Philippines - “Historic blunder!”—40 years of war and landlessness, peasants call to end bogus land reform
Militant farmers protest action was cancelled due to heavy rains and flooding all-over Metro Manila. Farmers from Southern Tagalog together with farm workers from Hacienda Luisita is set to hold a protest rally today in Mendiola to call for the junking of government’s agrarian reform program.
Instead Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas immediately called for Sagip Kanayunan, a relief operation that the group is extending to victims of typhoons and other disasters.
But the bad weather never stop the group in expressing rage against the “anti-peasant and anti-people landlord President Noynoy Aquino’s patronage of the bogus land reform as this day, August 7, marks the 3rd year of the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER),” this according to Orly Marcellana, spokesperson of Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK).
“It is quite ironic that the 40-year land reform which was implemented to supposedly deliver social justice in the countryside caused a coeval civil war. With this kind of program pushed by a landlord and resisted by farmers, who would call this farce a land reform? This is a historic blunder!” exclaims Marcellana.
“If we would take into account late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ PD 27 implemented in 1972, the Philippines would have the longest, most costly and most lethal land reform program in Asia.” Marcellana continues.
Marcellana points out that since then the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has only distributed about a third of the agricultural estates covered by the reform program.
“DAR has not decisively broken the spine of land monopoly in the country. The first phase of CARP that was to cover estates of 50 hectares and above took 23 years to achieve less than 50% of its target. In 2014, DAR will ‘officially’ cease to exist,” the peasant leader explains, “and the last 2 years of the Aquino Regime, in the absence of a genuine land reform law, would practically put the agrarian question in a state of comatose.”
Just recently, the president promised the completion of the whole program in just 24 months, which the peasant group dismissed as ‘hogwash'.
“Noynoy can’t just blame this again to his predecessors,” says Marcellana, “the Luisita affair proves that the landlord president has a lot to answer to the Filipino people. It has been very clear to us that this current regime frenetically drives the bogus reform program to its preordained failure. His stubbornness would aggravate social unrest.”
Marcellana cites Ibon Foundation’s 2011 Yearend Briefing to support the group’s claim of an escalating civil war in the rural areas due to the failure of two subsequent land reform programs in a span of 4 decades.
According to the think-tank’s yearend report, there were more than 2,070 incidents of armed clashes between NPA guerillas and state security forces since 2001, resulting to a total of no less than 2,643 dead and 2,136 wounded on the government side.
Also, since 2001 an estimated 2,000 civilian deaths were attributed to state atrocities in the course of counter-insurgency operations in lieu of the government’s preferred mode of settlement of agrarian disputes.
The group asserted that CARPER only made matters worse.
CARPER was passed into law in 2009 by the much hated Arroyo regime, lobbied by the yellow scalawag Akbayan, to patch up the failures of the elapsed 20 years of CARP within 5 years, “however,” Marcellana includes in his statement, “data shows that 2 years before and after CARPER was passed, armed hostilities rose dramatically—from 64 clashes in 2007 to 347 in 2011. That’s a 542% increase in the rate of recurrence of firefight in just 4 years! Now, we ask Mr. Aquino: how much would you like this to rise in the next 4 years of your government?”
“This makes the current Philippine land reform program the costliest, not only in terms of the hundreds of billions of pesos spent on compensation for the landlords, but on military personnel and war materiel. The Philippine government really paid dear because of its subservience to the landed elite. Even much needed funds for social services are being funneled to the welfare department’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to augment the military’s psychological warfare component of the Oplan Bayanihan,” Marcellana says further.
Militant peasant groups vow to continue to demonstrate their opposition to the bogus land reform program hoping to gather vast support from other sectors and advance the struggle for genuine land reform. #