The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today welcomed presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s gestures for peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) expressing “high hopes that the peace negotiations would forge a deal on genuine land reform.”
The KMP issued the statement after Duterte spokesman Peter Laviña said the presumptive president-elect would consider allowing exiled communist leaders to return for the talks, and review the status of political prisoners. Laviña suggested the new government would not be averse to releasing detained rebels so they could take part in the talks, and allow ailing ones get treatment outside of prison.
KMP secretary general Antonio Flores said “Duterte’s gesture to release political prisoners is a welcome development to peace.”
“We are keeping our fingers crossed that peace negotiations between the NDFP and the incoming Duterte regime would lead to the forging of an agreement on social and economic reforms that include genuine land reform,” Flores said.
Flores said that “farmers across the country are turning their hopes on the peace negotiations since the Duterte presidency’s eight-point economic agenda does not include genuine agrarian reform.”
Duterte’s transition team on Thursday, revealed his 8-point economic agenda for the Philippines. For farmers and agriculture, Duterte seeks to “pursue a genuine agricultural development strategy by providing support services to the small farmers to increase their productivity, improve their market access, and develop the agricultural value chain by forging partnership with agribusiness firms.”
But Flores said that “Duterte’s agenda in agriculture bears similarities with the Aquino regime’s neoliberal policy on agriculture, like Private-Public Partnership programs in agriculture that strengthened landlord monopoly of lands.”
“Agribusiness venture arrangements led to widespread landgrabbing in the countryside. The incoming president doesn’t need to go far. The whole island of Mindanao is a bastion of agribusiness plantations controlled by the likes of Del Monte and Dole,” says Flores who hails from Davao City.
Flores recalled that last February 3, in a candidates forum dubbed as “The Peasant Challenge 2016 and Beyond” in UP Diliman, in front of farmers of Hacienda Luisita, Araneta Estate in Bulacan, and small coconut farmers, Duterte assailed the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program as “a farce and total failure” and vowed that under his administration “no farmer will be displaced from their land” and that he will “return the coconut levy funds to small coconut farmers.”
“Genuine land reform is the only guarantee for farmers not to be displaced from their land while landlord monopoly and peasants landlessness is the biggest roadblock to genuine agricultural development,” Flores said. ###