MANILA – Militant peasant groups and land reform advocates from different sectors trooped to Mendiola Bridge today to demand that the Duterte administration expedite the crafting of a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) that should include provisions on free land distribution to farmers and the consequent dismantling of the hacienda system controlled by big landlords and oligarchs.
The NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) are expected to wind down tomorrow with the fourth round of formal peace talks in The Netherlands that resulted with both parties agreeing to forge an interim joint ceasefire subject to the final signing of the CASER.
Antonio Flores, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said that there should be specific and categorical statements on free land distribution in the provisions regarding agrarian reform and rural development to ensure that the final document of the CASER genuinely effect social justice.
KMP said one of the chief reasons for the failure of previous programs on agrarian reform is the refusal of past administrations to distribute land to the farmers for free. Citing data from the Land Bank of the Philippines, the group said that only nine out of ten land reform beneficiaries have been able to pay the amortization cost imposed on awarded lands since the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was implemented in 1988.
KMP also said that it has submitted to the NDFP a priority list of landholdings or haciendas owned and controlled by the country’s landlords and multinational corporations that would have to be dismantled and distributed for free to millions of tillers as soon as the CASER is finally signed and becomes operative.
Among those in the said list are Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac which according to KMP is still under the direct control of the Cojuangco-Aquinos despite a 2012 Supreme Court decision that ordered its distribution, the banana plantation owned by the Lapanday Foods Corporation and the Lorenzos of Mindanao, and the agricultural estates owned by Eduardo Cojuangco mostly found in Negros, Isabela and Mindanao.
Also included in the shortlist are the Hacienda Looc (Batangas); Hacienda Dolores (Pampanga); Hacienda Yulo (Laguna); Clark Green City (Pampanga-Tarlac) ; Fort Magsaysay (Nueva Ecija) ; Yulo King Ranch (Palawan); Hacienda Roxas (Batangas); Hacienda Zobel (Batangas) ; Hacienda Larrazabal (Ormoc); Araneta Estate (Bulacan) ; Floirendo plantations (Mindanao); DMCI-Consunji logging areas (Sultan Kudarat); and San Miguel Corp. energy areas (Davao).
KMP also called on the Duterte government, especially in the light of an impending interim joint ceasefire between the GRP and the NDFP, to immediately order the Armed Forces of the Philippines to pull out its troops in the countryside.
“We are joined in our protest action today by our Lumad brothers and sisters who have come all the way from Mindanao to condemn the recent bombings of the AFP in their areas; the President should immediately put a stop to the continued terror attacks of the military against the people, “ Flores said.#