Rough Sailing Expected for Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill

The arenas of struggle

Mariano said that peasants in the countryside continue to achieve victories in their determined campaign for genuine agrarian reform. These include the lowering of land rent, asserting their right to remain in the land despite threats of eviction, increasing their share in the produce, increasing the wage of agricultural workers, among others.

He said many farmers decide to till the land even as the DAR’s hands are tied. He cited as an example the farm workers at the Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac. More than 1,000 hectares of land have been planted with rice and vegetables by the farmers themselves.

Even if the deliberations on HB 3059 have not yet started, the farmers have long been asserting their right to till the land, Mariano said. “The Congress must recognize this.”

“Ang kilos ng magsasaka hind nakabatay kung maipapasa ba ang HB 3059. Mali iyong akayin mo sila sa parliyamentaryong pakikibaka lang. Paglilingkurin mo dapat itong laban na ito sa praktika ng magsasaka. Kongkretong ekspresyon siya at alingawngaw ng kahilingan ng magsasaka,” (The movement of peasants for agrarian reform is not hinged on the passage of HB 3059. It is wrong to confine the peasants to the parliamentary struggle alone. The parliamentary struggle should serve the practical struggles of the peasants. Their struggles are an expression of their just demand.) he said.

Mariano said, referring to Malacañang’s allies in Congress, “Anong ikinatatakot ninyo may bilang nga kayo. Anong ikinakatakot ninyo, debate? Ito ang malaon nang hinihingi ng masang magsasaka. Eh di tingan natin kung tutugon doon o hindi.” (What are you afraid of when you have the numbers? Are you afraid of a debate? This has been a long-standing demand of peasants. Let us debate on whether this bill responds to this peasant demand.)

Mariano said the full-blown plenary debates would provide opportunity for farmers to voice out their demands. He said the farmers would see that the progressive party list representatives side with their class interest and that their interest is constantly undermined and opposed by the landlords in the House of Representatives. The debates, he said, would also expose the clear and sharp difference between the position of progressive party list representatives and that of Akbayan and the landlords.

Mariano said the landlords in Congress would attempt to water down the bill during the period of amendments. He said, “Anuman ang mangyari, magsasaka na ang huhusga.” (Whatever happens, it would be peasants who would decide.)

He said further, “The House of Representatives is the house of the people, that is what they say. Who are the people? The landlords? Patutunayan nila.(Let them prove it.)”

Anti-farmer bills

Mariano revealed that other members of the House of Representatives have filed ‘anti-farmer’ bills.

Mariano said these include House Resolution no. 737 authored by House Speaker Prospero Nograles. The resolution seeks to allow 100 percent foreign ownership of land.

The peasant leader also said Nograles and six other representatives filed a bill promoting corporate farming.

These proposals, Mariano said, fall within Malacañang’s proposal to allot two million hectares of land for agribusiness. He said China and Qatar are particularly interested in exploiting the country’s agricultural lands.

Mariano said that the Arroyo government is adamant in restructuring the agriculture sector to suit neoliberal globalization. “Food security is further undermined.”

Mariano called on the people to remain vigilant and to oppose the said bills. (

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