Farmers demand land, help and justice

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Farmers and supporters march towards Mendiola to demand land, aid and justice, October 21, 2021. (Photo by Carlo Manalansan / Bulatlat)

By EMILY VITAL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – For more than half of his life, Angelito Lumapas, 68, has planted palay and vegetables. Agriculture has supported him and his seven children, but in recent years he and his fellow farmers in central Luzon have run into debt.

Lumapas d’Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) lamented that the price of bread per kilo is set between P10 and P13. The price of palay has fallen since the promulgation of the Rice Pricing Law, resulting in an influx of rice imported from neighboring countries.

The intrepid prediction of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) came true: that the rice pricing law “amounts to a death sentence for the local rice industry and rice farmers”.

Angelito Lumapas says farmers in central Luzon are even more destitute since the rice pricing law was enacted in 2019 (Photo by Carlo Manalansan / Bulatlat)

Lumapas joined the protest action led by KMP this morning, October 21, to call for land reform, aid and subsidies, and justice for victims of human rights violations. The protest was the culmination of a series of nationally coordinated activities over a month for the farmer’s month of October. The campaign commemorates the signing of
Presidential Decree (DP) 27 of October 21, 1972, of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Speaking during the protest action, KMP National President Danilo Ramos said PD 27 and the land reform programs that followed failed to break the land monopoly and pushed farmers more in misery.

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) exempts various agricultural lands from coverage, such as those with an eight percent slope. KMP said CARP’s total coverage of 5.4 million hectares only represents 44 percent of the 12.4 million hectares of cultivated land in the country, leaving seven million hectares beyond its reach.

As of August 2021, CARP had a total of 2.9 million beneficiaries, leaving some 10.75 million farmers under various government records outside of land reform.

The struggles of South Tagalog farmers for land

Farmers from Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Quezon and Batangas led by KASAMA-TK also joined the protest, highlighting several land disputes in the region.

KASAMA-TK revealed that Lupang Ramos and Lupang Javeliana in Dasmarinas and Aguinaldo Estate in Silang have been exempt from land reform coverage despite being productive agricultural land for decades.

“Farmers in Lupang Javeliana have even been told by local land reform officials that their cover notice was no longer valid simply because of a ‘system error’ in their digital records,” said Jess Miranda of KASAMA. -TK.

Meanwhile, at Lupang Kapdula in Dasmarinas, Cavite, the South Cavite Land Company Incorporated (SCLCI) is trying to displace 100 families plowing 155 hectares of land. The local farmers’ organization SAMAKA (Samahang Magbubukid sa Kapdula) demands the opening of a road from the farm to the market which has been forcibly closed since August by guards hired by the SCLCI. They are also calling for coverage of land reform after the DAR revoked it in October 2020.

Determining who receives land is also an issue, the group said. In Lupang Paseco and Pujalte in Palawan, farmers are challenging the Land Reform Department’s allocation of 2,152 hectares of land to 3,000 “phantom beneficiaries,” including officials and soldiers who are not true cultivators of the land. Earth.

“Our hearts are filled with frustration and rage at the utter destitution our food producers face under Duterte’s regime as he brags about land reform among his so-called legacies,” Miranda said in a statement.

Resist land conversion and speculation in central Luzon

Farmers in Bulacan, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija demand that agricultural land, especially rice land, be conserved and protected against conversion to other uses.

KMP said central Luzon, the country’s rice basket, has become a land conversion hot spot. The construction of several ‘smart city’ projects such as the 2,500 hectare Bulacan Airfield and 9,450 hectare Clark Green Town, transport infrastructure and dams in the region threaten the livelihoods of thousands of people. ‘farmers.

KMP has also criticized the militarization of farming communities as in the case of San José del Monte (SJDM) where 350 farming families are threatened with eviction from 700 hectares of farmland.

“Land grabber Greggy Araneta harasses farming communities in SJDM’s seven farming barangays. His armed henchmen forcibly closed a road from the farm to the market and repeatedly destroyed our crops and threatened us with violence, ”said Cecil Rapiz, head of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan (AMB).

Araneta plans to transform the fruit and vegetable farms into an exclusive residential area, anticipating rising land prices as construction of MRT 7 nears completion.

Help and grant now

The pandemic has worsened the economic situation of farmers. Lumapas said many of them have gone bankrupt or made just enough to keep them posted on the next harvest.

Amid their struggles, Lumapas said they had not received much needed help from the government. Only four in ten farmers in central Luzon were able to access fertilizer from the agriculture ministry, he said.

Lumapas echoes KMP’s demand for a P15,000 (US $ 295.35) agricultural production subsidy.

“The rice pricing law should be dropped. Instead of importing rice, the administration should provide subsidies to boost local production, ”Lumapas said. Bulatlat. (https://www.bulatlat.com)


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