MEDIA RELEASE ILPS-Philippines
14 October 2018
MANILA — As more Filipinos have less to eat and means to live, with their fundamental right to life brutally attacked by a tyrannical regime, global activists affirm their solidarity with the life-and-death struggle of peasants, farm workers, fisher folk and the rural poor in the Philippines.
There are 160 farmer victims of extra-judicial killings in the country, among them 23 women, six children, seven farmer couples and 22 elderly. Australian missionary Sr. Pat Fox, who has spent decades working with the rural poor, was ordered deported by the Philippine government and her visa not renewed.
Protest actions against neoliberal policies and militarist attacks are set for World Rural Women’s Day on October 15 and World Food Day on October 16. Activities will culminate in a nationally-coordinated day of action on October 19 led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), an affiliate of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Philippines Chapter (ILPS-Phils).
“The Duterte governments’ desperate measure to ease inflation through Administrative Order 13 removing non-tariff barriers and streamlining procedures on the importation of agricultural products would only worsen the country’s food problem. This is attested to by farmers and established food experts internationally,” ILPS-Phils Chair Bong Labog said.
Labor refers to the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), with 15 million members representing 42 organizations from 10 countries in Asia, and the global network People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS).
Removal of non-tariff barriers has not stabilized rice prices. The country has imported an average of 1.3 million MT from 1995-2015 under neoliberal policies espoused by the IMF-WB-WTO and implemented by the country’s economic managers. As a result, rice prices have risen 300 percent in three decades.
Compounding the problem more recently is the runaway inflation brought about by new taxes under the TRAIN Law and the latest oil price hikes. Food inflation climbed to 9.7% last month with all food groups registering higher prices.
More fundamentally, Duterte never replaced the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program which expired in June 2014 and has never broken the land monopoly of large haciendas and plantations with the free distribution of farmland to tillers.
The government’s own Department of Agrarian Reform is even looking at the conversion of more than 80,000 hectares of land in Central Visayas, Palawan, CARAGA, Northern Mindanao, Western Mindanao and ARMM for the expansion of oil palm plantations.
About 54,000 hectares in Mindanao are already devoted to “Agribusiness Venture Arrangements” in large plantations of banana, pineapple, cacao, rubber and oil palm for export. Workers in the banana plantation Sumifru are currently on strike.
Foreign investments and loans for Duterte’s Build, Build, Build program also exacerbated widescale land grabs and land conversions.
This covered more than 57,000 hectares of productive agricultural lands in Central Luzon including the 9,450 hectares New Clark Green City in Tarlac.
Another 20,000 hectares of ancestral lands in Quezon and Rizal is targeted for a foreign-funded mega dam and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority is eyeing to transform 8,000 hectares of mining lands into a so-called “ecozone” in Compostela Valley.