Araneta Estate, Yulo King Ranch farmers set two day fast on Pope’s visit
Farmers to be displaced by state and corporate land-grabbing today announced to hold a two-day fasting on January 15 and 16 in time for Pope Francis’ visit next week in Manila expressing high hopes that the “Pope of the Poor” will hear the Filipino peasantry’s long neglected cry for genuine land reform.
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas chair Rafael Mariano said the farmers’ fasting “aims to deliver our message to the Pope that under the haciendero President, the State’s character as an instrument of land-grabbing strengthened.”
“The farmers’ fasting is not a protest against the Pope. It is our way of seeking the ears of the Pope and a medium to amplify the farmers’ cry for land, justice, and peace,” Mariano said.
The two-day fasting will be led by farmers affected by the P63-billion Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7), a Public-Private Partnership Project between the Aquino government and the Universal LRT Corp. (ULC) controlled by San Miguel Corp. chaired by Aquino’s uncle, Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr.
According to KMP, the MRT-7’s inter-modal depot, the real estate, and commercial development component will be built over productive agricultural lands in Barangay (village) Tungkong Mangga, San Jose Del Monte Bulacan allegedly being grabbed by Araneta Properties owned by Gregorio Araneta III, a relative of interior secretary Mar Roxas and the Universal LRT Corporation. Real estate giants such as SM Lands and Ayala Land reportedly expressed interests in the real estate and commercial component of the MRT-7 Project.
Also joining the fasting are farmers from Coron and Busuanga in Palawan occupying and cultivating 39,238.93 hectares of lands declared by the government, through Proclamation No. 1387, as pasture lands in 1975. The land is a subject of a long-running dispute between farmers and the Yulo King Ranch (YKR) Corporation owned by Luis Yulo and Peter Sabido, known cronies of Marcos who were able to usurp the lands during Martial Law.
In 2013, President Benigno Aquino III further strengthened the state’s land-grabbing by signing Presidential Proclamation 663 transferring the administration of the more than 39,000-hectare pasture reserve to the Forest Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“Pope Francis’ progressive stance on social issues, especially his rebuke of the capitalist order, is already for the poor. Adding his voice to the peasants’ cause is a big political and moral booster to farmers suffering injustice from the Aquino government that have long rejected the Filipino peasantry’s demand for land, justice, and peace,” Mariano said.###