LEGAZPI CITY, ALBAY—More than 1,400 farmers convened during the 8th National Congress of the broadest alliance of the peasant sector in the country with more than two hundred thousand members, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). Dubbed as “MAGTAGUMPAY! Palawakin at patatagin ang Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas! Paigtingin ang pakikibaka para sa tunay na reporma sa lupa at pambansang industriyalisasyon!”, farmer-representatives from the fifteen different regions in the Philippines gathered to forward their call for a free land distribution and an end to land monopolization.
The said congress was attended by Agrarian Reform Sec. and former KMP National Chairperson Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, National Anti-Poverty Commission Lead Convenor Liza Maza, Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao and Kilusang Mayo Uno Sec. Gen. Jerome Adonis who gave their solidarity messages during the first day of the event.
Farmers harvest victories; ready for greater struggles
After decades of fighting and calling for the downfall of the feudal lords After decades of fighting and calling for the downfall of the feudal lords in the country, farmers have already gained countless victories and are yet to gather a lot more as they continue holding organized mass actions in all of the regions in the Philippines according to the national peasant alliance.
International League of Peoples’ Struggle Chairperson Jose Maria Sison, in his solidarity message, said that farmers through the leadership of KMP remained intact and are now even stronger despite continuous threats from the despotic landlords and military troops which includes harassment, intimidation and killings of farmer-activists. National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultants Wilma Austria-Tiamzon and Benito Tiamzon also expressed their highest salute to KMP for always pioneering the need for a strong peasant movement in the country.
It can be recalled that Hacienda Luisita have recently been placed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), which will pave the way for the distribution to farmers who for a long time fought for their land grabbed by the Cojuangcos. The organized mass action in Lapanday – MARBAI also led to a fruitful harvest. Just this year, irrigation was declared free and is already being implemented by the National Irrigation Authority (NIA). Agrarian Reform Secretary Mariano also passed countless administrative orders in favor of the farmers in his first year of service, but these, according to him, are still limited as landlords holding big positions in the government actively interrupts the full institutionalization of these orders.
Mariano, in his speech, reiterated that there is a need for the farmers to push the present reactionary government to give in to their demands. “All of the victories we harvested are the fruits of our never-ending struggle”, Mariano said.
On the 8th historic gathering of farmer-leaders throughout the Philippines, all chapters of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas once again affirmed to advance the fight of the peasant sector as they play their role in leading the of the mass movement in the country.
Newly-elected KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos, in his closing remarks, held the farmer’s symbolic bolo as he chanted “Lupa ay laya!” (Land is freedom!). “Ang lupa ay hindi hinihingi. Ang lupa ay ipinaglalaban. (We don’t beg for our land. We fight for it.)”, Ramos concluded.
EV peasant alliance to launch more farmer movements
Regional peasant alliance in Eastern Visayas, Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (Sagupa – SB) which have been organizing farmers for twenty-eight years, will be launching more intensified and higher level of mass actions to shake the feudal lords and bureaucrat capitalists in Region VIII who have been putting the farmers’ lives in “misery” according to Sagupa – SB Sec. Gen. and former member of KMP National Council Nestor Lebico.
“Majority of the more than 700,000 hectares of land in Eastern Visayas is being owned and controlled by the region’s ruling elite which can be counted in numbers only”, Lebico said. He cited some of the major haciendas in the region such as the 704-hectare hacienda MAIC in San Isidro, Leyte and Hacienda Innaki A. Larrazabal (IAL) in Calubian, Leyte which measures up to 2,012 hectares. The widest haciendas in EV are found mostly on the northern part of Leyte.
“We are targeting to have these haciendas distributed to our farmers the soonest possible and this means more intensified protests and mass actions in the coming months”, he added.
Aside from their struggle against land monopolization, Sagupa – SB is also currently forwarding the demands of farm workers to an increased minimum wage both for sugar and non-sugar farm workers. EV farm workers are also currently affected by the agricultural liberation in the region, which is part of the government’s Yolanda rehabilitation plan. “We are not against the distribution of farm machineries but it has to be patterned with the overall situation of the peasant sector in the region wherein seven out of ten farmers in Eastern Visayas still own no land”, Lebico stressed.
The progressive peasant organization then reiterated that in the current semi-colonial semi-feudal system, victory lies not in Duterte’s hands, but in the united actions of the farmers all over the country who will be getting the land they deserve to own, wave by wave.