ livelihood. Imported and smuggled onions entering the Dingalan port in Aurora and being stocked in Nueva Ecija are putting the Bongabon onion farmers to debt and poverty. In addition, the swelling rice imports have continued to depress farm gate prices of palay while the introduction of hybrid rice and genetically-modified organisms (gmo) such as golden rice are threatening traditional varieties causing farmers high cost of production, consequently debt and landlessness.

“These three points are majorly confronted by the farmers in the region. These are all public knowledge but are yet to be dissented against entirely, thus, we farmers, the majority in the region are starting off to wave the flag for BS Aquino’s ouster. The farmers are losing the lands their fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers have nurtured for many decades, while other sectors are facing high prices of basic commodities, endless oil price hikes, costly rent, electricity and water rates, tuition fees for your children’s education, high taxes, unemployment, low wages, demolitions and many more. BS Aquino has proven his standpoint and it is clear that he is partial to the interests of big landlords, rich local and foreign business and US imperialism. We have nothing to hope from BS Aquino, thus, we must demand his removal from office and we are doing justice for the victims of Mendiola massacre and other human rights abuses,” Canlas ended. #




On the 27th year of the Mendiola Massacre

Today we mark the 27th year of the Mendiola Massacre by marching to Mendiola as part of the continuing struggle for land reform. We continue to call for justice for the 13 farmers who died in the massacre, and for agrarian reform advocates who were killed by landlords or by the government subservient to landlords.

The country marks the 27th year of the Mendiola Massacre three years into Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s term. It is by now clear that the pangulong haciendero will not act to give farmers land and justice. Worse, it is clear by now that he continues the utter disregard for Filipinos’ lives that was exhibited in the Mendiola Massacre.

It has been more than a year since the Supreme Court ordered the distribution of Hacienda Luisita’s lands to farm workers but they remain landless. The Cojuangco-Aquinos have been circumventing the SC decision in the guise of implementing it. The farm workers who dare plant food crops in the sugarcane plantation are facing repression.

The country is about to mark the 10th anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre on November 16 but justice remains elusive for the seven farm workers who died fighting for higher wages and land reform. Aquino himself was responsible for the massacre and is now responsible for denying justice to the victims.

Last Jan. 13, three farmers in Hacienda Dolores in Pampanga were fired at by security forces of real estate companies led by Ayala Land. The companies are evicting the farmers in order to set up a resort. Arman Padino, 33, died of gunshot wounds while father and son Noel and Raymond Tumali were wounded.

Aquino’s disregard for lives is shown in his anti-poor policies, which mean a slow death for millions of Filipinos. The pork barrel system which Aquino defends actually denies Filipinos a decent life and enriches the forces of death in society. Aquino is to blame for the death of thousands when supertyphoon Yolanda hit the country.

Aquino exhibits his refusal to implement genuine land reform and other important reforms in his stubborn refusal to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. He demands the outright surrender of the NDFP and ignores the latter’s proposals for socio-economic reforms for the people.

Reference Person: Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general
Contact information: 0928-7215313




22 January 2013

For Reference: REP LUZVIMINDA C. ILAGAN 0920-9213221
REP EMMI A. DE JESUS 0917-3221203
Jang Monte 0917-4049119 / Joan Cordero 0926-5809819 (Public
Information Officer)


“Year after year as hunger worsens, we are reminded of the Aquino
government's failure to achieve food and rice self sufficiency and we
are reminded of its failure, if not its utter lack of intent to
implement genuine land reform.”

Thus said Gabriela Women's Party Representative Luzviminda Ilagan as
members of the partylist group joined today's protests to commemorate
the 26th year of the Mendiola Massacre.

“Filipno farmers have long been fighting for genuine agrarian reform
yet the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of then President
Corazon Aquino down to its current extended version, CARPER have all
failed to distribute lands. On the contrary, both programs have served
only to further consolidate land ownership to a few families including
the Cojuangco-Aquinos. This is evident in the delay of land
distribution and the harassment and persecution of peasant families in
the Cojuangco owned Hacienda Luisita,” Ilagan deplored.

The Gabriela solon said this refusal to distribute land to poor
peasant families have resulted to widespread hunger and the
government's failure to achieve food self sufficiency. Surveys
conducted in the recent months reveal that the number of Filipino
families expriencing hunger have ballooned to over 5M.

“Ang Pilipinas, naturingang bansang agrikultural pero kung sino ang
siyang nagtatanim ay siya ring walang makain. Families including those
in rural and agricultural communities are going hungry and we remain
among the largest importers of rice. Despite the illusions being
peddled by the Department of Agriculture we are nowhere near our food
and rice self-sufficency targets.”

DA Secretary Proceso Alcala earlier pegged the country's goal at
producing 13.03 million tons of milled rice in 2013. The same targets
has been reset late last year as government blamed the onslaught of
typhoons for its failed food self sufficiency program. To date, the
Philippines remains one of the biggest rice importers not because it
wants to meet the country's needs for rice, but because it would like
to meet the country's commitment to the World Trade Organization.
Ilagan also explained genuine land reform is vital and necessary in
order for the Philippines to achieve rice and food self sufficiency.

“You cannot claim food self sufficiency when those who till the land
are going hungry. Farmers must be given the right to own the land they
till, away from the clutches of big landowners like the Cojuangcos and
big agricultural multinationals who resort to land coversion and opt
for the production of cash crops instead of crops that will guarantee
our country's food self sufficiency like rice or corn,” Ilagan ended.



Pahayag ng UP Kilos Na sa ika-27 taon ng Mendiola Massacre
January 20, 2014 at 10:18pm

Pahayag ng UP KILOS NA
Sa ika-27 taon ng Mendiola Massacre
Enero 22, 2014

Ngayong Enero 22, 2014, gugunitain ang ika-27 taon ng Mendiola Massacre na nangyari sa panahon ng panunungkulan ni Corazon Cojuangco Aquino bilang Pangulo. Dahas ang kanyang naging tugon sa kahilingan para sa tunay na reporma sa lupa ng mga magsasakang tumungo ng Mendiola. Labingtatlong magsasaka ang pinaslang na hanggang sa ngayo’y hindi pa rin nabibigyan ng hustisya.

Ang karahasang dinanas ng mga magsasaka noong 1987 sa Mendiola ay hindi nag-umpisa at hindi rin nagtapos doon. Kinakatawan ni Kabesang Tales at ang kanyang pamilya, mga tauhan sa aklat ni Jose Rizal na El Filibusterismo, ang masang magsasaka na matapos hawanin at pagyamanin ang lupang agrikultural ay magiging biktima ng pangangamkam ng lupa at/o pagbabayad ng mataas na buwis sa lupa mula pa sa panahon ng kolonyalismong Espanyol. Magpapatuloy ang walang hinting pang-aagaw ng lupa ng mga asenderong dayuhan at lokal kahit noong panahon ng kolonyalismong Amerikano at hanggang sa kasalukuyan.

Ngayong 2014, halos 27 taon pagkatapos ng masaker ng mga magsasaka sa Mendiola, mas lumala pa ang mga karahasang nararanasan ng mga magsasaka at manggagawang bukid. Sa mismong Hacienda Luisita na pag-aari ng pamilya Cojuangco-Aquino kung saan minasaker ang mga manggagawang bukid noong 2006, halos araw-araw dinadahas ng mga security guards ng Cojuangco-Aquino ang mga magsasakang naggiit sa karapatan nila sa lupa.Testigo mismo ang mga mag-aaral, mga kawani at mga guro ng UP sa ginawang pahirap at panunupil sa mga kapatid nating magsasaka sa Hda Luisita sa ilang beses na pakikipag-aralan natin sa samahan ng mga magsasaka ng asyenda.

Ayon sa Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon:

Bumabaha ang datos ng suliraning agraryo sa rehiyon at pagpapalayas sa mga magsasaka. Sa kabila nito, ang rehimeng US-Aquino ay nananatili sa pagpapatupad ng mga kontra-magsasakang programa. Patuloy na pinalalala ni Aquino ang kalagayan ng mga magsasaka at mamamayan sa rehiyon sa pagsusulong ng programang Public-Private Partnership (PPP), pagmimina, Oplan Bayanihan at iba pa. Ang mga programang ito ay pawang para sa interes ng imperyalismong US, mga malalaking lokal at dayuhang mamumuhunan at panginoong maylupa. Danas ng masang magsasaka, gayundin ng iba’t ibang sektor ng mamamayan ang kapahamakang dulot ng mga programa’t patakaran ni Aquino, kung
kaya, marapat lamang na magkaisa ang mamamayan at sama-samang kumilos bilang pagtatangol ng mga batayang karapatan sa lupa at kabuhayan. (Tingnan ang larawan ng pahayag)

Naniniwala ang UP Kilos Na na hangga’t hindi naisasakatuparan ang tunay na reporma sa lupa, nananatiling nakatali ang bansa sa urong na pag-unlad na yumuyukod sa neoliberal na mga polisiyang isinasakatuparan ng kasalukuyang rehimen ni Benigno S. Aquino. Malawak na lupain sa bansa ang patuloy na napapailalim sa sistemang land conversion upang bigyang-daan ang paglikha ng mga produktong tumutugon sa pandaigdigang merkado. Hindi lamang ang pagkasira ng lupa ang nagiging epekto nito, kundi ang mismong malawakang dislokasyon ng mga magsasakang napilitang iwan ang lupang dating binubungkal dahil sa nakaambang pagmamalupit ng mga militar at pribadong army ng mga mayayamang pamilya. Ang Oplan Bayanihan ng rehimeng Aquino ang pangunahing galamay nito upang supilin ang militante at progresibong pagkilos ng mga magsasaka at manggagawang bukid na nakikipagkapit-bisig sa mga sektor ng kabataan, kababaihan, mga propesyunal at maralitang mga tagalunsod. Ang mga magsasaka at mga manggagawang bukid ang pangunahing biktima ng pandarahas sa ilalim ng Oplan Bayanihan.

Ngayon, higit kailanman, ang militante at progresibong pagkilos ng mga magsasaka, mga manggagawang bukid sa kanayunan at mga manggagawa sa kalunsuran ang matibay na pundasyon ng kilusang masa. Sa pamamagitan ng patuloy na pakikipagkaisa ng mga nasa iba’t- ibang sektor, tulad ng mga nasa hanay ng edukasyon ng binubuo ng mga estudyante, mga kawani at mga gurong makabayan, naipagpapatuloy ang panawagang baguhin ang lipunan at isulong ang pambansang industriyalisasyon na wawasak sa lumang pyudalismong patuloy na pinananatili ng mga lokal na naghaharing-uri at mga panginoong maylupa sa bansa.

Tunay na reporma sa lupa, ipagaban!
Biguin ang Oplan Bayanihan ng rehimeng US-Aquino!
Hustisya sa mga biktima ng Mendiola Massacre!
Hustisya sa mga biktima ng Hacienda Luisita Massacre!
Imperyalismo, ibagsak!
Ipaglaban ang pambansang kalayaan at demokrasya!




Anakbayan on 27th year of Mendiola Massacre: more abuses against still-landless farmers under the 2nd Aquino
by ANAKBAYAN on Jan 22, 2014 • 11:55 am

The youth group Anakbayan joined peasant groups in a march to historic Mendiola Bridge in Manila today to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the infamous Mendiola Massacre. The group said that the conditions of Filipino farmers have remain virtually unchanged, 27 years after.

“27 years after, the same structural inequalities that gave rise to the Mendiola Massacre remain today: the concentration of political, economic, and military power in the hands of a few landlords, and the utter lack of justice for the majority of Filipinos” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of the youth group Anakbayan in a rally at Mendiola Bridge in Manila today.

Members of the group joined protesting farmers from the Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog regions, in the march from the Dept. of Agrarian Reform in Quezon City to Mendiola Bridge in Manila, as part of the 27th commemoration of the Mendiola Massacre 13 farmers were killed after elements of the AFP and PNP opened fire on a pro-land reform rally.

The youth leader denounced the lack of justice for the victims of the massacre, as until today, not a single member of both the AFP and PNP have been brought to court.

Crisostomo meanwhile cited as the continuing lack of improvement in the lives of farmers under the second Aquino administration two recent cases of anti-peasant violence: that in the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, and Hacienda Dolores in nearby Pampanga.

In Hacienda Luisita, around 400 hectares of farmland have not been distributed by the Cojuangcos. Instead, their corporation, the Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) is claiming the land and has sent a combination of private security guards, police, and Army soldiers to drive away the farmers. Aside from bulldozing the crops of the peasants, TADECO has begun the fencing-off of the 400 hectares. Criminal charges were also filed against the farmers.

Meanwhile, in the 700-hectare Hacienda Dolores, a consortium of private groups including Ayala Land is claiming a large part of the estate. Security guards opened fire and killed a farmer last January 13, while criminal charges were filed against community leaders who went to the aid of the slain person.




CEGP commemorates the 27th anniversary of Mendiola Massacre
22 January 2014 |

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines is in solidarity with the country’s farmers as another year passes with neither land nor justice for the victims of the Mendiola Massacre or their families – and those for whom they fought and died.

26 years ago, on January 22, 1987, twenty thousand protesters from various militant groups marched to Mendiola to call for genuine agrarian reform from the administration of then president Corazon Aquino. Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, the militant farmers’ group, led the march of Hacienda Luisita farmers from Quezon City Memorial Circle to Malacanan Palace after days of camping in Department of Agrarian Reform and a day after an unsatisfactory negotiation with then Agrarian Reform chief Heherson Alvarez. But by the time the throng of marchers reached the bridge, they were barricaded by the anti-riot forces and tension between the two erupted. Soon guns opened fire to the direction of the marchers. Horror ensued as bullets hit workers, farmers, students and media people. Thirteen farmers were killed instantly and 80 others wounded.

The Massacre echoes a familiar narrative in our people’s struggle for their basic rights: the farmers came with legitimate demands, but were met with ruthless violence for their efforts.

More than two decades later, not a single individual has been held to account for the killings. After 26 years the government’s land redistribution efforts fall far short of its promises, even as its much-vaunted Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program reaches its deadline this year. Tens of thousands of hectares of land are still in the hands of the country’s elite – including the relatives of President Aquino, the Cojuangcos, who have in fact consolidated their control over more than 6,000 hectares of land in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac.

The Guild stands united with the series of demonstrations on the commemoration of the Mendiola Massacre. Until those responsible behind the Massacre are put behind bars, protests across the country will continue, as we denounce the government suppression of progressive calls to transform its rotten justice system. The Guild encourages youth organizations, students and campus publications to join our campaigns for an end to impunity and genuine agrarian reform.###





The current “sugar bills” in the Senate represent not only a flawed framework in the attempt to cushion the sugar industry from the ill effects of the worldwide lowering of tariff rates on imported sugar by 2015, but also
the government's complete lack of will to challenge the very evil that has made such scenario imminent: liberalization in agriculture.

Legislators are calling for the strengthening of the sugar cane industry by establishing a so-called Sugar Industry Development Fund/Sugar Industry Research and Stabilization Fund. There are also proposals to set up
Special Economic Zones (SEZ), promote block farming, and finance socio-economic programs in addition to those in the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

In all these, however, the Unyon ng mga Buhay Manggagawa
sa Agrikultura (UMA) sees not a single concrete provision on how to improve the conditions of the sugar farm workers. Designed basically to benefit only the big planters and millers, these grand plans fall short of and even undermine the need to protect the already ailing sugar industry from the intensifying onslaught of trade liberalization.

Only through the repudiation of unequal neoliberal trade and economic treaties, such as the GATT-WTO and the Asean Free Trade Agreement (AFTA), and the implementation of genuine land reform can the crisis in the
sugar industry and in the whole sector of agriculture can decisively be resolved.

On the other hand, if the Legislature cannot as of yet be relied upon to pursue the aforementioned solutions, it should at least try to look into the alleged cases of corruption by way of irregularly hefty bonuses of executives in the Sugar Regulatory Authority (SRA), or into the reported anomalies in the implementation of the SAP. It is very timely as well for the Senate to probe the extent of sugar smuggling in the country and set up ways to preempt its escalation especially come 2015 when sugar tariffs for imported sugar, as dictated by rapacious global neoliberal policies, finally becomes zero rated.
SRA and Other Gov’t Agencies Agree to Liberalization
Despite Imminent Collapse of Sugar Industry

In a Senate hearing on the sugar industry yesterday, different government offices such as the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) agree that the Philippines should comply with the 5% reduction of tariffs on imported sugar by 2015 as stipulated in the Asean Free Trade Agreement (AFTA). This is despite the threat of the collapse of the sugar industry due to the projected alarming increase in sugar importation, including its by-product bio-ethanol.

A most recent report by the US Department of Agriculture’s Global Agriculture Information Network (GAIN) foresees significant imports from ASEAN partners by 2015 when tariffs drop to 5 percent as specified in the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA). It also reported that countries that are covered by regional Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s) with the Philippines have dominated ethanol imports in recent years.

The reasons given by GAIN are low productivity of sugar cane crops and the high costs of production. Thus the lowering of tariffs by 2015 will worsen the situation.

Unofficial imports of sugar by the Philippines from Thailand already reach 150-200,000 metric tons annually, while ethanol imports totaled 741.86 million liters from 2007 – 2012, while local production was only 54.3 million liters during that period. Local ethanol is primarily made from sugar cane.

Yet the Philippine government fully supports liberalization of the sugar industry through AFTA while the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) is pushing for more funding to develop the sugar industry and setting up of sugar block farms.

Before government plans to pour in more funds to support the sugar industry, the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura and federations such as SUGAR-BATANGAS demand the immediate investigation of sugar smuggling and the alleged corruption and misuse of public funds, such as bonuses for executives of the Sugar Regulatory Authority (SRA), anomalies in the Social Amelioration Program (SAP), and pro-landlord support services such as the “block farming scheme” under the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the flawed Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and CARPER.

In 2012, the SRA had a net income of P81,971,800 out of a total income of P409,321,690. The Commission on Audit (COA) even chided it for granting performance based bonus in the amount of P8.179 million for its officers and employees in 2012 even without authority from the Governance Commission for GOCC’s. So why would it need to have more funding.

On the other hand, research on sugar cane production is already being undertaken by the Philippine Sugar Research Institute Foundation (PHILSURIN). Although it is a private sector initiative, majority of its funding comes from the P2.00 per 50 kilo bag sugar contributions from all sugar producers as contained in Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Sugar Order No. 2, series of 1995.

In promoting block farming, the SRA also blames low profitability of sugar farming because of land reform have fragmented farms into smaller lots. At the same time the SRA admits that small farms have lower productivity because they have no financial capability in procuring the necessary farm inputs and there is lack of infrastructure support from government.

But more importantly, small farmers would lose control of their lands as they would be hired merely as farmhands at the mercy of financiers. This scenario is already happening in Hacienda Luisita where farm worker beneficiaries are forced to rent out their lands to financiers who use their Lot Application Certificates (LAC) or Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA) issued to them by the Department of Agrarian Reform as collateral.

The government can protect the sugar industry only by resisting AFTA, GATT-WTO, and other unequal neoliberal trade agreements, enacting the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB), and embarking on national industrialization. Without these decisive measures, the government can expect the imminent collapse of the Philippine sugar industry by 2015 which will cause thousands of small planters to go bankrupt, and thousands more sugar workers to lose jobs.