Farmers from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to intensify and defend land occupations amid Martial law

May 25, 2017

Dismantle haciendas, free land distribution now — KMP

By KMP

After the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, farmer leaders from Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) vowed to defy this militarist act by the Duterte government through intensification of its national campaign to advance genuine land reform and free land distribution.

“We strongly condemn the declaration of Martial Law and suspension of Writ of Habeas Corpus in Mindanao. We demand the immediate lifting of the Martial Law declaration.”

“The militarist path taken by the government will never address the root causes of the worsening social and economic turmoil, armed conflicts and unrest in the countryside,” says KMP chairperson Joseph Canlas.

Canlas said “the peasant masses will not back down in these dark times. More and more farmers will continue to assert and defend their democratic, civil and political rights even under Martial Law,” the KMP leader said in response to President Duterte’s statement that he will be as “as harsh” as Marcos in implementing Martial law.

“Surely, the attacks against farmers fighting for land will worsen. Landlords and their goons will be emboldened to employ state forces in suppressing collective actions to advance genuine land reform in the form of land occupation and cultivation. We will remain steadfast and vigilant,” says Canlas.

“Even during Marcos’ Martial Law, farmers never ceased in fighting for their democratic rights even at the cost of their lives and liberties.”

Defiance of Martial Law through struggles
The Filipino peasantry is strongly clamoring for a genuine land reform with free distribution of lands to farmers, dismantling of haciendas and land monopolies and an end to foreign ownership of lands. “We will express our defiance of the Martial Law declaration through our struggles.”

The KMP said more than 300 hectares of idle lands and grabbed lands are being cultivated by hundreds of landless farmers, agrarian reform beneficiaries and their families nationwide in response to KMP’s call for more organized land occupation and collective cultivation actions.

The land occupation campaign started way back before President Duterte’s remark encouraging people to ‘occupy oligarch lands’.

Some of the areas that were occupied and cultivated by farmers include the following:

• Sanggalang Estate in Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija covering 60 hectares, cultivated by 20 families who are holders of Emancipation Patents from the government.

• Hacienda Peralta in Barangays Pangpang and Guinlajon in Sorsogon City covering 49 hectares cultivated by 53 farmers.

• Barangay Lunen in Tupi, South Cotabato with 60 hectares out of the 125 hectares landgrabbed by a local landlord cultivated by 70 families.

• Naga City in Camarines Sur, a total of 10.25 hectares in four barangays covering Manubay and Gacis estates and land-use converted areas in BF Homes and Concepcion Grand, cultivated by 30 families and 14 farmers.

• Pontevedra, Negros Occidental covering 37 hectares cultivated by 17 agrarian reform beneficiaries with CLOAs.

• San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan 40 hectares in Marga Farms claimed by Dona Margarita Araneta-Sing of the Araneta clan cultivated by 60 farmers. Thirty (30) hectares in AIC and Crescent Park claimed by the Villar family cultivated by 20 farmers and 21 hectares claimed by Robes Landholding cultivated by 30 farmers. The said areas are classified as agricultural lands but are land grabbed by private real estates.

• Hacienda Roxas, Batangas, parts of the 7,000 hectares of sugar cane have been occupied by farmers.

• Hacienda Yulo, Laguna, give hectares are now planted with subsistence crops by farmers.

Apart from the said occupied lands is the 145-hectare land recently reclaimed by 159 farmers of MARBAI from Lapanday Foods Corp. and the 375-hectares in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac distributed to 111 farmer-beneficiaries by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) last April.

“The scope and coverage of areas with land occupation and collective cultivation campaigns is still very limited compared to the vast hectares of agricultural lands concentrated into haciendas and big landholdings and under the control of a few land-owning families and corporations,” Canlas said.

Fifth round of peace talks
“We are expecting intricacies and complications in the fifth round of peace talks especially with Duterte’s Martial Law declaration. We will not allow peace spoilers, especially the militarists in the Cabinet, to curtail our rights and our collective action for genuine land reform and other democratic rights,” the KMP leader said.

Based on government data, more than six million hectares of lands suitable for agriculture were exempted and excluded by previous government land reform programs. “These lands should be covered by a new agrarian reform program and the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) that is gaining ‘piece by piece development’ in terms of discussions on agrarian reform and rural development.

The NDFP and the GRP panels and reciprocal working committees on CASER are scheduled to meet on May 27 to June 1 in The Netherlands. ###