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Alex D. Lopez reported in Davao Today:
Members of peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Southern Mindanao Region (KMP-SMR) marched on the streets here on Tuesday in celebration of peasant month and urged the government to scrap the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARPER) and instead pass the genuine agrarian reform bill (GARB) that is still pending in Congress, and demand for the pull-out of military troops from the countryside.
Pedro Arnado, chairperson of KMP-SMR said small farmers in this region continue to suffer poverty, hunger and live in fear due to the unrelenting militarization in the countryside disguised as peace and development efforts of Aquino’s rule.
“Human sa tulo ka adlaw namong panagtigum sa mokabat 73 ka mga lider mag-uuma sa tibuok rehiyon nakita ang daghang kasong natala nga nakapasamot sa kalisud sa mga mag-uuma (After three days of gathering by 73 leaders from the region we found out a number of cases recorded that push farmers to severe poverty),” Arnado said during an interview with davaotoday.com.
Arnado was referring to the counter-insurgency measure, OPLAN Bayanihan being implemented by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the countryside.
In a press release the national democratic peasant organization, KMP, stated:
As landlessness, hunger, militarization, and rights abuses mark the plight of the Filipino farmers, we from local peoples organizations under the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP – Southern Mindanao) affirm our unwavering commitment to advance the struggle for genuine agrarian reform, food sovereignty, social justice, and national patrimony.
Despite its avowals of revitalizing the agricultural industry, the Aquino administration has no concrete policies that are being implemented to reverse the past administration’s economic and political mistakes. The Arroyo regime has put in place the mechanisms for the demise of the local agricultural industry, the dis-empowerment of the Filipino farmers, and the violations of their basic human rights.
Instead, the Aquino administration’s 20–year peace and development road-map, which identifies energy generation, “responsible” mining, aqua and marine culture, and infrastructure all foretell that this policy hence, is no different from the Arroyo administration’s creation of Mindanao as a super region.
Amidst this, the failure Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) which was extended for another 5 years under the Arroyo administration is ominous.
In the Davao Region for instance, where population of farmers would account for 60-70% of the total population, the DAR on the other hand has only distributed lands to as much as 140,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries.
70% of the “landed” farmers in Davao region till only about 2 hectares of land, whose yields are hardly able to sustain their basic needs for food. While generally, 7 out of 10 farmers do not own the land they till. 90% of the farmers in Lomundao, Marilog and Paquibato District in Davao City, for instance, who have been tilling the land for around 30 to 50 years have only been awarded stewardship rights and are now threatened to be displaced by mining, and massive land conversion due to a jathropa plantation and state-declared reservation area.
On top of these, we, farmers also suffer from the dehumanizing consequences of militarization patterned after the military counter insurgency plan Oplan Bantay Laya 2. In the 3rd Quarter of this year in Davao Region alone, two farmers from Paquibato District and one farmer from Mawab have been brutally slain.
Justice continues to evade the families of Farmers Association of Davao City (FADC) farmer leader Celso Pojas and of Ludinio Monzon, an anti-mining activist and a lumad farmer from Davao Oriental; both were slain by military agents in 2008 and 2009, respectively.
Hamletting of our communities where military reign with terror continues unabated despite the dangers that this military practice posed on the civilian populace. The military has indeed lost any sense of morality and respect of dignity as the rights women, men and youth are consistently violated.
In the very own backyard of President Noynoy, the Cojuangco’s hacienda where 7 Hacienda Luisita farmers have been massacred in 2004 , justice is dead. So goes in the rest of the country. So goes for the whole nation.
With this, the Filipino peasants affirm its continued militant struggle for land and the right to till. We avow to renew our strength at each time that the threats to our life and democratic rights are also intensified by this puppet, unjust and anti-people government.
We enjoin all Filipino farmers, the Filipino workers, and our fellow Filipinos to stand by our side as we continue the struggle for genuine land reform, social justice in defense of our patrimony against the ever sharpening attacks of US imperialism through its vassals of power in the bureaucracy and feudal system.