Change is in our hands; #DuterteSingilin: Farmers to mobilize thousands nationwide on SONA

July 14, 2017


Peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) announced that it will mobilize tens of thousands in a nationally-coordinated protest coinciding with the second State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte on July 24.

“We will make President Duterte accountable for his unfulfilled promises. We will continue to assert genuine land reform, free land distribution and the lifting of Martial Law.”

In preparation for Duterte’s 2nd SONA, KMP discussed in its 8th National Congress in Bicol region the series of ‘peasant offensives’ to dismantle haciendas and further advance genuine land reform. The Congress was attended by more than a thousand peasant leaders and farmers from 67 provinces and 15 regions.

Prior to Duterte’s SONA, farmers organizations will launch actions ranging from occupation of lands, protest camp-outs, barricades and Kadenang Magsasaka in towns, provinces and regions. “Farmers, fisherfolk and agricultural workers nationwide will link arms and demand genuine land reform,” said Antonio Flores, KMP secretary general. “Walang natupad sa mga ipinangako ni Pangulong Duterte. Kaya sa SONA patuloy na igigiit ng mga magsasaka ang aming mga panawagan at sisilingin si Duterte,” Flores added.

According to Flores, “farmers will realize the change that we want.”

“Duterte has failed the peasant sector. There is no genuine land reform. Land monopoly persists and vast tracts of lands remain in the control of a few landed families. Thousands of hectares of lands are devoted to foreign-owned plantations. It’s 2017 but haciendas still exist. The hacienda system perpetuates the landlessness and poverty of farmers,” said Bert Autor, chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bicol (KMB-KMP).”The Government of the Republic of the Philippines peace panel is all for show with regards to achieving a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). The GRP should show sincerity and seriousness in inking an agreement on much-needed socio-economic reforms.”

Dismantle haciendas
Across the country, farmers are launching land occupation campaigns in haciendas, disputed lands and abandoned lands. In Negros island, considered as the hacienda capital of the country, there are 4,303 ongoing land occupation campaigns carried out by farmers. In Bicol, farmers from Hacienda Peralta, Hacienda Manubay, Hacienda Bulaong, Hacienda Peralta, Isla Daegan and Hacienda Almeda are leading land occupation and cultivation campaigns to alleviate the state of farmers. “We demand the distribution of coco lands and the return of the P75-billion coco levy fund,” says Flores.

On July 23, KMP along with agricultural workers, fisherfolk, rural women and rural youth will present the State of the Peasant Address (SOPA) in a camp-out at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) central office in Manila. Similar actions will take place in Quezon, Cordillera, Ilocos, Negros, Panay, Cebu, Davao region, CARAGA, Northern Mindanao and Socksargends.

“While DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano is exerting serious efforts to address landlessness and many problems resulting from the bogus Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), President Duterte has not made any clear-cut policy on genuine land reform. Worse, farmers defending their lands are being killed. Under the Duterte administration, 66 farmers and peasant leaders were killed. On top of the military’s all-out-war against the people, Martial Law in Mindanao has intensified human rights violations, bombings and humanitarian crisis in rural areas,” said Joseph Canlas, chairperson of KMP.

The entire KMP congress delegation will protest in Legazpi City today to demand the return of the coco levy fund. ###