Lack of land reform, coco fund return in Sona

KMP to Duterte: Heed farmers’ plea for a piece of land for peace

The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today urged President Duterte to heed farmers’ demands for a genuine land reform program and the immediate return of the coco levy funds to small coconut farmers to achieve a “just and lasting peace.”

The KMP issued the statement after the President failed to mention in his first State of the Nation Address (Sona) a policy directive on land reform and the return of the multi-billion coco levy funds which the peasant group described as a “commitment” during the campaign.

KMP chair Joseph Canlas maintained that “the lack of mention of land reform and the coco levy funds in the president’s Sona is a call on farmers to rely mainly in the peasant mass movement and struggle, including the peace negotiations, in asserting their rights to the land.”

He said “farmers are taking the road of armed revolution mainly due to the continuing land monopoly and land-grabbing by big landlords and plantations, and the lingering semi-feudal exploitation.”

“Peace cannot be achieved by the mere laying down of arms. A just peace can only be achieved by addressing the armed conflict from its roots,” Canlas said.

“We urge Duterte to heed farmers’ plea for a piece of land and return the coco levy funds to small coconut farmers for the achievement of a just and lasting peace,” the peasant leader said.

The KMP also expressed hopes on the resumption of peace negotiations between the Duterte government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines as another field in the struggle for land reform and the recovery of the coco funds.

“Genuine agrarian reform and rural development would be at the core of the next substantive agenda on social and economic reforms. This will address the roots of war,” Canlas said.

“Aside from free land distribution, the NDFP draft comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms recognizes the rightful claim of peasants and agricultural workers to the coco levy funds, sugar amelioration fund and tobacco excise tax,” Canlas noted.

“The Filipino peasantry and the rural poor will be the main beneficiaries of the resumption of peace negotiations,” the KMP leader said. #