Absence of land reform in BBL to perpetuate feudal rule in Bangsamoro

May 25, 2015


Akbayan’s ‘Yes’ vote on BBL consistent with sham CARP – KMP

Pro-BBL lawmakers vote for the approval of the amendments on the proposed law. The panel eventually voted to approve the BBL.

Pro-BBL lawmakers vote for the approval of the amendments on the proposed law. The panel eventually voted to approve the BBL. Image from GMA News

The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today said that the absence of a land reform program in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will perpetuate feudal rule in the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

The KMP issued the statement in light of the reported plan of the House of Representatives to railroad the BBL’s passage in the plenary this week. Last week, voting 50-17 and one abstention the House’s ad hoc committee approved the BBL.

“The absence of a genuine land distribution program in the BBL will perpetuate feudal rule in the Bangsamoro. It betrays one of the real agenda of Malacanang to auction off vast agricultural lands of the Bangsamoro,” says KMP secretary general Antonio Flores noting that “foreign BBL brokers like the United States and Malaysia, among others, have openly expressed interests to set up palm oil plantations in the Bangsamoro lands.”

Flores also assailed Akbayan party-list representatives who voted in favour of the BBL as opportunist trapos (traditional politicians) and pseudo-progressives.

“Akbayan’s ‘Yes’ vote on the BBL that doesn’t address the Moro people’s landlessness is consistent with their stand on the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. It clearly betrays their trapo politics and that the self-proclaimed ‘agrarian reform champs’ are nothing but a farce,” Flores said adding: “The Filipino peasantry cannot trust these opportunist trapos to fight for farmers’ rights to the lands. They are as sham as the bogus CARP that they seek to resurrect.”

The KMP also assailed the Aquino government’s renewed push for the House of Representatives to enact House Bill 4296 or the proposed bill seeking to “extend the CARP for another two years.” But the peasant group said as the bill is “a mere extension law” and therefore cannot resurrect the CARP.

“The anti-peasant CARP buries farmers alive. It is a major political catastrophe worst than threats of earthquakes,” says Flores adding: “CARP is the main culprit in the widespread land-grabbing and massive displacement of farmers in the countryside.”

The KMP cited the agony of farmers of Barangay San Isidro, San Jose Del Monte, in the province of Bulacan who are facing threats of displacement due to alleged land-grabbing of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) despite being declared under CARP coverage.

In October 2014, the farmers in Barangay San Isidro received a letter from BSP Managing Director Augusto C. Lopez-Dee informing farmers that the BSP will conduct technical survey activities on a property located in Brgy. San Isidro, Norzagaray, Bulacan with Transfer of Certificates of Titles Nos. T-48694 to T-48702 with an aggregate area of more or less 700 hectares.

The KMP said that the lands being sought by the BSP to be surveyed in Barangay San Isidro, were originally being claimed by the Manila Brickworks Corp of the Puyat family and was sold to the Villar family-owned Capitol Bank (later Optimum Bank). In 1998, the said lands allegedly owned by the Manila Brickworks Corp. and Capitol Bank were mortgaged to the BSP. The old TCTs were cancelled and new nine (9) titles, Transfer of Certificates of Titles (TCT) Nos. T-48694 to T-48702, were issued to BSP.

“The Department of Agrarian Reform placed the lands under CARP in 1996 or two years before the highly illegal mortgage to the BSP. But only after a year, in 1997, the DAR immediately issued an order exempting our lands from coverage. This clearly shows how the CARP was used against farmers in order to strengthen the illegal and dubious claims of landlords,” Flores said.

The peasant leader said that in spite of the exemption order, the farmers were forced to pay land amortizations. In fact, many farmer-beneficiaries have fully or partially paid their amortization dues under the CARP.

“Last October 2014 the DAR Region 3 again used the CARP law itself and issued another order exempting the lands. Clearly, the DAR added insult to the injury by using an expired law against farmers,” he said.

The KMP said thousands of farmers are set to stage “peasants camp-out” in Congress next week against House Bill 4296 maintaining that “the sham CARP failed to break land monopoly” and that “CARP already expired in June 2014 and a mere extension bill cannot extend an expired law.”

“Instead of defending our legitimate rights to the lands, the landlord president and his pro-CARP allies are hell-bent in resurrecting the dead CARP which is the main culprit in the agony of farmers,” the KMP leader said adding: “The Filipino peasantry will confront the haciendero president and his pro-landlord allies’ maneuvers to resurrect the CARP from the dead.”###