“Two years of the Duterte regime is two years of non-agrarian reform agenda, as it has yet to pass a new law to replace the expired and failed CARP.”
By RUTH LUMIBAO
MANILA — After 30 years of endless promises, genuine agrarian reform remains distant — aggravated by the continuous red-tagging, murder, and harassment because of their determination to fight for their rights.
Since the beginning President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, at least 150 farmers have been murdered because of the counterinsurgency program, Oplan Kapayapaan, which targets the poor and oppressed in the countryside.
“Two years of the Duterte regime is two years of non-agrarian reform agenda, as it has yet to pass a new law to replace the expired and failed CARP,” Anakpawis Partylist Representative Ariel Casilao said.
Nationwide land cultivation
“PD 27, CARP, and other past agrarian reform laws failed the Filipino poor farmers, it is obvious, as they are driven to launch their own land reform program, such as the bungkalan campaign,” Casilao said in a statement.
Land cultivation campaigns, more popularly called as ‘bungkalan’, are now being conducted nationwide in an effort to retrieve haciendas grabbed by landlords, to convert idle lands into productive ones, and to utilize agricultural areas insidiously converted by landlords and private companies into lands for commercial use.
In Dasmariñas, Cavite, farmers and residents of Lupang Ramos continue to defend the land cultivation area from harassment of real estate agents Nelson Pangilinan and Rudy Herrera. The farmers have been tilling the land since the 1960s, but the real estate agents seek to convert it into a subdivision.
In Negros Occidental, farmers successfully launched two new land cultivation areas — one in Silay city, led by the AIDSISA Farmworkers’ Association, and another in the 487-hectare Hacienda Maasin in the town of Murcia.
Other land cultivation campaigns continue nationwide, as farmers strengthen their call for genuine agrarian reform and highlight the importance of the agricultural industry in the Philippines.
Call to end state terrorism
From the massacres at Mendiola, Hacienda Luisita, and Kidapawan to the everyday terror peasants in the countryside have to face with the intensified militarization of the Duterte regime, the farmers’ bravery in continuing the fight for genuine agrarian reform and social justice carries a history of bloodshed and brutality.
Two recent victims of state terrorism are from CARAGA, one of the regions in Mindanao where foreign mining corporations are notorious for extracting gold and other minerals.
On May 26, Beverly Geronimo, an active member of Tabing Guangan Farmers Association (TAGUAFA) was killed by suspected members of the 25th IBPA last May 26, 2018 in Brgy. Salvacion, Trento town, Agusan del Sur. On June 6, Bulatlat received an urgent alert that a Higaonon lumad, Jose Unahan, an active defender of ancestral land against large scale mining and member of the Unyon sa Mag-uuma sa Agusan Del Norte (UMAN), has been shot dead in Sitio Tagbakon, Barangay Culit, Nasipit, Agusan Del Norte.
“Farmers are the biggest casualties of Duterte’s rising tyranny and despotic rule. Farmers who fight for their right to the land and resist local and foreign land grabbing have become victims of state-sponsored violence and abuses,” KMP Chairperson Danilo Ramos said.
The significance of GRP-NDFP peace talks
As a response to landlessness and injustice, peasants will also call for the resumption of the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Prior to Duterte’s termination of the peace talks under Proclamation No. 360, the panels were already supposed to tackle the third component of the peace talks: the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), which includes free land distribution and genuine agrarian reform.
“A resumption of the peace talks will only be beneficial to farmers if both panels would discuss and arrive at a common agreement on significant social and economic reforms. A new and genuine agrarian reform program with free land distribution as main component should be included in the CASER,” Ramos said.
On June 8, peasants and farmworkers are set to march to Mendiola in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the long-dead and bogus Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and in condemnation of the ‘reign of terror and tyranny’. Farmers from Central Luzon have already started their caravan from Nueva Ecija to Manila today.
Decentralized actions from Luzon to Mindanao — in Iloilo, Dumaguete, Cebu, Bicol, Negros Occidental, Southern Mindanao Region, Northern Mindanao Region, and CARAGA will take place tomorrow.