Groups slam “fake people’s groups, fake dev’t”

MORE than two decades after the implementation of Project CALABARZON, militant groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Southern Tagalog (Bayan-ST) and Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK) reiterated the dismal effects of the project in the region.

Rjei Manalo, spokesperson of Bayan-ST, stressed that since the implementation of Project CALABARZON in 1990, more than 100,000 families of farmers, fisher folks and indigenous people were forced to leave their homes due to the ambitious program of converting agricultural lands of Southern Tagalog into urban zones catering to the interests of foreign investors, local landlords and big corporations. “Today marks a critical failure of Cory Aquino’s administration wherein decades after, the situation is still perpetrated by another Aquino leadership. It seems history doesn’t only repeat itself, it also worsens.” she added.

The groups staged a protest in front of the United States Embassy, condemning the continued U.S. economic exploitation and political intervention primarily through large-scale foreign mining, demolition of homes and land-use conversion in various parts of the region. “The Aquino administration’s inability to assert national sovereignty and address the people’s clamor for genuine development only exposes its true interest of earning personal wealth and subservience to foreign powers leaving the people jobless, hungry and without access to social services,” Manalo said.

As a symbolic action of unresolved poverty, the groups staged a “Tanghalian ng Maralita” consisting of tuyo and rice in front of the Ninoy Aquino Monument at Makati City. Last October 16 was World Food Day, but the militants stress that under the Aquino government, every day is “World Foodless Day”.

Meanwhile, KASAMA-TK along with other militant groups is on their fourth day in staging a camp-out in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform in Quezon City in calling for genuine land reform. The peasant group also joined the militant youth group Anakbayan in their call to disqualify bogus party-list groups such as Akbayan that have “consistently deceived the marginalized they promised to represent”.

Orly Marcellana, spokesperson of the group, condemned Akbayan and other pseudo-progressive groups for  claiming that they even “represent the marginalized” well in fact the groups have always served as government machineries to implement bogus programs to deceive the struggling poor.

Marcellana highlighted Akbayan’s role in implementing the extended Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, a law implemented also during Cory Aquino’s term, which did well in preserving land ownership for the big-landed elites such as what the peasants of Silang, Cavite and Hacienda Yulo in Calamba City, Laguna can attest to. “If Akbayan should boast something, it should be that it has championed the Cojuangco-Aquino clan’s anti-poor and anti-peasant advocacy,” he stated.

In a separate statement, KASAMA-TK exposed the nature of 20 fake people’s organizations in Southern Tagalog, which include UNORKA, PAKISAMA, PARRDS, PARAGOS, PAMMBUKID-KA, KASAKA-TK, KMBP, CARET, AR NOW, CENTRO-SAKA and PEACE Foundation.

These groups “served as special agents of the government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to confuse the peasant masses and in maintaining the feudal and semi-feudal order in the countryside.”

The groups also staged a separate protest in front of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) for the P56.5 billion worth of funds for the “Poverty Reduction Roadmap of the Coconut Industry”. NAPC is currently headed by former Akbayan president Joel Rocomora.

“Such greed the Aquino government and Akbayan has! As if land-grabbing and land-use conversion are not enough, they even steal straight from the funds intended for the coconut farmers. No wonder the peasants’ anger cannot be extinguished. It is thus justified to disqualify Akbayan from the party-list elections!” Marcellana added.

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