Farmers stage 10-day protest on land reform

September 30, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – Militant farmer groups yesterday started a 10-day series of protest rallies against President Aquino for not addressing issues on land reform.

The farmer groups started the string of protest programs by burning pictures of President Aquino in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) yesterday morning. The succession of protest actions will culminate in a program near Mr. Aquino’s family home on Times Street in Quezon City and on Mendiola bridge in Manila on Oct. 8, the President’s 100th day in office.

“We tried to reach him, send him our demands, plead for fundamental reforms, but we were violently dispersed at Mendiola, and he mentioned nothing about land reform in his speeches, totally ignored us farmers and continued killing and arresting us,” said Axel Pinpin, secretary-general of Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK).

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) spokesman Antonio Flores said Mr. Aquino has no plans of serving the interest of farmers.

“Poor Filipinos are not his bosses, but the rich and powerful landlords. From this day onwards, we would be burning pictures of Aquino as symbol of our protest against his anti-peasant and anti-people policies,” Flores said.

During President Aquino’s inauguration last June 30, the groups held a rally in front of the DAR office to call for the distribution of parcels of lands in Hacienda Yulo and Hacienda Looc in Southern Tagalog and Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

KASAMA-TK said they have been displaced because their farmlands have been subjected to massive land use conversions.

The group is also calling for the distribution of Hacienda Roxas and Hacienda Puyat in Nasugbu, Batangas, Hacienda Agoncillo in Laurel town, Hacienda Zobel and lands in Barangay Hukay both in Calatagan, Batangas. Flores also denounced the continued implementation of Republic Act 9700 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPer) which “displaced countless peasants off their farms and preserved the control of landlords over vast lands.”

The groups said Mr. Aquino is intent on keeping family control over Hacienda Luisita.

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