Saturday, November 18, 2017

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News

Meanwhile, farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) will fast on Jan. 15 and 16 as a way of expressing to the pope their need for genuine land reform.
KMP chairman Rafael Mariano clarified that “the farmers’ fasting is not a protest against the pope.”

READ: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2015/01/08/1410658/noy-wants-papal-visit-security-improved

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.

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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.

MANILA — An international peasant fact-finding mission (IFFM) decried “massive landgrabbing,” land use conversion and human rights violations by government and private companies in two “big-ticket development projects” in the provinces of Tarlac and Pampanga in the Central Luzon region.

The peasant mission urged President Aquino to stop the Clark Green City of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) and the Alviera Project of the Ayala Land Inc. which have both already affected the people’s livelihood, and will eventually displace thousands of peasants and indigenous peoples.

Clark Green City – which falls under the Aquino administration’s Public-Private Partnership scheme — will rise in the former US Air Force base Camp O’Donnel in Capas, Tarlac. The Alviera project is in the village of Hacienda Dolores in Porac, Pampanga. Both areas are part of the Zambales mountains.

One of the women farmers of Hacienda Dolores. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / Bulatlat.com)
Both projects aim to develop integrated mixed-use megazones, which will serve as an extension of the already-congested Metro Manila.

The IFFM reported that the two projects encroach into thousands of hectares of ancestral lands of the Aeta tribes, as well as productive and abundant farm lands, which peasants have cultivated for decades, some of which were already covered by government agrarian reform.

The IFFM report said that, in Hacienda Dolores, the residents are suffering because their farms – their only source of livelihood — have been fenced off and they have been prohibited to enter.

Two peasant leaders have been shot dead in Hacienda Dolores this year and the killings were suspected to be linked to their opposition to the Alviera projects.

“Productive agricultural forces .. are being destroyed in the name of anti-people and pro-business real estate developments,” said the IFFM report presented on Nov. 20 at the Balay Kalinaw in the University of the Philippines. “These projects are nothing but bane and curse to the lives of farmers and Aetas,” the report said.

The IFFM, “in defense of farmers and indigenous peoples’ right to land in Clark Green City and Hacienda Dolores” was led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson and the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC). It was held from Nov. 17 to 19, and participated in by peasant leaders and organizers from India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Venezuela.

Hacienda Dolores

The village of Hacienda Dolores is the site of 1,125 hectare-Alviera project, which will develop a commercial, business, industrial district, university and research zone, residential and recreational areas. The project covers six of the eight sub-villages of Hacienda Dolores, affecting more than 1,000 households, which are mostly peasants.

The project proponent is the Ayala Land Inc., together with Leonio Land of the Leonardo Lachenal-Leonio Holdings (LLL) and its affiliate FL Property Management Corp. (FL).

The IFFM report said that in 2005, the Ayala Land and the other corporations started to claim ownership of the land, saying that they bought it from the Overseas Bank of Manila.

The FL Development Corporation also applied for an exemption from the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp), which the Department of Agrarian Reform approved based on “a deceptive local ordinance declaring the lands as non-agricultural,” said the IFFM.

In 2004, farmers and village residents had tried to question the construction of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (Sctex), which ate up farms covered by Carp. Little did they know that the road was meant to open the area to more landgrabbing.

As soon as the Ayala Land entered, fences and signs saying “No trespassing, private property” were put up, depriving farmers entry to their farms, livelihood and food.

A national fact-finding mission led by KMP gave the same finding last year, which shows that the situation has been prolonged, and is worsening.

This has pushed the farmers to put up a resistance, to which the private companies responded.

“Since the inception of the Alviera project, the local residents and farmers of Hacienda Dolores were met with violence and attacks,” said the IFFM. The mission said it documented “grave human rights violations perpetrated by the giant real estate corporations aided by state security forces and hired goons.”

These include attacks against members of the Aniban ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan sa Hacienda Dolores (Aniban) such as the shooting of Modesto Posadas by motorcycle-riding men, and the lobbing of a grenade at the house of Jessel Orgas, both in December 2013. The two men were wounded in the attacks.

The killings of two peasant leaders this year remain unresolved.

On Jan. 12, Arman Padiño, 33 was killed after he and two other farmers were shot at by security guard allegedly employed by the project proponents. “The same incident was used by the corporations to arrest and imprison the village chieftain Antonio Tolentino,” said the IFFM report.

On May 2, Aniban leader and village councillor Nemelao “Melon” Garcia was shot dead when he and his wife were ambushed on their way home.

AMGL chair Joseph Canlas said there is a PNP detachment in the village, and soldiers of the 56th Infantry Battalion regularly patrol and sometimes stay in the area. The security guards of the private companies are based in nearby Sapang Uwak village, which is mostly populated by Aetas.

Clark Green City

The Master Development Plan for Clark Green City spans 9,450 hectares “of vast, productive and abundant agricultural lands, the IFFM said. The Kilusang Nagtatanggol sa Inang Kalikasan (KNIK), a local alliance opposed to the project, said the project will displace some 20,000 Aeta and farmer families.

Based on the its master plan, the project intends to develop five districts: the government district, central business district, academic district, agri-forestry research and development district, and the wellness and eco-tourism district.

The mission said that while the government is “actively enticing private business and international investors” for the project, there is no plan for the indigenous peoples and farmers that they will evict. The BCDA actually considers them “squatters.”

Ironically, the IFFM said the Aeta and farmer communities have long inhabited the site of what became the US military reservation in 1947. After the Military Bases Agreement expired in 1991, the Corazon Aquino administration formed the BCDA to maintain government ownership of the vast tracts of lands.

The IFFM report said farmer and Aeta communities in Capas and Bamban had relied mainly on the land for income, planting rice, corn, root crops like purple yam and cassava and various fruit-bearing trees. In spite of this, the BCDA claimed that 36,000 hectares of land in the area is “barren and isolated.”

KMP chairman Rafael Mariano said the government authorized the BCDA “to accelerate development” and make the area productive.

“The land is cultivated for food production. Is that not productive?” said Mariano.

Mariano also suspected that Clark Green City might be one of the “agreed locations” being eyed under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca). The Crow Valley Gunnery Range is one of the venue for Balikatan exercises. Mariano said the planned “wellness area” may actually be for rest and recreation (RnR) of US servicemen. He said that among those who had visited the area was Randal Yim, former official of the US Department of Defense.

The IFFM reported that the farmers and Aetas are being divested of the lands not only by the government, but also by landlords and sugar planters, who use their land “in exchange for a meagre income.”

“During the mission, it was revealed that sugarcanes produced in Sitio Mauricia, Bamban village are brought to the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), the sugar mill owned by the Cojuangco-Aquinos,” said the IFFM report.

Negligence

Some of the IFFM delegates observed that the people in the two project areas have made their place productive and have subsisted, in spite of decades of government neglect. And now they are being even more disregarded.

Makabayan president Satur Ocampo said the government has “failed to get the side of the people and look at their problems.” He said the government must strike a balance between the people and the private sector.

“The land frontier has been exhausted, there are no more uncultivated land,” Ocampo said. “Haphazard, arbitrary land use conversion constricts the land available for food production, whereas the population is increasing.”

“The indigenous peoples are living in peace, with no support from government, no potable water,” said Raja Reddy, of the Agricultural Workers’ Union (APVVU) of India.

“They are worried, with more fear than anger. ‘Where will we go? Are we not human beings? Are we not citizens of this country,”Reddy quoted those interviewed by the mission.

Reddy called the area “a beautiful place, with its tall trees reaching the sky.” But everything will be destroyed by the project, he said. “People give power to government to support this environment, not destroy.”

The Indonesian leader from the Alliance of Agrarian Reform (Agra) said: “People there are not anti-development, but development must solve the people’s problems, not just bring infrastructure.”

Elmon David of Bayan Muna-Tarlac called the project “Black City,” since it forebodes a dark future for the affected indigenous peoples and farmers of Pampanga and Tarlac.
Ocampo said the two projects show the urgency of enacting a genuine land reform program, which will study which lands should remain for food production, and which should be for urban development.

Inquiry

Anakpawis partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap said the IFFM report will help him and other progressive lawmakers in the House of Representatives as they push for a congressional investigation on the effects of destructive projects in agicultural areas. Hicap said he had filed a resolution in January this year but it is still at the Committee on Rules and is yet to be delegated to an investigating committee.

Hicap mentioned that in the Nov. 19 congressional hearing for the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (Garb) or House Bill 252, the AFP representative from the Judge Advocate General Office said that there are 187 military reservations covering 179,000 has., but there are no more lands to be distributed to farmers.

Ocampo said that congress investigated a similar case during his time as Bayan Muna representative, in Capiz, where indigenous peoples tried to reclaim their ancestral lands covered by a military reservation. He said the military refused to turn over thousands of hectares of the reservation even though only a small part of it was being used for artillery practice.

“When the national government doesn’t take a decisive position, the people have to carry on the struggle,” he said.

Delegates came from APC member organizations: the KMP, the Agricultural Workers’ Union (APVVU) of India, Bangladesh Landless Association, Agricultural Farm Labour Federation of Bangladesh, and the Alliance of Agrarian Reform of Indonesia.

The IFFM interviewed farmers and indigenous peoples in five villages, namely Sta. Juliana, Arunguren, and Patling in Capas, and Anupul and San Vicente in Bamban, which are affected by the Clark Green City, and also made interviews in Hacienda Dolores village which is affected by the Alviera project.

See more at Bulatlat.com.