Farmers dismayed over Duterte’s turnaround

February 7, 2016

Presidential bets’ dismissal of farmers’ demands shows 2016 polls a political circus


The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today expressed dismay over Davao City Mayor and presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to allow foreigners 70 percent ownership of lands.

The KMP issued the statement after reports quoted Duterte saying he would allow foreigners to lease lands renewable for 40 years or equivalent to a “lifetime” under a 70-30 ownership arrangement in favour of foreigners.

“Businessmen are interested to know if they can own lands here. Maybe for manufacturing, I can lease the land, and even for agricultural venture,” the mayor said on Wednesday night in front of business leaders.

KMP chairperson Rafael Mariano said “farmers are dismayed with Duterte’s quick turnaround” warning that “leasing lands to foreigners renewable for 40 years would be worse than the current law allowing foreigners to lease lands for 50 years renewable for another 25 years.”

“In less than 12 hours in the presence of big businessmen, Duterte retracted what he himself said in front of peasant leaders and advocates. That was quick,” Mariano said.

Last Wednesday afternoon, in front of peasant leaders and advocates in a forum dubbed as “Peasant Challenge 2016 and Beyond” at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, Duterte expressed openness to genuine land reform and criticized the total failure of the government sham agrarian reform program.

“Duterte’s 180-degree turn and other presidential wannabes dismissal of farmers’ demands clearly shows that the 2016 elections is a political circus with candidates taking the Filipino people in a roller coaster ride,” Mariano said.

“The peasantry will continue to challenge all candidates on the demand for genuine land reform, the return of the multi-billion coconut levy, and free irrigation, among others,” the KMP leader said and called on farmers to “intensify the struggle for genuine land reform.”

Last January 22, the 29th year of the infamous Mendiola Massacre, the KMP challenged three presidential frontrunners Vice-President Jejomar Binay, Senator Grace Poe, and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to distribute Hacienda Luisita owned by President Aquino’s family and Araneta Estate owned by the relatives of Mar Roxas.

“We are challenging the three presidential frontrunners, Binay, Poe, and Duterte, on the genuine distribution of Hacienda Luisita and other vast landholdings the Araneta Estate in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan and Rodriguez, Rizal owned by the relatives of Mar Roxas,” says Mariano.

Mariano said that “the failure of these presidential hopefuls to declare and implement the genuine distribution of Hacienda Luisita and other plantations makes them no different from the current haciendero government of Aquino.”

“The distribution of Hacienda Luisita and other vast haciendas remains as a litmus test to presidential wannabes,” the peasant leader stressed.

“We challenge them to reverse the DAR’s fake distribution scheme that was designed to displace the farm workers and divide their ranks,” says Mariano. ###