“Sneaky Cha-cha approval black eye on land reform,” says farmers

On the occasion of the public launching today at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City of a new movement demanding genuine land reform to what it described as “haciendero government” of President Aquino, the Philippine Land Reform Movement (PLRM) called on the Filipino people to intensify resistance against the recently approved Charter change (Cha-cha).

The PLRM warned that Aquino’s Cha-cha which seeks the removal of protectionist provisions of the 1987 Constitution is a big sell-out of the country’s national patrimony. Authored by House speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Resolution of Both Houses No. 1 was passed on second reading by the House of Representatives yesterday. It seeks to lift constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership of land, resources, utilities, and other key industries.

“The Aquino government’s Charter Change is one big sell-out of the country’s national patrimony,” the PLRM said in a statement.

The group said that “the persistent push for the removal of supposed protectionist economic provisions in the Constitution through Charter change would further open the floodgates for the unbridled entry of foreign and local agribusinesses, mining corporations, real estate giants, big ticket eco-tourism projects, etc. in the countryside.”

“Upon the prescription of the United States, Charter change would worsen the widespread land-grabbing, land-use conversion, and forced eviction of peasants and rural poor in the countryside,” the PLRM warned.

For its part, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the House’s sneaky approval on second reading of Belmonte’s bill is a “black eye” to the peasantry’s aspiration for genuine land reform.

“Cha-cha’s 100 percent foreign ownership of lands is directly in contrast with land reform. It removes any remaining pretension of Aquino’s haciendero government on agrarian reform and exposes the President as the brains behind Charter change,” says KMP chair Rafael Mariano.

Mariano also warned that once the 1987 Constitution is opened to amendments, “once the Constitution is opened to amendments, Aquino’s allies will surely push for political amendments including but not limited to the lifting of term limits of the President and other public officials, and the curtailment of civil liberties.”

“Aquino’s Cha-cha is entering its final stage, we call on the Filipino people to resist the Aquino government’s attempt to put our lands, resources, and national patrimony into global auction,” the PLRM said.

Attended by more than 500 personalities and leaders of various sectoral organizations, the PLRM is the biggest and broadest movement of land reform advocates ranging from farmers, workers, academics, economists, lawyers, church people, youth, peace advocates, artists, migrants, women, parliamentarians, professionals, and nationalists in the business sector.

The PLRM vowed to “link arms with farmers and the rural poor in the struggle for genuine land reform, in the assertion and defense of farmers’ rights to lands including the launching of direct actions in the face of the looming land-grabbing to be brought by Aquino’s Charter change.”

Senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Grace Poe sent video messages of support, while Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel Jr. and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte sent messages of solidarity read by his representative.

Farmers from Hacienda Luisita, Hacienda Dolores, Araneta Estate in Central Luzon, Hacienda Looc, Hacienda Yulo in Southern Tagalog, Tumanduk farmers from Panay, the Cordilleras, Cagayan Valley, and Mindanao attended the PLRM launch.

Aside from farmers led by KMP, the personalities and organizations that attended the PLRM launching includes University of the Philippines Prof. Bobby Tuazon and Roland Simbulan, UP College of Mass Communications Dean Roland Tolentino, UP Prof. Marion Tan, Makabayan President Satur Ocampo, Carol Araullo and Liza Maza of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Rosario Bella Guzman of Ibon Foundation, Anakbayan’s Vencer Crisostomo, the National Economic Protectionism Association (NEPA), Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (Masipag), nuns from the Religious of the Good Shepherd, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), and the National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates – Youth.

Also in attendance are the Anti-Trapo Movement, Pilgrims for Peace, WE Govern Institute, academics from the Congress of Teachers for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND), the Kilusang Mayo Uno, Anakbayan, and the League of Filipino Students (LFS). #