“Filipino farmers will benefit the most from the ongoing peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDFP) because the land problem is among the roots of the armed conflict,” says KMP chairperson Joseph Canlas.
“It is in the best interest of the peasant masses if the peace talks arrive at substantial social and economic reforms, including an agreement on agrarian reform,” Canlas said citing that “the ongoing civil war in the Philippines is a peasant war.”
The second round of the formal talks will open today in Oslo, Norway with land reform and national industrialization as among the major agenda to be discussed by the GRP and NDFP panels.
“For the first time in 18 years, the land issue will be given utmost attention by both panels, especially the GRP which up until now, has not approved a new program on land reform. The centuries-old land problem, particularly the monopoly of land in the hands of a few remain as the single biggest stumbling block to the country’s economic development,” the KMP leader said.
Thousands of farmers from Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Ilocos and Cagayan provinces will troop to Manila to launch a Peasant Camp-out (Kampuhang Magsasaka) outside the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to support the progressive and pro-farmer policies of agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano.
“Those attacking Mariano’s efforts to implement significant reforms only want to preserve the current impoverished situation of farmers and backward state of agriculture,” Canlas said, referring to the National Economic Development Authority’s (NEDA) opposition to the 2-year land conversion moratorium approved by the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC).
The KMP leader said landgrabbing and land conversion remain among the major struggles faced by farmers, citing strong local actions in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, Hacienda Looc and Hacienda Yulo in Batangas, Araneta Estates in Bulacan, Hacienda Dolores and Clark Green City in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay and Gallego Estate in Nueva Ecija, Hacienda Roxas and Sta. Isabel in Isabela, among other struggles for land.
“We are hopeful that the peace talks negotiating panel will decisively agree on stopping landgrabs and land conversion and recognize farmers’ just demand for free land distribution,” Canlas said. ###