CL farmers assail Aquino gov’t for neglect of land reform

MORE than three hundred farmers from different provinces of Central Luzon launched their three-day protest to mark the 40th anniversary of Presidential Decree 27, the land reform program of the Marcos dictatorship.

Members of Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luson (Amgl, Farmers Alliance in Central Luzon) and Anakpawis Partylist-Central Luzon (Anakpawis-CL) kicked off their protest at the gates of Clark Special Economic zone in Angeles City, Pampanga as part of the nationwide farmers’ campaign led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

They were joined by members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) – Central Luzon, Anakbayan, Kadamay, Karapatan and more.

Amgl and Anakpawis-CL are demanding the repeal of the Republic Act 9700 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with ‘Reforms’ or CARPer and the passage of the House Bill 374 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) filed by Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano and representatives from Bayan Muna, Gabriela Womens’ Party, ACT Partylist and Kabataan Partylist.

Members of Amgl and Anakpawis-CL coming from different provinces assembled at Brgy. San Roque, Tarlac City, the site of the violent demolition and killing of an urban poor youth on October 2. They protested the illegal demolition and extra-judicial killing of John Khali Lagrimas by Tarlac police by holding a short program, then marked the activity at Clark to protest the continuing land grabbing and displacement of farmers cultivating the remaining lands of the Clark Airbase Military Reservation and continuing puppetry of the Aquino government to the US, holding periodic Balikatan military exercises in the region.

“We protest the detrimental policies and program of the Aquino government, displacing farmers and even urban poor from the lands of the region and offering them to foreign investors. The Aquino presidency has never effected any fundamental changes, farmers are still facing chronic landlessness leading to unimaginable poverty and hardships,” Joseph Canlas said, Amgl chair and Anakpawis-CL regional coordinator.

Farmers affected by various issues in the region joined the protest such as farmworkers from Hacienda Luisita led by Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), farmers affected by the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (Apeco) led by Pamana-Aurora, Nueva Ecija farmers from Guimba and Gabaldon towns and Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) led by Amgl-Nueva Ecija, farmers facing displacement and land use conversion (LUCs) from Pampanga led by Aguman Dareng Maglalautang Capampangan (Amc) and Tarlac led by Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Tarlak (AMT), farmers and fisherfolk from Camp Gregg Military Reservation and Mangabul lake in Bayambang, Pangasinan led by Timmawa-Pangasinan, mining-affected farmers from Zambales led by Amgl-Zambales, indigenous peoples under Central Luzon Ayta Association (CLAA), Timpuyog Kaigorotan – Nueva Ecija and SKSM – Aurora.

“Farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples in Central Luzon are the usual victims of government programs and projects such land use conversion, eco-tourism, super-highways, mining and more. The Aquino government has hastened dislocation as he expects foreign investment by selling lands, minerals and other natural resources. Aquino is worsening landlessness and putting the farmers into hellish poverty and misery. Aquino has sold the Filipino people to foreign interests,” Canlas said.

The farmers marched towards Plaza Miranda in Angeles City and held a protest program. They vigiled at covered court of Brgy. Pulung Bulo, where they held their solidarity program joined by various sectors. They proceeded towards Manila in a caravan and protested in front of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment (DENR) central offices in Quezon City. They were joined by farmers coming from Southern Tagalog led by Kasama-TK, KMP’s regional chapter.

“We protested at DAR as it plays a vital role in keeping the lands under the control of landowners and cancelling Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA), Certificate of Land Transfer (CLT) and Emancipation Patents (EP). It is also sowing confusion among the farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita as it is making a new list of farmworker-beneficiaries, contrary to the 6,296-name list considered by the Supreme Court,” Canlas said.

The groups also protested DENR’s inaction to destructive mining operations in Zambales, and blacksand mining in Lingayen, Pangasinan. They claimed that DENR has ignored the land issue of farmers from Bayambang, Pangasinan and illegal logging in Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija.

On the last day, Amgl and Anakpawis-CL joined the KMP-led protest at Mendiola.

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