Gov’t to use Japan aid to land grab, displace farmers

Militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) held a symbolic protest at the Japanese Embassy in Manila while Japan’s Imperial couple Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are visiting the country. The Japanese government through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will fund the feasibility study of the more than

P62-billion Metro Rail Transit -7 Project that will displace thousands of farmers from San Jose Del Monte City in Bulacan.

“We want the Japanese royalty to know that the escalating land-grabbing and human rights abuses against farmers of San Jose Del Monte are directly linked with the Aquino government’s push for the MRT-7 Project that will mainly benefit Aquino’s uncle Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco,” said KMP secretary general Antonio Flores.

The main proponent of the MRT-7 is Universal LRT Corporation (ULC), a consortium of San Miguel Corporation, chaired by Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco.

The MRT-7 Project is a 22.8 kilometer rail system with 14 stations, stretching from North Avenue in Quezon City to a planned Intermodal Transportation Terminal in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan province. It is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) project amounting to Php62.7 billion or a whopping $1.44-billion, one of the biggest in record.

Thelma Cartoneros of the Samahan ng Sandigan ng Magsasaka (Sasamag), a local farmers organization in Sitio San Isidro, Tungkong Mangga said the harassment against farmers and residents in the area has intensified ever since the government announced the MRT-7 Project. “Day and night, security guards hired by Araneta Properties Inc. are roaming our village and preventing farmers to tend their farmlands,” Cartoneros said.

Sitio San Isidro is targeted as the location of the intermodal depot terminal and 14th station of the proposed MRT-7 Project.

Aside from the MRT-7 Project, JICA has also funded other big-ticket projects including the $368.7-million Calaca II Coal Fired Power Plant in Batangas, the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) worth $538.9-million, the Post-Disaster Stand-by Loan worth $456.4-million. ###