Farmers join nationwide Labor Day rallies to demand free land distribution, living wage, jobs and social services

May 1, 2017

By KMP

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) will lead the peasant contingent joining and linking arms with workers in today’s Labor Day rallies nationwide.

“We are in unity with the workers and urban poor in demanding for social justice and an end to neoliberal policies that continue to exploit the people. We are encouraging workers to lead the rising mass movement for genuine agrarian reform that aims to dismantle land monopolies and the dominance of landlords, big business and foreign powers,” KMP secretary general Antonio Flores said.

“The combined strength of farmers asserting for land reform across the country and workers demanding for wages, jobs and social services can achieve more gains for the toiling masses,” the KMP leader said.

“We also laud the consistent determination of the urban poor demanding for free mass housing. Their militant assertion will inspire more people to join mass movements and organized actions to achieve genuine social change.”

“President Duterte should not dismiss the swelling demands and outrage of the people clamoring for change.”

KMP and other broad peasant and fisherfolk organizations will join the May 1 rallies led by Kilusang Mayo Uno and Kadamay in Liwasang Bonifacio and Mendiola.

Lapanday farmworkers appeal to Duterte for installation

Some 200 farmworkers of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Inc. (MARBAI) from Tagum, Davao del Norte have returned to Manila to seek assistance from President Rodrigo Duterte to effect their installation on the 149 hectares of farmland inside the Lapanday Foods Corp banana plantation.

An installation order was issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) last April 10 after the farmworkers launched a two-week camp out at DAR last month.

But the installation of farmworkers led by agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano last April 18 did not proceed due to the hard resistance of the Lorenzo family-owned Lapanday against the DAR’s order which was further aggravated by the PNP Region XI refusal to comply with DAR’s request to assist in the installation. Lapanday deployed more than 700 armed security guards and goons to block Mariano’s installation of the farmworker beneficiaries. DAR assumed jurisdiction over the property and rescheduled the installation of farmers on April 21 but it also did not proceed.

“We are compelled by our situation to seek assistance from President Rodrigo Duterte. The Lorenzos who owns Lapanday is an influential family in Davao region. We are hoping that the President could direct Lapanday to abide by the DAR order and give up the lands which righfully belongs to us,” said Mely Yu, president of MARBAI.

“We are challenging the government to make real its commitment to free land distribution. Actual land distribution includes the actual installation of farmers and the security of their tenurial rights,” said Flores.

MARBAI farmworkers have launched a series of mass actions to reclaim the 149 hectares of land awarded to them by the government in 1996 but was landgrabbed by Lapanday. The farmworkers were not able to utilize the lands for more than six years since 2009 when they decided not to renew the onerous agribusiness venture contract with Lapanday.

The farmworkers have been protesting Lapanday’s landgrabbing outside the plantation’s compound since June 3, 2016. Last December 9, they asserted their rights and entered the plantation but were met with violence by Lapanday guards whom opened fired at the protesting farmworkers. ###