Sunday, January 21, 2018

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Land not bullets

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today condemned the shooting of banana plantation farmworkers reclaiming 145 hectares of government-awarded land inside the plantation of Lapanday Foods Corporation (LFC). in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

 

At around 7:20AM today, private security guards of the LFC opened fire against farmworkers and agrarian reform beneficiaries belonging to the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Inc. (MARBAI). Based on initial reports, at least seven farmers and land reform advocates were injured in the strafing incident.

 

“The farmworkers are only reclaiming the land that is rightfully theirs so they can start planting food crops for their consumption. Farmers are only exercising their moral and democratic right to till the land but security guards, upon the order of the Lapanday management, opened fire and strafed them,” said Antonio Flores, secretary General of KMP.

 

Among those injured were Emmanuel Buladaco of Tagum City, Rico Saladaga of Brgy Tibagon; Talban Miparanum of Brgy Kingking; Belardo Francisco of Brgy. Tagdangua; Jojo Gomez of Brgy Magnaga all located in Pantukan town and Jose Balucos of Brgy. Teresa, Maco in Compostela Valley. The wounded farmworkers were rushed to the regional hospital in Tagum City.

 

During the dispersal, LFC personnel sprayed chemicals on the protesting farmworkers using the aircraft utilized for aerial spraying in banana plantations. The farmworkers took refuge in a nearby church.

 

On December 9, hundreds of MARBAI farmworkers launched collective actions and entered the LFC compound to assert their installation to the awarded lands. Despite the harassment from security guards, they successfully entered the plantation. This morning, the security guards attacked the farmworkers as LFC personnel was scheduled to harvest bananas in the disputed land.

 

In the 1990s, the land, formerly owned by Hijo Plantation Inc. was voluntary offered for land reform coverage. The land was awarded to employees and three groups of ARBs were organized which later formed themselves into cooperatives.

 

In 1999, the Hijo Employees Agrarian Reform Cooperative 1. (HEARBCO 1) entered into growership contract agreement with Hijo Plantation Inc. (now Lapanday Foods Corp.) and Global Fruits Corp. for a period of 10 years. After years of growership contract with Lapanday, the HEARBCO 1 incurred more than P1-B debt and a section of farmers subsequently rejected the renegotiated growership contract with Lapanday because it is grossly disadvantageous to them. They organized and formed MARBAI and filed for petition for reinstatement to their tillage. A compromise agreement between HEARBCO 1 and LFC was agreed in 2011 reducing the debt to P800,000. In December 2015, Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator Jose Nilo Tillano issued an order reinstating the MARBAI farmworkers.

 

“Two years after the order was issued, the farmworkers are still not installed on the lands. We call on DAR to act swiftly and decisively on this matter to prevent any more violence,” said Flores.

 

Last Friday, despite harassment from security guards, the farmers successfully entered the LFC compound as they asserted to reclaim the land. On November 18, hundreds of ARBs from Mindanao led by MARBAI, started launching actions and protests to reclaim the lands and start farming again. Thousands of farmworkers were unjustly terminated by the LFC in 2011.

 

Lapanday Foods Corp. is owned by the family of former Department of Agriculture Secretary Cito Lorenzo. ###

 

Reference: Antonio Flores, Secretary General, 0921-2726682 

 

 

Yulo King Ranch peasant killing

 

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) condemned the killing of a peasant leader in Coron, Palawan inside the disputed 39,000 hectares of land known as ‘Yulo King Ranch’ being land grabbed by the government and private entities in Coron and Busuanga in Palawan. Last September 20, farmer leader Arnel Figueroa was reportedly shot by Dante Mayo, a blue guard employed by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) of the Department of Agriculture.

KMP secretary general Antonio Flores said the absence of a genuine land reform program by the government has been capitalized by landlords and landgrabbers to strengthen control over the lands by attacking farmers using hired goons, security guards and state security forces turned private armies. “Farmers who assert their right to till through land cultivation activities are either killed, arrested and jailed or subjected to various forms of abuses,” the peasant leader said citing the recent peasant killings in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Isabela and North Cotabato.

Some 8,000 hectares of alienable and disposable public lands in Yulo King Ranch (YKR) are the subject of request for land reform coverage by different peasant groups.

Flores said that a fact-finding mission led by the KMP in Yulo King Ranch in 2014, declared that “the disputed grazing and pasture land, if distributed and cultivated, could ensure food security, economic sustainability and self-sufficiency not only for the people of Coron and Busuanga but also for the entire country.”

The KMP leader said that the bogus Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) has declared the Yulo King Ranch lands as unfit for farming even with the presence of agricultural activities. “For decades, farmers have been cultivating and planting cashew, coconut, banana jackfruit, calamansi and bananas fruit bearing trees in the vast lands.”

“But the PD 27 and the succeeding bogus CARP has exempted the disputed lands from actual land distribution and as a result, rendered farmers landless and poor,” Flores said.

“With 40,000 hectares benefiting merely a thousand cattles, while thousands of farmers are impoverished, hungry and lacking of access to economic productivity and self-sufficiency, this is the biggest agricultural anomaly of our country,” the KMP leader said.

Since 2013, the KMP and its regional chapter Katipunan ng mga Magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK) has been campaigning against the massive landgrabbing of the YKR in Coron and Busuanga in Palawan.

Farmers in Coron and Busuanga were tilling the lands even before the government, through Proclamation No. 1387 declared the 39,238.93 hectares of lands as pasture lands in 1975. The said land is the subject of a long-running dispute between farmers and the Yulo King Ranch owned by Luis Yulo and Peter Sabido, known cronies of Marcos who were able to usurp the lands during Martial Law.

In 1986, the land was sequestered by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) as it allegedly formed part of Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth, and the management of the ranch was transferred to the Bureau of Animal Industries (BAI).

In March 2010, the Supreme Court lifted the sequestration order, and transferred the management of the land to Philippine Forest Corporation (PhilForest).

In 2013, President Benigno Aquino III signed Presidential Proclamation 663 transferring the administration of the pasture reserve to the Forest Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“Under the guise of the Busuanga Pasture Reserve, the government has seized and controlled the lands. Original settlers in the affected communities, such as Tagbanua, Calamianes, and Cuyonin, were displaced from the lands to give way to the establishment of business and economic activities like grazing and pasture activities, agro-forestry, tourism, and industrial development,” Flores said.

The government, then ordered the deployment of Marines Battalion Landing Team-4 (MBLT-4) in the disputed lands to harass farmers and settlers who are defending their rights to the lands.

“YKR is recognized as the biggest ranch in Asia, and yet, the number of cattle and horses in the disputed land has dramatically decreased over the years. The vast area provided for pasture land is obviously excessive compared to the number of cattle in the whole 40,000 hectares, since only one hectare is considered sufficient for a cattle to live,” said Flores. ###

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the moratorium on land use conversion and the condonation of bank penalties would provide a respite to “tens of thousands of farmers who are facing threats of eviction” due to projects in agricultural lands and the Land Bank foreclosure.

The KMP cited as examples land use conversion cases at Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, Hacienda Looc in Batangas and the agricultural lands affected by the MRT-7 project in Bulacan.


On September 12, 2016, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) approved a Two-Year Moratorium on Land Use Conversion (LUC) and started preparing an Executive Order for its implementation.

According to DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano, “the Executive Order Declaring a Moratorium on the Processing and Approval of All Applications  for Land Use Conversion of Agricultural Lands to Non-Agricultural Purposes shall cover the following:”

– all awarded lands under RA 6657 as amended, PD 27 and other agrarian reform laws

– all agricultural lands with Notices of Coverage (NOCs)

– all irrigated and irrigable lands

– all prime agricultural lands

– retention areas of landowners which are tenanted or occupied by tenant-farmers.

– all agricultural lands with presence of agricultural activities and cultivated by farmers, individually or collectively.

– the moratorium shall cover the 4.7 million hectares agricultural lands distributed or awarded to agrarian reform beneficiaries, landholdings under premature or illegal conversion and landholdings without conversion order issued by DAR which has the exclusive authority to approve and disapprove of land use conversion.

– PARC will create a Task Force to assess the situation of Land Use Conversion in the country.

– DAR will promulgate the rules and regulations for the Land Use Conversion moratorium order.

 

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has drawn fire from activist farmer groups angered by its findings on the bloodshed during the April 1 dispersal of protesting farmers in Kidapawan City.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the rights body, in its May 30 report, glossed over the atrocities committed by the government forces during the riot, which left two protesters dead, two police officers seriously injured and dozens of others hurt.
“By saying that both sides provoked the confrontation, the CHR blames the protesters and armors the PNP for violating laws on the conduct of police officers during demonstrations which state that they are barred from bearing firearms and must exercise maximum tolerance,” the group said in a statement.

The KMP said the CHR practically absolved the police from its “grave crimes” against the protesting hungry farmers.
In its 46-page report, the CHR detailed the series of events that led to the violent dispersal of at least 3,000 drought-hit farmers who were asking the government for rice and other food supplies along the Kidapawan-Davao Highway.
The report found that excessive force was used by the Philippine National Police against the farmers contrary to protocols prescribed in the police operations manual, and that it was the first to fire the shot.
On the other hand, the CHR said it also found evidence that a number of the protesters had been “induced to join the protest action through deceit by the organizers and ‘unknown persons.’”
The militant Anakpawis party-list group also expressed its resentment over the CHR resolution, describing it as “narrow and wrongly premised on the assumption that the hunger due to extreme drought was only contained in North Cotabato.”
“It is detached from reality that agriculture across the country already lost P5 billion since February 2015, that clearly establishes that farmers have lost sources of livelihood and income, hence, they have no means to secure their food needs,” Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap said in a statement.
“The report did not even bother to recommend the immediate dropping of direct assault charges against the obviously incapable three pregnant farmers and six elderly” among them, Anakpawis said.
The group identified them as Arlene Candiban, six months pregnant; Eliza Candiban, five months pregnant; Rolinda Paonil, two months pregnant; Dionisio Alagos, 60 years old; Gerardo Pequero, 66; Crisanto Carlum, 72; Jovita Debalid, 68; Lolita Porras, 65, and Valentina Berden, 78.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/789108/farmers-groups-denounce-chrs-kidapawan-report#ixzz4AeiXfo00
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World Food Day 2015

On the occasion of the 70th year of the United Nations-declared World Food Day today, the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) described as a “total failure” the Aquino government’s food-security program and dared presidential bets to solve the lingering hunger in the country.

 

KMP chair Rafael Mariano said “Aquino’s importation-dependent food security program is a total failure.”

 

“Instead of strengthening local food production through genuine land reform and support to production, Aquino and the Department of Agriculture has mainly relied from food importation coupled with the shameless plunder of funds supposedly intended for farmers,” Mariano said.

 

Worst, Mariano said, “Aquino’s land-use conversion policy devoted tens of thousands of agricultural lands for exports-crop production, commercial, residential, and eco-tourism purposes.”

 

The KMP said that “the Filipino people are yet to hear from presidential wannabes their platform on the persistent poverty and hunger in the country.”

 

“The worsening hunger and poverty is a litmus test to all presidential aspirants. We challenge them to do away with the government’s subservience to neoliberal dictates of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Agriculture, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and the likes, that resulted to the flooding of imported agricultural in our local market, the devastation of our agriculture, and the massive displacement of our farmers,” Mariano said.

 

In the Philippines, at least 66 million people go hungry despite surveys that the hunger incidence was the lowest in the last 10 years. “The government callously declared that a person who has P52 to spend every day is not poor and hungry,” says Mariano.

 

“The prices of food and rice doubled under the Aquino administration. On the average, a kilo of well-milled rice costs P42, which is unaffordable for many of our poor kababayans. High cost of food and rice further deprived our people of access to food,” Mariano concluded. ###

Hundreds of farmers from Bulacan and Bohol led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) rally the gates of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) today for the failure to act over the worsening cases of harassment and killings caused by private armies and military in peasant communities.

 

“We are appalled by the negligence and impunity the DILG and the DAR perpetuates in the militarization of farm lands,” says KMP secretary general Antonio Flores noting that even farmer-beneficiaries under what the group described as ‘bogus’ Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), like Roger Vargas, and his wife Lucila, were killed due to a land dispute in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.

 

Directly under DILG, both the municipal and provincial offices of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bulacan have failed to determine the so-called interested party that hired the security guards which had a heated argument with slain couple a day before their brutal murder.

 

On the other hand, Bohol farmers protested the increased militarization of farmlands in the town of Trinidad as shown in the construction of military camp of the 2nd Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army in the more than 600-hectare land covered by CARP.

 

“Ironically, government agencies that are supposed to protect its people are the ones attacking us.  The attempts to shut down our Sitio Panaghiusa Rice Mill located in an agrarian reform area in Barangay San Vicente, in the Municipality of Trinidad, Bohol have been ceaseless.  DILG together with governor Edgardo Chato have been instrumental in the illegal encroachment of the military camp responsible for numerous cases of harassments against the rice mill beneficiaries,” says Hugpong sa Mag-uumang Bol-anon (HUMABOL) chairperson Danilo Olayvar.

 

A reported incident last July 22, 2014 in which 40 elements of the military led by provincial agriculture officer Liza Quirog barged into the rice mill warehouse. The armed troops surrounded the rice mill while Quirog along with armed military personnel, without permission, entered the warehouse and intimidated the resident staff.

 

Farmers from Bohol belonging to the Trinidad–Talibon Integrated Farmers Association (TTFA) and rice farmers of Ubay, Trinidad, Talibon, San Miguel, Mabini and Dagohoy are facing grave threats from the Bohol local government, various agencies and state armed forces as they are being coerced to close down the the 300-square meter Sitio Panaghiusa Rice Mill and Warehouse, a medium-scale milling and marketing facility  Barangay San Vicente operated by TTFA which provide services and assistance to farmers in at least 30 villages.

 

An International Fact-Finding Mission in Trinidad, Bohol last September 20-22 revealed that the illegal encroachment of a military camp in agrarian reform areas continuously threatens the lives of local farmers in Trinidad and nearby municipalities. Harassment against farmers are carried out through the Countrywide Development Program-Purok Power Movement (CDP-PPM), initiated by the Bohol LGU with the active participation of the AFP’s 2nd Special Forces Battalion.

 

“We are seeing a general trend of intensifying brutal attacks across the country as peasant leaders, indigenous peoples, and civilians have become open targets of Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan,” says KMP secretary general Antonio Flores.

 

Tanggol Magsasaka have accounted more than 200 extra judicial killings of peasants and indigenous peoples and 723 cases of incarceration on fabricated charges under Aquino’s reign.

 

“Oplan Bayahinhan, in it’s final wave of wreaking havoc in rural communites, have resorted to targeting civilians and leaders of people’s organizations.  The president’s last days in  office is being characterized by brutal killings and political attacks of farmers. We demand Aquino to immediately put a stop to his Oplan Bayanihan,” Flores said.

 

“This culture of impunity and inaction affirms that the Aquino government is a landlord regime with no interest of helping the predicament of farmers. In fact, it is Aquino’s counter-insurgency program that is responsible for more than 160 extrajudicial killings of peasants, incarcerated hundreds for trumped-up charges and harassed thousands from the rural areas. Farmers of Bulacan and Bohol have been struggling for decades to defend their rights to land. We demand the immediate pull out of all private armies and military troops in peasant communities,” ended Flores. #

READ FULL ARTICLE : http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/707735/farmers-say-p-noy-gets-zero-on-land-reform

Stop political killings vs. farmers; justice for the victims of Paquibato Massacre

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today picketed in front of Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City to condemn the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the Paquibato Massacre in Davao City and the state’s militarization campaign that victimizes civilians, mostly farmers and indigenous peoples.

KMP holds accountable the Aquino administration for more than 150 cases of extrajudicial killings of peasant leaders, farmers and indigenous peoples in the country. “Farmers are easy targets of the regime’s intense militarization and counter-insurgency campaign that claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians and continue to sow terror and violence among peasant communities in the countryside,” said KMP secretary-general Antonio Flores.

From July 2010 to March 2015, under Aquino’s watch, 145 farmers became victims of summary executions perpetrated by government forces, particularly the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The latest victims were tribal leader Datu Ruben Enlog, 54 years old, Chairman of the Nagkahiusang Lumad sa Paquibato (Nagkalupa), local village leader Randy Carnasa, 49 and Oligario Quimbo, 41, a member of Paquibato District Peasants Alliance (PADIPA).

They were massacred last June 14 in Purok 7, Barangay Paradise Embac in Paquibato District, Davao City by state security forces belonging to the Philippine Army’s 69th Infantry Battalion.

Still unaccounted for and missing as of today are local farmer leader Aida Siesa and her husband Henry. Siesa is the spokesperson of PADIPA and the Secretary-General of KMP in Southern Mindanao Region.

According to initial reports gathered by human rights group KARAPATAN, men in full military uniform, wearing bonnets, without nameplates and armed with high powered guns attacked Purok 7, Barangay Paradise Embac, a residential community, and strafed Siesa’s house at past midnight on Sunday. The strafing incident lasted for 30 minutes. The armed men kept on firing even if the residents shouted that they are civilians and minors are inside the house.

The Paquibato massacre is believed to be in retaliation to a fact-finding mission led by local farmers and Lumads.

It was known that on June 10 to 12, KMP-SMR and PADIPA led a fact-finding and humanitarian mission to investigate the aerial bombings and series of human rights violations in Sitio Quimotod, Barangay Fatima, Paquibato District, Davao City as result of the military encampment of the 69th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army (IBPA) in the civilian communities. The team conducted medical and psycho-social intervention for the distressed children and on-site investigation, respectively.

The mission’s initial report revealed that military-grade bombs were dropped on farmsteads based on shrapnels and ammunition cartridges retrieved from the area, damaged plants like bananas, coconuts, and durians, and bullet holes on the roofs and walls of houses, were all confirmed and documented. The incidents were perpetrated by the 69th IBPA.

Enlog, Carnasa and Siesa were previously vilified and harassed by the military. Siesa is facing trumped-up charges while leaders and members of the PADIPA are accused of being a members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

“We demand the immediate pull-out of the 69th IB in Paquibato District and to stop the human rights abuses against peasant farmers and peasant leaders,” said Flores adding that “the AFP and the government should be held responsible for the unending list of farmers killed under the Aquino administration.”

Livestreaming will be available here on the launching of the Philippine Land Reform Movement on May 28, 2015, 9 AM-4 PM (Philippine Standard Time)

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Bicol coco farmers “takes over” Legaspi Oil Mill, ST contingent picket PCA, Mendiola

Small coconut farmers from Southern Luzon led by the claimants’ movement Coco Levy Funds Ibalik sa Amin (CLAIM) and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today staged coordinated protests against President Aquino’s Executive Orders 179 and 180 that seeks to privatize the coco levy funds and assets.

The Southern Tagalog contingent led by the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) picketed the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and trooped to Mendiola Bridge.

Coordinated protests in Bicol, on the other hand, were led by CLAIM-Bicol and the Bicol Coconut Planters Association Inc. (BCPAI) and staged a symbolic take-over of the Legazpi Oil Mills and picketed the PCA in Legaspi City, in Albay.

In Camarines Sur farmers held a protest at the United Coconut Planters Bank and PCA in Naga City, while Masbate coconut farmers also staged protest actions at the local PCA.

The peasant groups strongly opposed Aquino’s recently issued Executive Orders 179 and 180 directing the “transfer and reconveyance to the government and the subsequent privatization of all coco levy funds and assets” including but not limited to shares of stock in San Miguel Corporation (SMC), the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF) Oil Mills, CIIF Holding Companies, the UCPB.

CLAIM national coordinator Nestor Villanueva said “small coconut farmers are fed up of Aquino’s plunder and deception. Aquino’s privatization and auction of the UCPB, CIIF Oil Mills, and other coco levy funded assets are an outright denial and deprivation of our just and legitimate claim over the coco levy funds.” “Our protest seeks to send a strong political message to Aquino that the CIIF-Oil Mills and the UCPB are not for sale,” Villanueva said adding that Aquino must also return small coconut farmers’ money amounting to an estimated P80 billion recovered from SMC that is now in the Bureau of Treasury. 72.2 percent of the UCPB was purchased by the government using coco levy funds while CIIF Oil Mills were also established using the small coconut farmers’ money.

“The coco levy funds and assets are owned by small coconut farmers and not by the government. We demand Aquino to withdraw his plunderous executive orders and give back our money,” Villanueva said.

CLAIM-Bicol coordinator Bert Autor said that “Aquino’s executive orders are obviously designed to once again plunder the coco levy funds.” “Aquino is racing against time. He wants to plunder the coco levy fund before the Filipino people forces him to resign or even before he steps down in 2016,” Autor said.

Autor warned that Aquino’s tremendous desire to plunder small coconut farmers’ money would hasten his imminent downfall.

KMP chair Rafael Mariano said Executive Orders 179 and 180 clearly demonstrate “the height of the President’s greed.” “EO 179 and 180 shows the haciendero President’s insatiable greed and penchant against farmers and proves that he cannot be trusted by small coconut farmers,” Mariano said.

He said “EO 179 and 180 strengthened state control over the funds by declaring that all coco levy funds belong to the government which did not contribute a single cent to the funds.”

“Aquino deceived, deprived, and denied small coconut farmers of their just and legitimate claim over hundreds of billions of pesos worth of coco levy fund and assets. Aquino’s ouster from power is in order,” the peasant said. The KMP and CLAIM insist that “the oil mills, the UCPB, and the SMC shares are owned by small coconut farmers” and that “Aquino has no legal and moral authority to sell these coco levy funded corporations and assets.”

“It is therefore just and legitimate to escalate direct actions to reclaim the coco levy funds and assets and thwart Aquino’s attempt to plunder the funds anew,” the KMP and CLAIM said.

Ang Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) ay demokratiko at militanteng kilusan ng mga magsasaka, manggagawang bukid, kababaihang magsasaka at kabataang magbubukid. Ito ay may animnapu’t limang panlalawigang balangay (65 provincial chapters) sa labinlimang panrehiyong balangay (15 regional chapters) na binubuo ng mahigit dalawang milyong kasapian mula sa Luzon, Visayas at Mindanao.