Activist farmers led by the militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today sneaked once again at the House of Representatives’ session hall lobby to protest the railroading of “two anti-peasant bills that would result to the massive land-grabbing and eviction of farmers in the countryside.”
The farmers are protesting Resolution of Both Houses No. 1 or the Charter change bill which seeks to ease the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution to give foreigners 100 percent ownership of lands, utilities, media, and other resources that was approved on second reading on Wednesday last week. On the other hand, House Bill 4296, a bill seeking to extend the “expired CARP” for another two years was reportedly set to be approved by the House plenary before the June 11 adjournment.
The KMP said that while the lifting of the 60-40 limit on land ownership via Charter change would pave the way for the 100 percent ownership of lands by foreigners, an extended CARP will guarantee the protection of foreign interests in agriculture.
“The sham CARP is set to deliver lands for Cha-cha’s land auction to foreigners,” says KMP chair Rafael Mariano elaborating that “extending CARP and its provisions on exemption and exclusion will ensure that vast tracts of agricultural lands occupied by farmers will be put up for sale to foreigners through Cha-cha.”
“In its 26 years, the CARP failed to protect the tenure rights of farmers. Instead, the CARP served as a legal cover to local and foreign land-grabbing with so-called leaseback and agri-business venture arrangements,” says Mariano noting that, among others, multi-national plantations Dole and Del Monte’s continuing control in over 200,000 hectares of lands in Mindanao.
“Aquino’s twin anti-peasant legislations, the Cha-cha and CARP extension bills, are bound to worsen land-grabbing and forced eviction of farmers in the countryside,” Mariano warned adding: “Instead, we call on Congress to defy the whims of Malacanang and muster the guts to probe real estate giants and land-grabbers that are unleashing increased violence against farmers.”
The farmers protest was staged in the face of a Memorandum issued by the House ‘blacklisting’ militant organizations, including KMP, at the premises of the House.
“No amount of memorandum can curtail our basic right to protest against land-grabbing and injustice. Even Marcos who openly declared martial rule tried but failed to silence the peasantry. In fact, open fascism even fuelled peasant resistance and agrarian unrest in the countryside,” Flores said.
The KMP, which is pushing for House Bill 252 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, said thousands of farmers are set to stage “peasants camp-out” in Congress next week against Charter change and House Bill 4296 maintaining that “the sham CARP failed to break land monopoly” and that “CARP already expired in June 2014 and a mere extension bill cannot extend an expired law.”
“Instead of defending our legitimate rights to the lands, the landlord president and his pro-CARP allies are hell-bent in resurrecting the dead CARP which is the main culprit in the agony of farmers,” the KMP leader said. #