In Cagayan de Oro, Farmers Mark ‘Peasant Day’ with Cry for Land, Survival

PRESS RELEASE

October 21, 2009
For Immediate Release

Peasant Day Today
PEASANTS MARCH AMID HEAT OF THE SUN: CRY FOR LAND AND SURVIVAL

Cagayan de Oro City (October 21, 2009) — FARMERS coming from various municipalities in Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon are converging today at the Capitol grounds to start a protest march highlighting the Peasant Day today. It will proceed to the City Kiosk in Divisoria where it will hold a program.

Thirty seven years ago, then President Ferdinand Marcos signed Presidential Decree 27 that placed the nation under agrarian reform. But up to this day, 7 out of every 10 farmers all over the country are still landless–and worse hungry.

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The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Northern Mindanao, the vanguard organization of militant, progressive and genuine farmers organizations, leads the protest march in condemning the “newest” oppressive and anti-farmer land reform program of the State.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPer) or RA 9700 is the worst of all land reform program created since land reform became a part of government policy to address unrest in the peasantry.

Arroyo’s CARPer already gives away the right of the peasantry to land into the hands of the business elite and foreign monopoly capitalist. In its introductory note, CARPer tells the peasantry not to raise its hopes on agrarian reform because “there is not enough land for the benefiaries for agrarian reform”.

Further, land reform should promote the interest of agribusiness because it believes that this is the road to “national development”.

This same law exposes Arroyo’s principal agenda of selling our national patrimony and sovereignty to foreign capitalists as CARPer retains the exemptions and retention limit provisions exempting multinational corporations from land reform.

“The Investors Lease Act which allows foreign corporations 75 years to use and exploit our lands are given a new respite as Carper exempts them from the program while they are also regarded by the government as “partners to economic development and progress,” KMP-NMR secretary general Rudy Progella said.

“The law is like a dagger to the farmers who are now worse than ever in this time of economic crisis and tragedy wrought by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng,” Progella added.

CARPer is even worse in addressing the issue on women. Amihan, a nationwide federation of rural women under the umbrella of KMP, also lambasted Arroyo on her hypocrisy towards women “as CARPer declares that women don’t have the right to own land and become land reform beneficiaries.”

“This only shows that she (Arroyo) really is not interested in protecting the interest of the women, but only herself and her economic and political survival,” Virgie Colao, Amihan secretary general, said today.

“Daghan ng mga kaso nga nagdala sa interes sa kababayen-an apan si Arroyo wala jud ni bisan man lang mo”ek”!” (There are already several women issues that Arroyo failed to even say “ek”) Colao said citing the case of “Nicole” who was raped by a US soldier.

Today’s march is participated by various organizations from the fisherfolk, lumad, students, teachers, government workers, professionals and the church led by PATRIA (Pagkakaisa Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo).

The farmers will cap the activity with the reading of the unity statement renewing its call for the junking of CARPer and the passage into law of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or HB 3059 now pending in Congress.

Gerardo Pulgo, president of the Gingoog City United Farmers Association (GCUFA) said that though they may sound like a broken record, “nagatoo kami nga pinaagi lamang sa tiunay nga repormang agraryo nga libreng pag-apod apod sa yuta mamahimong adunay kalamboan ug kausaban sa among kahimtang. (We believe that it is only through genuine land reform and the free distributioin of land will we experience real change and development in our condition)”

Pulgo will speak on the rise in the number of cancellation of Certificate of Land Ownerships (CLOAs), Certificate of Land Titles (CLTs), Emancipation Patents (EPs) among members of GCUFA, as well as the charging of false criminal charges against its members and other farmers.

Pulgo also exposed that the cancellation is paving the way for the entry of companies planning to put up logging and mining concessions in the area. ###

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