Archive for the ‘agricultural’ Category

GARB against land-grabbing by aliens

January 15, 2009

We are extremely alarmed at this growing new trend of international land-grabbing by resource-hungry nations, such as China, South Korea and the Middle Eastern countries.

The only protection we can see now — in fact it is already in Congress — is the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB), or House Bill 3059, a bill written by us peasants to protect our right to land and achieve food security for our country. It will ensure that our lands will be used for the benefit of the majority of the Filipino people and not just for the few moneyed elite.

Here in the Bicol region, two out of three farmers do not own the land they till. This jibes with the national data that seven in 10 farmers are landless. We have also received reports that foreign corporations are targeting thousands of hectares of agricultural lands in the region, particularly in the provinces of Albay and Camarines Sur, for biofuel plantation. Now if the global land grabbing spree is to reach us in full force, there would be no farmers left in Bicol.

Considering the push of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime for Charter change and the extension of the fake Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), the “extinction” of the Filipino farmer is not far-fetched and we can say goodbye to food self-sufficiency for our country. Charter change will allow 100-percent foreign ownership of land, and CARP has been inutile at best and is even used as an excuse for rampant land-grabbing by both local and foreign corporations.

We are urging Congress to immediately pass GARB and junk CARP and Charter change. GARB will be our last line of defense in our efforts to protect our lands against this new type of invasion and it will be a big step forward for our economic prosperity.

FELIX PAZ, chair, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Bikol (KMP-Bikol), Barangay Alcala, Daraga, Albay

Farmers go online to oust DAR chief

January 2, 2009

By Alcuin Papa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:47:00 01/02/2009

Filed Under: Government, Agrarian Reform, Golf club mauling incident, Internet

MANILA, Philippines—Their hands are rough and covered with calluses from working the earth with plowshares and rudimentary farm implements. But this did not prevent some 65 farmers from going online to sign a petition for the ouster of Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman and for a revamp of the department.

“Some of us had a hard time working the keyboard. Our hands are already hard and stiff from using our plowshares all our lives,” said Romeo Olaes, president of the Hacienda Yulo Farmers Alliance based in Laguna.

It is a new and unfamiliar step in the farmers’ campaign for genuine land reform, one that eschews strongly worded placards and noisy rallies. But the resolve of the farmers never faltered, Olaes said.

“The DAR has never supported the farmers in their struggle. All the time that he [Pangandaman] has been there, the department has never produced good results for the farmers,” Olaes said, adding that more farmers have indicated their desire to sign the online petition.

The Hacienda Yulo farmers are calling on the DAR to void an order exempting from land reform 3,256 hectares of the hacienda’s 7,100 hectares, said Vangie Mendoza, spokesperson for the farmers.

Exemption order

Mendoza said the exemption order was first handed down in 1993 to pave the way for the conversion of the land for industrial and commercial purposes. But no development has been undertaken while the farmers have been deprived of their livelihood, she said.

The online campaign for the ouster of Pangandaman was also partly inspired by the reported involvement of Pangandaman’s sons in a brawl with members of the De la Paz family at the Valley Golf and Country Club in Antipolo City last week.

According to the text of the petition, posted on http://www.petitiononline.com, the Antipolo incident “revealed how gross power can make of officials without the moorings of modesty and decency.”

“The incident between the Pangandamans and the De la Pazes reminds us of government officials’ abuse of power, including converting agriculture-productive lands into many golf courses nationwide. In the case of golf courses constructed within the Yulo landholdings as well as Valley Golf in Antipolo, farmers are disenfranchised of their right to own lands,” the petition read. “Since last year, we have called for the resignation of Mr. Pangandaman as DAR secretary… We urge the public to join us in this call. The farmers and the public do not deserve this kind of leader.”

In a phone interview, Pangandaman refused to comment on the petition, except to say “I am not resigning. I don’t want to comment further. It may just prolong the issue.”

Members of the Peace Foundation, who are supporting the 400 Hacienda Yulo farmers, on Thursday facilitated the farmers’ entry into the digital world. The farmers were given a crash course in the use of the computer and the Internet at their makeshift camp in front of the DAR offices in Quezon City.

The foundation’s Dong Calmada said the farmers were interested and attentive, “but the first three farmers had a tough time with the keyboard. So after that, we gave the others assistance.”

He said they brought along a laptop, a wireless Internet connection and a projector for their lecture.

“But we had some problems with the connection. So we are typing out all the information and will upload the petition later,” Calmada explained.

The activity was also kicked off by a Mass celebrated by activist priest Robert Reyes.

Homily

In his homily, the activist priest said it would be useful for the farmers to learn to use the Internet. “Wouldn’t it be nice if all farmers’ organizations like yours will have Internet connection?” he said, to the amusement of the farmers.

Reyes also said their online petition was an expression of their anger at Pangandaman and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“Do not apologize for your anger. Don’t let anyone take that anger away from you. Your anger comes from God, who together with you, is also angry,” the priest said.

The CARP law was supposed to expire last Wednesday but Congress passed a resolution extending it for another six months. But the terms of the extension do not compel landowners to give up their land. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has yet to sign the resolution.

CARP Extension to Worsen Landlessness Problem

December 28, 2008

Members of the progressive party-list bloc at the House of Representatives walked out of the session hall, December 17, as their colleagues adopted Joint Resolution No. 19. They said they decided not to be a party to the landlord-dominated House of Representatives’ “pretensions, and deception of the Filipino peasantry and the people” in extending the ‘bogus’ Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), which was further emasculated with the removal of the compulsory acquisition scheme.

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
(Bulatlat.com)

Members of the progressive party-list bloc at the House of Representatives walked out of the session hall, December 17 as their colleagues adopted Joint Resolution No. 19. They said they decided not to be a party to the landlord-dominated House of Representatives’ “pretensions and deception of the Filipino peasantry and the people” in extending the ‘bogus’ Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), which was further emasculated with the removal of the compulsory acquisition scheme.

Enacted on June 10, 1988, Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law was supposed to be implemented for 10 years. Falling short of its targets, the Agrarian Reform Law was extended by the Ramos administration for another ten years. It expired for the second time this June 2008.


Militant groups join farmers in calling for the scrapping of CARP extension . (Photo by Ronalyn Olea)

In a joint statement, Anakpawis Representative and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines) Chairperson Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño Jr. and Gabriela Women’s Party list Representatives Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan, said Joint Resolution 19 removed the compulsory acquisition scheme and deferred the acquisition of lands with pending notices of coverage, like the Arroyo lands in Negros.

“This is a shotgun legislation that has killed the anti-peasant CARP. This also further exposed the real character of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who certified the joint resolution as urgent, as the chief political representative of big landlords,” they said.

The legislators also condemned Arroyo’s allies in the House of Representatives for denying Mariano his right to interpellate during the presentation by the sponsors of the joint resolution.

Unconstitutional

In a separate statement, Danilo Ramos, KMP secretary general said the joint resolution extending CARP for another six months as ‘grossly unconstitutional and morally bankrupt.’

“Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile said CARP is legally defective and that the Upper House decided to sign the resolution extending CARP for another six months to undergo a thorough review of the agrarian reform program. What kind of political and moral attitude is that? If CARP extension is legally defective, then throw it in the dustbin of history…” said Ramos.

Bogus CARP


Nestor Villanueva, one of the farmers from Hacienda Yulo, supports HB 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB). (Photo by Ronalyn Olea)

In an interview with Bulatlat, Nestor Villanueva, 51, a farmer in Hacienda Yulo in Canlubang, Laguna said he and the other farmers have not benefited from the CARP.

Villanueva said their ancestors have been tilling the land in Hacienda Yulo since 1910.

He said that during the Aquino administration, they fought for the distribution of land but the Hacienda Yulo was exempted from CARP coverage as the landlord declared the land as non-agricultural.

In 1990, the Department of Justice issued Opinion No. 44 that stated that all lands classified before 1988 as non-agricultural are exempted from coverage of land reform.

The local government, said Villanueva, also declared the land as a forest reserve and watershed. He said, however, that a subdivision and a golf course have been built inside the hacienda.

Villanueva is among millions of farmers who have remained landless under the CARP. The KMP said the CARP is the source of all the troubles of landless farmers over the last 20 years.

The KMP and Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya or National Unity of the Fisherfolk Movement in the Philippines) said CARP has provided the legal basis for the denial of farmers’ land rights, and the landgrabbing spree of big landlords inside Fort Magsaysay and Hacienda Luisita, courtesy of the law’s fatal flaws and wide loopholes. “The 3,100 hectares in Fort Magsaysay were cornered by the landlord syndicates, while the 6,453 hectares in Hacienda Luisita were kept untouchable because of CARP.”

Citing the recent study made by the Sentro Para Sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra or Center for Genuine Agrarian Reform), KMP and Pamalakaya said that on September 2007 the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) reported that 5,049 emancipation patents (Eps) and 103,392 certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) were canceled, covering 204,579 hectares of land acquired under the agrarian reform program.

Both groups asserted that the figures they cited did not yet include pending cases of cancellation of EPs and CLOAs before the DAR. They noted that the agrarian reform agency, up to now, has been unable to determine how many land titles were canceled or revoked by DAR.

The same Sentra study showed that landlords all over the country ‘profited immensely from the implementation of CARP.’ Citing data from the Land Bank of the Philippines, Sentra revealed that from 1972 to 2005, the compensation to 83,203 landowners for 1,348, 758 hectares has already reached P 41.6 billion ($833,500,300 at the current exchange rate of $1=P46.91) in cash and bonds, or an average of P 500,463 ($10,668) per landlord. In 2005, P 4.6 billion ($83,507,306 at the 2005 exchange rate of $1=P55.085) went to the compensation of landlords.

The two groups said the Congress should have instead passed House Bill 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill authored by the late Anakpawis party list Representative Crispin Beltran and co-authored Mariano, Ocampo, Casiño, Maza and Ilagan. The bill seeks to cover all agricultural lands and distribute these lands to landless farmers across-the-nation for free.

Worse

In an interview with Bulatlat, Mariano said the joint resolution has further worsened the ‘bogus’ CARP.

He said that the resolution effectively removed even the token distribution of land under CARP.

The joint resolution extends the CARP for another six months, stating that private owners of agricultural land may enter into voluntary offer to sell (VOS) or voluntary land transfer (VLT) schemes. Mariano said it is unlikely for landlords to offer their land to landless farmers. “Even if they do, landlords can easily withdraw from the VOS,” he said.

Land grabbing, eviction

The legislators further said, “This sham joint resolution further strengthens the landlords’ monopoly and control over vast tracts of agricultural lands in the country and will surely lead to the massive eviction of peasants and land-grabbing in the countryside.”

Mariano explained, “Mapupuno ang kamay ng DAR ng petitions for exemptions, land-use conversion, cancellation of CLOAs and EPs.” (DAR will be flooded with petitions for exemptions, land-use conversion, cancellation of CLOAs and EPs.

He said landlords could also pressure local government units to issue zoning ordinances declaring agricultural land as non-agricultural or enter into corporative farming and other non-land transfer schemes.

Under the CARP, the KMP and Pamalakaya revealed, the scope for land distribution had been eroded from time to time. From the original 10.3 million hectares in 1988, the scope was adjusted down by 21.76 percent to 8.1 million hectares.

Globalization, Charter change

Mariano said that the VOS and VLT schemes conform with the World Bank model, “The willing to sell, willing to buy formula without government intervention is what the World Bank calls market-assisted land reform,” he explained.

“This suits globalization. Eventually, 100 percent foreign ownership of land would be allowed through Charter change,” he added.

Mariano said that after six months, foreign corporations and local landlords would have lorded over vast tracts of land, leaving little or nothing at all for distribution to landless farmers.

Attacks against farmers

Mariano said further that the CARP extension would intensify attacks against farmers. “Landlords will continue to criminalize farmers fighting for their land. Killings will also increase.”

He added, “Sa loob ng six months, ilan ang magsasakang pwedeng paalisin o paslangin? Karanasan natin iyan eh.” (In a span of six months, how many farmers would be evicted or killed? This has been our experience.)

According to human rights group Karapatan, 467 peasants have been killed under the Arroyo administration, while 10 were killed this year.

Mariano said that while the government uses bogus agrarian reform programs as a means of deception, repressive measures are also used against farmers.

Lessons

The peasant-lawmaker said that the landlord-dominated House Representatives proved once again that it is anti-peasant.

Mariano said the peasants have to continue relying on themselves in the struggle for genuine land reform in the countryside. He called on farmers to draw lessons from the struggles of farmers from the Hacienda Luisita, Hacienda Looc, Central Mindanao University in Bukinon, among others.

He said that amid threats of eviction, these farmers asserted their right to stay in the land they have been tilling for decades. The Hacienda Luisita farmers, Mariano added, have tilled more than 1,000 hectares of land in defiance of the Cojuangco landlords.

As Villanueva, the farmer from Hacienda Yulo, puts it, “Sa pamamagitan ng lakas ng magsasaka, maipapatupad ang tunay na reporma sa lupa. Kung taumbayan mismo ang may gusto, walang hindi kakayanin.” (Only through the strength of peasants would genuine agrarian reform be implemented. If the people so desires, nothing is impossible.)

ROXAS SAYS Agri funds misuse continues post-Bolante Roxas urges probe post-harvest funds

December 27, 2008

INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:47:00 12/27/2008

Filed Under: Graft & Corruption, Agriculture, Joc-joc Bolante

MANILA, Philippines — The alleged misuse of agriculture funds continues in the Department of Agriculture even after its former undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante left the agency, Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas said Saturday.

“Hindi nagtapos ang pangungurakot noong umalis si Joc-Joc sa DA. Itinuloy ng administrasyon ni Pangulong Arroyo ang maling paggamit ng pera ng taumbayan at nakita sa imbesigasyon na umabot ang kalokohan sa NABCOR (The corrupt practices didn’t end with Joc-Joc’s departure from the DA. The administration of President Arroyo continued its misuse of the people’s money and investigation showed it spread to NABCOR),” the Liberal Party president said in a press statement.

Bolante is linked to the P728-million fertilizer fund scam; the money intended for farmers’ fertilizer allegedly went instead into the campaign of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004.

Citing the 2007 report of the Commission on Audit, Roxas said some P300 million was disbursed by the DA for acquisition of post-harvest facilities, but these could not be validated by the auditing agency.

On top of this, he said, P95.167 million of post-harvest projects purchased by Nabcor were not used by farmers for being inapplicable and outmoded.

The 2007 CoA report also showed that P734.255 million was transferred from the DA to Nabcor, which in turn charged a 10-percent administrative fee when handing these to nongovernmental organizations and people’s organizations, thus reducing the amount benefiting these groups.

Aside from these alleged anomalies, the DA had taken P225.22 million from the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund and transferred this to the Nabcor for the implementation of a “Competitive Food Processing and Cold Chain Operation” project, despite Nabcor’s insufficient capability and manpower to carry this out.

“Hindi pwede na basta-basta ang ganitong paglipat ng pondo mula sa DA papuntang Nabcor at mga iba’t ibang grupo. Kailangan natin ng accountability at transparency dito (We can’t simply allow these fund transfers from the DA to Nabcor and other groups. We need accountability and transparency here),” he said.

Roxas said he has filed Senate Resolution 824 to look into the transactions of Nabcor which the Commission on Audit had found to be anomalous.

“Kung gusto nating gumanda ang buhay ng ating mga magsasaka at pakainin ang bawat Pilipino, siguraduhin muna natin na wasto ang paggamit ng pondo ng gobyerno (If we want to raise our agriculture sector and feed every Filipino, we have to ensure the proper use of government funds),” he said.

Militants ask Congress to probe Fort Magsaysay ‘land scam’

December 27, 2008

The militant groups Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) urged Congress to subject to a full blown in investigation the alleged land scam involving 3,1000 hectares of land inside Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City.

In a joint statement, KMP and Pamalakaya called the Fort Magsaysay case “the biggest land scam of the millennium courtesy of the super bankruptcy of CARP, the obsessed landlords, the military warlords and the running syndicate inside the Department of Agrarian Reform”.

“This is a lucid testimony why the 20 year old agrarian reform program is nothing but an exercise in futility and should not be extended,” they added.

KMP Secretary General Danilo Ramos asked lawmakers to conduct separate or joint congressional inquiry on the Fort Magsaysay land case before Congress goes on Christmas break, and stop working on the extension of CARP.

Ramos said the control of the 3,100-hectare area inside the fort is being contested by rich landlords in Central Luzon and the military “warlords” despite the fact that the farmers are the real owners of the lands.

He said that the farmers hold certificates of land ownership award as proofs of their legitimate claims to the contested lands.

Meanwhile, Major Gen. Ralph Villanueva, commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division, said that the military plans to use the disputed land as a housing site for retired and active military personnel.

Villanueva said the 3,100 hectare land has not been properly segregated because that required an act by Congress and not through a mere executive order.

He said that only six of the 300 Aeta families relocated there have remained and farmers interviewed by military investigators confirmed that they were there as guards against illegal entrants. ###

(NuevaEcijaJournal)

COA: NV purchase of P24-M cement, farm inputs ‘defective’

December 24, 2008

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – The Commission on Audit said the provincial government’s purchase of P24 million worth of construction materials and farm inputs was “defective” and did not conform to normal procurement procedures.

But Gov. Luisa Lloren Cuaresma denied irregularities in last year’s procurement of P24,247,439 worth of cement and farm inputs, saying the transactions were “aboveboard.”

The provincial government said the COA findings and recommendations would guide it to implement stricter measures in its procurement system.

According to COA, the purchase did not conform with Republic Act 9184, which governs the government’s procurement and bidding regulations, resulting in the “failure of attaining a more transparent system of procurement.”

In its report, the COA said the provincial government resorted to “direct contracting as an alternative method” in procuring the construction materials from Norma’s General Merchandise and agriculture inputs from Igorot Buying Station, “although these did not conform with any one of the conditions provided in RA 9184.”

The provincial government’s justification in procuring the items, it said, “may be applicable to certain very urgent conditions but could not be taken as a basis to circumvent the real intent of the law.”

But Cuaresma said the two dealers were also the sources of other local contractors and suppliers, and that they offered the cheapest cement and farm inputs at the time of the purchase.

She added the transactions were advantageous to the government in terms of prompt delivery.

Provincial administrator Manuel Taborra said the dealers were the only ones capable of delivering the required volume then. — CL(NorthernPhilippineTimes)

Imported veggies floodmarkets; Benguet farmers face bleak Christmas

December 24, 2008

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Farmers’ groups of this vegetable-producing province face a bleak Christmas saying influx of imported agricultural caused heavy losses to them and traders.

This, as personnel of the Bureau of Plant Industry, the Bureau of Customs, Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group, and representatives of vegetable growers conducted last week surprise visits to cold-storage facilities and stalls in Divisoria, Manila to look into the reported influx of smuggled fresh vegetables in the country.

The visit was in response to complaints of Benguet farmers that imported and smuggled vegetables have been flooding the markets.

During the visit, the three government teams confiscated 67 cartons of smuggled fresh ginger from one of the stall owners.

The government does not allow the importation of fresh ginger, and the BPI has not issued a single permit for its importation.

Plant Industry Director Joel S. Rudinas said the vigilance of the BPI’s Plant Quarantine Service Office to intercept smuggled commodities has resulted in the confiscation of 60 40-foot container vans and re-export this year to Hong Kong of one 40-foot container van containing fresh brocolli.

These actions, Rudinas said, led to the blacklisting of five importers.

The BPI director confirmed that only few permits for the importation of fresh vegetables are being issued to meet the needs of high-end markets such as hotels, airlines, and upscale supermarkets.

Comparing the figures this year with those in the same period last year, there was slight increase in the number of permits issued for fresh vegetables, the BPI said.

Meanwhile, affected traders are getting their vegetable supplies at the trading post in La Trinidad.

Officers of the Benguet Farmers Federation and its chapters in the 13 towns in the province said last week traders buying locally grown crops have reduced sharply their purchases, resulting to huge losses.

The most affected locally grown vegetables by the influx of the imported crops are carrots and potatoes.

The federation reported the presence of cheap imported vegetables in Metro Manila markets, saying this would lead to a bleak Christmas for the farmers as their produce would no longer be purchased by the traders.

The group said imported vegetables began flooding the markets since last month on a staggered basis, and now its negative effects are being felt in the province.

Imported vegetables are sold not only in Metro Manila markets but also in Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Boracay, and other urban areas in Visayas and Mindanao.

The officers said storage areas in Metro Manila included those in Tondo, Divisoria and Malabon, where huge warehouses are located.

Many traders have reduced the volume of their purchases by at least 50 percent or from 1,000 kilos to a little less than 500 kilos.

Due to the competition between cheap imported vegetables and the locally produced ones, the traders will continue to reduce their purchases in the coming days, the federation said.

The group said unregulated importation and smuggling of agricultural commodities in the past years are being blamed for the moribund situation of the local agriculture industry, which is major source of livelihood for at least 250,000 people. — Dexter A See and BR(NorthernPhilippineTimes)

Ebola virus also found in Manaoag hog farm

December 22, 2008

D. A. PRESCRIBES QUARANTINE

DOH: No reason to panic

MANAOAG —The Department of Agriculture (DA) has confirmed that the dreaded ebola virus, blamed for human deaths in Africa some years ago, was found among hogs in a piggery farm in Barangay Parian here.

DA Regional Director Cipriano Santiago, however, clarified that the virus that has infected numerous swine in the 30-hectare Lambino Farm, Ebola Reston virus, presented a low health risk for humans and was different from the deadly African variety.

The virus found in the hogs was determined to be non-pathogenic to humans nor can it be transmitted from one pig to another.

An inventory of the infected hogs in the area is currently being carried out by personnel from the DA office, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), and the Department of Health (DOH), through the Municipal Health Office.

The Lambino Farm was the fourth farm where hogs have been confirmed by the BAI to have been infected with the Ebola Reston virus.

Santiago said there were two other piggery farms affected in Bulacan and another in Nueva Ecija, all of which have been quarantined to prevent the spread of the virus.

Santiago, along with officials of BAI and DOH regional officers, rushed to Manaoag Thursday morning upon hearing of the report in the two provinces to inspect the farm and impose the quarantine regulation.

“If a piggery farm is quarantined, it means that no hog would be allowed to be brought out to be sold to the market nor are we allowing new stocks to come in,” said Santiago who ordered an inventory of the hogs being raised in the farm.

He said a checkpoint manned by BAI personnel would be set up to make sure that the piggery farm will comply with the regulations.

Dr. Raymond Veloria, municipal health officer of Manaoag, said initial inventory showed the piggery farm has 14 sows, 11 boars, 53 growers, 70, weanlings and 217 piglets for fattening.

Of these, 62 piglets examined by the Tropical Disease Institute of the Philippines (TDPI) of the DOH were found to have been downed by diarrhea or loose bowel movement.

Veloria said the quarantine may last from one to two months but Santiago assured that the restrictions will be lifted soon after all the hogs in the farm test negative of the ebola virus. —LM(SundayPunch)

Study says rice subsidy program punishes poor

December 20, 2008

MANILA (AFP) – The Philippine government’s mammoth rice subsidy program hurts the poor people it is supposed to helping, according to a study published yesterday.

The report called for reforms to the program, which ate up 2.5 percent of the 2008 gross domestic product and turned the monopoly rice importer National Food Authority (NFA) into the largest loss-making state firm.

The NFA has a mandate to provide low prices of the cereal, provide price support to rice farmers and smooth out price swings mainly by the “untargeted transfer of cheap, mostly imported rice to households” of the world’s biggest rice-importing nation.

But Shikha Jha, of the by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and Aashish Mehta, of the University of California, found that between 1996 and 2003, Filipinos bought rice at prices that were “almost twice as high” as world prices.

This was because the state barred private rice imports and then the NFA imported “less than that required to maintain the target price, which is set below the world price,” the report found.

While a larger segment of the poor bought subsidized NFA rice than the better off, this was due mainly to the promotion of an “inferior quality of rice” which the wealthier also bought to feed their “domestic helpers and pets,”  it added.

NFA rice imports and price subsidies were ramped up significantly this year due to soaring prices, with first-half imports rising nearly four-fold to 858 million dollars, the study said.

The World Bank announced this week that it had lent Manila 200 million dollars to support the government’s increased food subsidy program to the poor amid a global financial crisis.

The study said the 167 billion-peso (3.6 billion-dollar) subsidy program had been a drain on government coffers — it buys rice from local farmers at a nine percent premium to the market price, and sells rice to consumers at prices 18 percent cheaper than commercial rice.

Every dollar of rice subsidy transferred to consumers costs the government about 2.2 dollars, the study estimated, a benefit-cost ratio that it said doubled to 4.4 dollars per dollar of subsidy because of diversion to the regular rice market.

The study found the subsidy was poorly targeted, with Manila receiving about 25 percent, the same as the entire southern region of Mindanao, which has the Philippines’ highest incidence of poverty.

While the NFA subsidy program “is an important safety net in the Philippines,” the study said its actual scope was tiny, reaching “only about 16 percent of the population” in a country where two in five people live on two dollars a day or less.(MindanaoTimes)

Costly, Incomplete Irrigation Projects Being Paid for by Gov’t, Farmers at Losing End

October 28, 2008

Delays in government irrigation projects, and unresolved inquiries and cases of corruption pertaining to these are costing taxpayers millions since 2002. But in the end, it is the small farmers bear the brunt of corruption, said IBON Foundation Research Head Jose Enrique Africa.

BY RONALYN OLEA
Bulatlat

Delays in government irrigation projects, and unresolved inquiries and cases of corruption pertaining to these are costing taxpayers millions since 2002. But in the end, it is the small farmers who bear the brunt of corruption, said IBON Foundation Research Head Jose Enrique Africa.

In his presentation at the launching of the Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report (GCR) 2008: Corruption in the Water Sector, Africa cited two irrigation projects rigged with irregularities – the Casecnan Multipurpose Irrigation and Power Project (CMIPP) in Nueva Ecija and the Talibon Small Reservoir Irrigation Project in Bohol. Said projects discussed in the Philippine case studies were presented by Africa to the GCR 2008.

Irregularities

The CMIPP has two components – a $675 million build-operate-transfer (BOT) project that diverts water from two rivers, runs this through a hydroelectric power plant, and collects it in a dam; and a P6.8 billion irrigation component for distributing water to 53,000 hectares of rice land and for rehabilitating irrigation systems for 55,100 hectares more.

Africa identified controversies in the approval of the project. He said that an inter-agency committee,

which evaluated the project, found the CMIPP not financially viable. “They found that over the 20 year life span of the project, they estimated it would be able to deliver water only about 53 percent of the time.”

He also revealed that an agreement was executed even before going through the appropriate processes. The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) executed an agreement with the contractor CE Casecnan Water and Energy Company, Inc., a local subsidiary of California Energy International, in November 1994.

“It was controversial because it was only submitted to the appropriate government body, the Investment Coordination Committee of the NEDA (National Development Authority) three months later, in January, 1995, and the approval was actually made only in May 1995.”

Africa also pointed out that the project was unsolicited and therefore, under the law, it should not qualify for government guarantees.

He said the implementation was also problematic as project delays were quite significant. Although the target completion of the project was supposed to be in 1998, construction for the irrigation component only started substantially in 2003. It was supposed to be completed by 2008.

Africa said, “The delay is a problem because of government guarantees. The government has been paying water delivery fees since 2002 even as the project has not yet been completed.”

The Philippine government had paid $320 million in guaranteed water delivery fees from 2002-2006. “This was paid despite the fact that less than one and a half percent of the land to be irrigated by the project has been irrigated. A total of 50, 000 hectares have yet to be irrigated.”

Africa blamed the ‘onerous’ contract with the Casecnan CE that obliges the NIA to pay water delivery fees of a minimum guaranteed dollar-denominated amount for 20 years whether or not any water is actually delivered or any farmland is actually irrigated.

Over the same period, Africa said, the total gross revenuesof NIA was just $170 million but they had to pay the CE Casecnan $320 million. The Bureau of Treasury has been paying these water fees on behalf of NIA and considers these as loan to NIA.

In 2006, NIA paid $77.2 million to CE Casecnan.

Missing dam

Meanwhile, the P199.4-million Talibon Small Reservoir Project (TSRP) in Talibon, Bohol was supposed to irrigate 1,000 hectares of land.

Africa said the project was conceived in 1987 and the provincial irrigation office at that time reportedly found it to be not viable. In any case, surveying and pre-engineering work started and bids were solicited in 1995. A private contractor, which submitted the lowest bid lost, allegedly upon the lobbying of a lawmaker. By 1998, the Bohol Provincial Irrigation Office requested authority to undertake the project.

Construction was supposed to finish in 1999 but until now, it remains incomplete. An investigation in 1995 by a local anti-corruption alliance found that although P119.1 million ($4,639,837 at the 1995 average exchange rate of $1=P25.669) had already been spent, there was still no sign of any reservoir, dam or irrigation.

Unresolved

Africa revealed that the controversies surrounding the two projects remain unresolved.

In 2002, the Senate had more than a dozen hearings regarding the CMIPP.

“Unfortunately, after all the hearings, the final report was never completed…Close connections to the president at that time were allegedly abused to keep the project. At the end of the day, there was no conclusion,” said Africa.

The CMIPP and the Senate inquiries regarding it were conducted during the term of President Fidel Ramos. Despite the anomalies, Africa said the project was pushed through on the strength of, among others, memorandums from Ramos in May 1993, which sought investors for the projects and in November 1994 to fast-track the approval process.

In 2006, the Senate also initiated an investigation into the TSRP. But like the CMIPP, there was no conclusion. A case against local NIA officials was filed before the local office of the Ombudsman in 2004 but remains stalled to date.

Renaud Meyer, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country director, who attended the launching of the GCR 2008 expressed disbelief that Senate inquiries went to naught.

Farmers at the losing end

Africa said farmers are at the losing end.

He said that small farmers in Talibon, Bohol lost in three ways: the labor they contributed to the construction valued at P1.2 million ($46,748); the land they ‘voluntarily donated’ and the crops foregone to make way for the project’s canals and roads and for which they were never compensated; lastly, they still have no irrigation to speak of.

Africa further said, “Many small farmers in Nueva Ecija are hoping that water will finally pass through the canals into their rice fields. Few, if any, are aware that they would be using the most expensive water in the country that is being paid for by the national government at the expense of other irrigation projects, which might have been developed for millions of irrigation-less small farmers elsewhere.”

Africa said agriculture is important to the Philippine economy. The state of local agriculture, however, remains backward. The lack of irrigation aggravates the situation. Only 30 percent of the total agricultural land is irrigated.

He reaffirmed the fundamental characteristics of corruption presented by Priya Shah of the Water Integrity Network (WIN) – public officials have wide discretion and little accountability, weak enforcement mechanisms, and the benefits being greater than the risks of getting caught. “Quite clearly, our struggle against corruption is also a struggle for good government and a struggle for more meaningful political change.” (Bulatlat)

Hybrid rice hit, farmers air complaints

October 22, 2008

TABUK CITY — A farmer’s group here Wednesday criticized the government’s Food Security Program that heavily endorses the planting of hybrid rice, saying it did not consider the real situation on the ground.


HYBRID AND INBRED RICE ON THE RAMP. Rice took center stage at the Kalinga rice summit that coincided with the World Food Day rites. Photo by Lyn V. Ramo/NORDIS

Timpuyog dagiti Mannalon ti Kalinga (Kalinga farmers’ forum) Secretary-general Gerry Bulaat said the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) rice program which heavily encourages the planting and propagation of hybrid rice varieties failed to see the actual conditions of farms in the country.

Bulaat said this top-down planning strategy results from government planners favoring big business interests, instead of looking into the sorry plight of farmers, especially the small tiller-owners.

Criticizing the food security program packaged as FIELDS, Bulaat said the government keeps on promoting the production of hybrid seeds that do not easily acculturate with local conditions.

“Local farmers do not patronize hybrid seeds because it requires certain amount of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, a definite climate and weather conditions, enough irrigation and a planting technology that is still alien to most rice producers,” Bulaat told Nordis.

High technology farming, he said, is not applicable to farms in the countryside. He added most farmers in Kalinga do not appreciate the technology behind the cultivation of hybrids and are comfortable with the application of fertilizers and other input they are used to.

The production of seeds and other inputs is heavily left for big business to manipulate, he said. He added, although government has been spending millions on seed production, the technology heavily relies on imported commercial inputs.

Bulaat also mentioned local groups and families who control the production and sale of hybrid seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. “They take the profit from the labor of farmers,” he said.

Bulaat added, the rice productivity program is prone to graft and corruption, like any other government program. He said the fertilizer and seed subsidy intended for poor farmers did not reach most Kalinga farmers.

During the forum at the city gym here Wednesday, where some 1,500 farmers gathered for the rice information caravan and World Food Day rites, complaints on availing the fertilizer subsidy confronted Department of Agriculture (DA) officials.

National Rice Coordinator Frisco Malabanan said the government subsidizes the hybrid rice seeds at P1,500 per bag, while the inbred gets P1,200 per bag. The farmer, however, has to be in the list of farmers to be provided by the concerned local government unit.

For the fertilizer subsidy, DA handles two discount coupons worth P250 each, while the LGUs are supposed to take care of four coupons per farmer. Malabanan admitted some lapses in implementing the subsidy scheme in the local level.

A woman farmer who spoke before the forum said only those who are favored received discount coupons.

Another irrigation association officer said accredited fertilizer dealers charge P100 more on the discounted fertilizers because they still have to wait long before the government could pay them.

Kalinga is considered the rice granary of the Cordillera. It has more than 32,000 hectares of the region’s 90,000 has. irrigated rice lands. It is also a pilot province of PhilRice technology that has contributed largely to its rice production, according to government sources.

DA Cordillera Director Cesar Rodriguez said Kalinga’s rice production continue to increase citing the naturally fertile farms and the use of organic fertilizers, the continuing partnership with state universities to improve technology and the irrigations system as among the factors.

Bureau of Agricultural Statistics estimated that of the 191,000 metric tons (MT) rice produced in the region in January to June this year, Kalinga produced some 95,000 MT, or 49% of the region’s total rice production. In the same period last year the province had 87,000 MT. # Lyn V. Ramo (NorDis)

Kalinga farmers prefer inbred to hybrid rice

October 22, 2008

TABUK CITY, Kalinga — Despite government intervention to promote hybrid rice in the country, most Kalinga farmers plant inbred rice varieties, aside from the traditional rice they now export to the USA.

Without mentioning figures, a rice farmer here said most prefer to plant the inbred rice because of the high volume of inputs and attention required by the hybrid seed varieties.

“A hectare of hybrid rice requires at least eight cavans of fertilizers while the inbred needs only six for the same land area,” our informant who opted for anonymity said.

A bag of fertilizer costs P1,800 to P1,900, according to agriculture technical officials. Hybrid seeds range from P3,500 to P4,000 per 20-kilo bag, while inbreds costs only around P1,200 or even lesser. Traditional rice growers, however, maintain their own seed banks.

Grace, in her 30’s, a farmer from Pasil town, said she tried planting hybrid rice varieties but reverted to inbreds after she lost a fortune when a typhoon did not spare her rice paddies. She said, hybrid rice stalks tend to bend at the slightest wind, unlike the inbreds and the traditional rice that proved to be sturdier.

“Diay apitek a 150 cavans ket nagbalin a 20 laeng kalpasan a nabagyo daytoy,” (I expected 150 cavans but only got 20 after a typhoon hit the crops) Grace said. She said the hybrids are so sensitive to climatic changes, unlike the inbreds.

Tabuk City now boasts of being the hybrid capital of the Cordillera, but its farmers find woes with the newest seed technology.

Assistant Provincial Agriculturist Juliana B. Aclam said there are farmers who have tested the hybrid but plant inbred rice.  She confirmed reports that Kalinga farmers prefer the inbred to hybrid rice.

Top-down planning

“Kasla baby a maaywanan dagiti hybrid,” (Hybrids are like babies that need care) Gerry Bulaat, secretary-general of the Timpuyog ti Mannalon ti Kalinga (TMK) told Nordis in a separate interview.

Bulaat said the government did not consider the local situation in its planning resulting in wrong priorities.

Jessie Fernandez, Philrice supervising science specialist, based in Isabela said inbred rice yields an average of 120 cavans per hectare, while the hybrids could bring out 150 per hectare.

Both Philrice and private seed companies produce hybrid seeds.  Inbred rice was first introduced in the 70’s by the Masagana 99 program of then Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos. Philrice first developed these seeds to produce hybrid. Later, private companies followed suit, according to Fernandez.

DA Sec. Arthur Yap, in press release, stressed that while DA recognizes the potentials of hybrids at increasing farmers’ income, it also emphasizes on the extensive use of certified high-yielding varieties or inbreds, which are responsive to irrigated, rain-fed and upland rice ecosystems; unique or sub-optimal rice environs; specific seasons and climatic conditions; and commercial markets.

Cost of seed, production

Farmers, however, could not produce their own seeds because of decreasing production.  This is reportedly due to degeneration of the seed variety, that farmers have to buy seeds.

“Pinadas mi nga inmula manen diay bin-i ket saan a bumagas a kas idi damo daytoy nga imula, uray isu met laeng ti ikabil nga abono,” (We tried replanting the seeds and found out these do not yield as much as when these are first planted, even if we applied the same amount of fertilizers) said Ricardo Sad-ang, 52, of Tinglayan town.

Alyansa dagiti Pesante iti Taeng Kordilyera’s (Apit Tako) Fernando Bagyan once said in an earlier interview, these are terminator seeds. These could not produce their own seeds for later propagation, thus, compelling farmers to procure their planting materials from seed-producing companies like Syngenta, Monsanto, Asian Hybrid, Bio-seed and the like.

Sad-ang has been planting his two-hectare rice land to hybrid varieties. He said he had tried different types of hybrid seed varieties, but still get only around 90 cavans per hectare.

Philrice has reportedly produced Mestizo varieties M1, M3 and M7.  Private seed companies produce other hybrid varieties.

According to Aclam, many inbred varieties are cultivated in Kalinga. “Farmers have asserted for the certified inbred seeds. Their experience have taught them,” she told Nordis.

Unoy remains a favorite

Meanwhile, the traditional unoy is still being cultivated in most Kalinga towns.  Aclam said only the lower Tabuk barangays and the town of Rizal do not produce unoy rice.

Upper Tabuk, Tanudan, Balbalan, Upper Pinukpuk. Pasil and Tinglayan produce unoy.

Unoy rice varieties prefer the upland conditions, according to Aclam, noting that the taste and yield differ when these are planted in the lowland farms.

A negligible portion of unoy is now being exported to Montana, USA.

According to Apit Tako Spokesperson Virgie Dammay, unoy is now being produced in commercial quantities, with the provincial government trying too hard to meet the export quota for organically produced rice.

“This export program led farmers to devote more rice lands to the production of unoy. Even traditional vegetable swidden farms are now being planted to unoy,” said Mila Lingbawan of Innabuyog-Gabriela. She said, unoy was originally a paddy rice.

With more and more farmers encouraged to produce unoy for commercial purposes, TMK fears environmental degradation.

“It commands a higher price, farmers tend to produce it for sale amid food shortage and hunger,” said Bulaat.

Rice took center stage here Wednesday as the agriculture department gathered more than a thousand rice farmers, seed producers, local government officials and agriculture employees.

The rice info caravan featured a one-day stakeholders’ forum at the city gym.

Neither Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo nor Yap came to the dismay of the contingent. The duo was invited as main guests.

The forum focused on Arroyo’s center piece agriculture program FIELDS as government agencies focused on improving its organic fertilizer program; restoring irrigation systems, extension services; loans; dryers and post-harvest facilities;  and production and promotion of hybrid seeds. # Lyn V. Ramo(NorDis)

Welgang bukid sa Calabarzon ikakasa

October 21, 2008

Ilang-Ilang Quijano

MAGWEWELGA ang mga magsasaka sa iba’t ibang asyenda at plantasyon sa Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, at Quezon mula Oktubre 12 hanggang 21 laban sa “kagutuman, militarisasyon, at globalisasyon.”

Ipinanawagan din ng mga magsasaka ang pagbabasura sa CARP (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program) at pagsasabatas ng House Bill 3059 o GARB (Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill).

Patuloy na nakokonsentra ang lupa sa kamay ng iilan sa kabila ng 20 taon implementasyon ng CARP, ayon kay Imelda Lacandazo, tagapagsalita ng Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan o Kasama-TK.

Pito sa 10 magsasaka ang walang sariling lupa, ayon sa pananaliksik ng grupo.

“Halimbawa, sa Batangas na lamang, kontrolado ng 91 panginoong maylupa ang 71,813 ektarya ng lupain. Sa Quezon, pag-aari ng 211 panginoong maylupa ang 561,626 ektarya ng lupain,” ani Lacandazo.

Binatikos din ng Kasama-TK ang kriminalisasyon sa lehitimong paglaban ng mga magsasaka para sa kanilang mga karapatan sa lupa. Pinakahuli ang pagsampa ng kasong arson at conspiracy to commit rebellion sa 27 lider-aktibista sa Timog Katagalugan, kabilang ang mula sa progresibong mga grupong magsasaka.

“Hinaharas at tinatakot ng militar ang mga magsasaka, lalo na sa mga lugar na may laban sa lupa,” dagdag ni Lacandazo.

Ayon sa grupo, nananatiling mahirap ang mga magsasaka dahil sa “atrasadong sistema sa agrikultura na nakadepende sa mga import at nakatuon sa mga export.”

Sa Oktubre 12, itatayo ang rehiyunal na kampo ng mga magsasaka sa Crossing sa Calamba, Laguna.

Ikakasa rin ang mga welgang bukid sa Bacoor at Silang sa Cavite; Balayan, Alaminos (Hacienda Fule), Canlubang (Hacienda Yulo), Calatagan, Nasugbu, at Lemery sa Batangas; Tanay, Morong, at Montalban sa Rizal; Gumaca, Candelaria, Catanauan, at Infanta sa Quezon.(PinoyWeekly)

Davao Gov’t, Farmers Push Ban on Aerial Pesticide Spraying

October 20, 2008

By Yasmin D. Arquiza
VERA Files

(First of two parts)

DAVAO CITY — Once a week, the drone of airplanes shatters the early morning calm in Calinan, a cluster of small farmlands in the hilly terrain around Mount Apo. It is the signal for farmers to rush indoors or take cover and stop feeding livestock, for women to pull down clothes hanging out to dry, and for everyone to stay indoors, windows shuttered.

The small fixed-wing planes, known as crop dusters, are owned by the huge banana plantations nearby, spraying fungicide — a kind of pesticide that destroys fungus — on the banana plants. Residents say anyone caught outdoors during an aerial spray is likely to experience skin itching, eye irritation and nausea. Water exposed to fungicide turns milky white, and vegetables like malunggay curl up or retain a sticky residue.

Because of their rapid expansion, Davao’s big banana plantations are encroaching into the city’s built-up areas and farmlands like Calinan, where small farmers grow crops and fruits such as durian and lanzones that are sold in Davao City markets. Communities around these plantations have been complaining of health problems every time toxic pesticides would drift their way.

Convinced of its ill effects on health and environment, the city government of Davao passed an ordinance in February last year banning the aerial spraying of pesticides. City officials and small farmers have since been locked in a legal battle with the banana companies over the ban.

When powerful banana growers questioned the constitutionality of the ordinance, the lower court upheld the ban, as did the Office of the Solicitor General. It was only in the Court of Appeals where banana companies scored a victory: The CA issued an injunction to stop the ban, allowing them to continue aerial spraying.

Last July, the Davao City government, in alliance with farmers, asked the Supreme Court to break the impasse in what is now considered a landmark case that will test the power of the local government to protect public welfare.


A child protests aerial spraying in Davao. (Photo by Vera Files)

Aerial spraying is done on 1,800 hectares, about one-third the total area of banana plantations in Davao City, said a fact-finding report headed by City Planning and Development coordinator Mario Luis Jacinto. Pilots guided by Global Positioning System devices spray 30 liters of solution per hectare using automated nozzles.

Although the Philippines has no specific law on aerial spraying, government regulations require pilots to observe buffer zones “20 to 30 meters away” from plantations, according to regional officer Estrella Laquinta of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority. The rule is meant to spare humans, animals and plants from the ill effects of the spraying. But it is a rule only on paper.

Rosita Bacalso, whose farm is just three meters away from the Cavendish banana plantation of Davao Fruits Corp. (DFC), said she saw white insects swarming toward her coconut trees from the corporate farm when aerial spraying began in 2004. The coconut fronds turned black and began falling off, while the young fruits failed to mature fully. As a result, her usual income of P12,000 from coconuts fell to P3,000 every quarter.

On one occasion, Bacalso recalled, she looked in horror at a glass of water from the tap after heavy rains washed off pesticide residues from the gutter into their water tank. “Murag gatas. Mao ni ang among ginainom (It was milky. Is this what we’ve been drinking)?” she wondered. Since then, the family has been fetching water from the community tank 200 meters away.

Another farmer, Virginia Cata-ag, said members of her family experienced eye irritation, nausea and skin diseases after getting directly hit by pesticide spray. Her house in barangay Sirib is surrounded by a DFC banana plantation, the nearest border just 10 meters away, and the company does not notify them when aerial spraying would be done.

In barangay Dacudao, longtime resident Cecilia Moran said her family had to sell their cows that started getting sick from grazing on pasture land hit by pesticide spray. Leafy vegetables such as malunggay and camote tops curled up or had sticky residue that could not be washed off, forcing them to buy from the market what had once been a daily supply of fresh produce from their own farm.

THE legal battle over the ban on aerial spraying of poisonous pesticides in Davao City, which has reached the Supreme Court, is not the first case in which farmers square off against big agribusinesses over the issue of public health.

But it is the first time that farmers have the city government on their side. The city government in fact went as far as imposing a ban on aerial spraying of pesticides, through an ordinance banana companies say is unconstitutional and which is now the subject of the legal tussle.
“This is a landmark case on health and environment, which highlights the obligation of local government units to protect the public welfare,” said Lia Esquillo, executive director of the Interface Development Interventions (IDIS). The environmental group is assisting local communities in their protest against aerial spraying.

The joint committees on environment, agriculture and health of the city council, in their report, aptly described the controversy as a case of “public health and environment vs. local economy.”

RP banana exprtsBananas provide more than 75 percent of export revenues in the region, making it Davao’s No. 1 dollar earner. The Philippines is the fourth largest exporter of bananas in the world and, together with leading exporter Ecuador, has posted the highest growth rates in the industry in recent years, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

The case is not the first one involving controversial pesticide use in banana plantations in Davao. In 1993, banana workers in Davao del Norte were among 16,000 banana plantation workers who filed a class suit in Texas, USA against chemical companies that manufactured the pesticide DBCP, or dibromochloropropane.

A $41.5-million settlement was paid in 1997 by the companies, although refusing to admit fault or liability. They claimed DBCP pesticide, which was found to cause sterility in men, was not used properly.

Aggrieved parties

In the current case, both the farmers and banana companies feel they are the aggrieved party. The companies were the ones who initiated court action to stop enforcement of an ordinance banning aerial spraying of pesticide. They filed a case against the city government with the Regional Trial Court for “violating the equal protection clause of the Constitution” after the local legislation took effect in March last year.

The Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), Davao Fruits Corp. (DFC) and Lapanday Agricultural and Development Corp. (LADC) said the city ordinance constitutes “unreasonable exercise of police power” because banning aerial spraying would be “tantamount to confiscation of property without due process of law.”

An immediate shift to ground spraying would cost banana companies P882 million in potential losses, the petitioners said. They also questioned the requirement of a 30-meter buffer zone to protect neighboring farms and residents from pesticide drift, saying this would greatly reduce the area of banana plantations.

In September last year, the lower court upheld the validity of the city ordinance. It said the experts presented by the banana growers merely gave “unsupported allegations” and “theoretical analysis” on the health and environmental risks of aerial spraying.

Judge Renato Fuentes gave weight to farmers’ testimonies of “simple lives, gravely affected by a concerted problem, confronting them in their everyday existence.”

The banana companies elevated the petition to the Court of Appeals, which granted in November a temporary restraining order allowing the banana companies to resume aerial spraying.

In January, the court issued a preliminary injunction, citing the “apparent unconstitutionality of the ordinance, albeit inconclusive.” It further stated that the ordinance “seriously invades the appellants’ right that will cause them irreparable injury if not protected.”

Under the new Rules of Court, the CA should have decided the case by July this year, or six months after it granted the preliminary injunction, according to lawyer Raymond Salas of the legal advocacy group Saligan, which is assisting the farmers.

When the CA failed to do so, the city government and the farmers elevated the case to the Supreme Court last July 25, questioning the injunction order, which had effectively prevented the enforcement of the ordinance.

“Mere allegations of unconstitutionality cannot be enough for the Court of Appeals to issue a preliminary injunction,” Salas said.

The farmers, in their appeal, argued that “the conduct of aerial spraying, being a mere method to release toxic substances over an area, is not a right under the law. By concluding otherwise, the Honorable Court of Appeals commits clear and grave abuse of discretion.”

Even the Office of the Solicitor General upheld the action of the city government. In response to the appellate court’s request, Assistant Solicitors General Magtanggol Castro and Charina Soria issued a legal opinion last June 20 that the banana companies had failed to show the ordinance was unconstitutional, and that the city had simply followed the general welfare clause of the Local Government Code.

On the other hand, banana companies found support from the Department of Trade and Industry in Region 11.

DTI Regional Director Merly Cruz said in a position paper submitted to the city council that Davao’s leading banana industry directly employs 12,000 workers in the plantations. Support services such as stevedoring, trucking, packaging and security indirectly link up 100,000 more workers to the industry.

Public nuisance

RP banana industry mapBefore coming out with the ordinance, the city council had created a Technical Working Group, which included representatives from NGOs, affected communities and PBGEA. The city government also created a fact-finding team headed by City Planning and Development Coordinator Mario Luis Jacinto to look into the issue.

After collating all the data, the joint committees on environment, agriculture and health of the city council issued their report, which said in part: “We have heard both sides of the issue: Public health and environment vs. local economy. The two are of great importance to any civilization. But when both factors collide, the policy of the State comes in to shed light and to remind us of the basic framework in which the government is created.”

“Pesticides are poisonous, aerially spraying it is a nuisance, banning its aerial application is a justified response,” the joint committee asserted. “Can anyone imagine an urban area being aerially sprayed with pesticides? What makes the life and safety of the inhabitants of a community in nearby agricultural entities less? To remain indifferent to the plight of those being aerially sprayed with pesticides is inhuman.”

Davao City has the biggest population in the region: 1.3 million people compared to less than one million each for the three Davao provinces and Compostela Valley, according to the latest National Statistics Office figures. Its population density and status as a major urban center have made it a flashpoint in the aerial spraying controversy.

However, the city is not the first to enact legislation against aerial spraying. In 2001, the provincial board of Bukidnon passed its own ordinance against the practice, saying “unstable wind direction” while applying pesticide could pose danger to people, animals and crops. The ordinance noted that “poultries, piggeries, cattle ranches and other agri-based businesses and residential areas abut farm boundaries” of banana plantations.

The city ordinance has sent ripples in the neighboring province of Davao del Sur. During the Earth Day celebration last April, Gov. Douglas Cagas publicly criticized aerial spraying, citing the results of a health study in a village beside a banana plantation.

“Traces of pesticides that are being aerially sprayed were detected in their blood samples and water resources. If this practice continues, I am not providing my constituents a healthy body and environment that they inherently deserve,” he said.

Provincial board member Merlin Bello, who chairs the committee on health and agriculture, said he has attended many community meetings where residents have complained about aerial spraying in banana plantations. He has expressed support for the passage of a similar ordinance in Davao del Sur.

Alan Sanggayan, president of a local association called Lambigit, said their group has submitted a petition to the provincial government calling for a ban on aerial spraying due to health concerns and environmental pollution.

Sanggayan is a member of the Kalagan indigenous community in sitio Budoy in Barangay Guihing, Hagonoy town, where vast areas are devoted to bananas. Successive expansion of the plantations since the 1970s has hemmed in the 700 families living inside the ancestral land claim on all sides, which have to contend with pesticide spray.

Near the market of Hagonoy, a bulletin board indicating the supposed date of spraying is blank, despite regular aerial spraying in the area. Elders of the Kalagan people said they are rarely notified about the schedules. They are also complaining about the more potent nematicide applied on the ground, and the stench of boom spray in other areas.

Organic bananas

Even before the city ordinance was proposed, environmentalists have reported cases of pesticide poisoning from various application methods, expansion into watershed areas, and conversion of rice and fruit farms into banana plantations.

“The aerial spraying issue epitomizes the ills of corporate agriculture,” Esquillo of IDIS said. “Corporate-led plantations and mono-cropping are the real problems.”

She said farmers’ cooperatives in Mindanao are already producing organic bananas, and many have gone into diversified plantations or intercropping to control diseases.

In the farming district of Calinan, farmer Cecilia Moran said most of her neighbors have leased their coconut farms to banana and pineapple growers that practice mono-cropping. Only farmers in the village of Malagos grow bananas under their coconut trees.

Davao businessman Jesus V. Ayala, a longtime industry player, has ventured into the production of upland Cavendish bananas using organic methods through his Tristar group. The company has toured city officials in its plantations, presenting the farm as an environment-friendly model of corporate farms near watershed areas.

The move is in line with the city government’s Jacinto report, which recommended that “long-term use of organic pesticides should be adopted” in banana plantations to eliminate health and environmental risks to surrounding communities.  (PinoyPress.net)

Buguias farmers to return empty pesticide bottles

October 5, 2008

BUGUIAS, Benguet — Vegetable farmers using chemical pesticides may now return empty containers to distributors and manufacturers with the Empty Container Management Program set in place with the September 11 signing of a memorandum of agreement.

Mayor Felicio R. Bayacsan, representing local vegetable producers in the MOA, said the farmers just learned of the adverse impact of chemical pesticides and inorganic fertilizers when two local universities conducted a study among Buguias and Kapangan farmers.

He said a lot of other studies point to the abuse of pesticides and inorganic fertilizers

Eye-openers

“The findings opened our eyes to the hazards,” Bayacsan told the media during the Kapihan sa Benguet at the town hall Thursday. He did not elaborate on the hazards, but emphasized the need to manage the toxic wastes.

Benguet farmers leave the empty containers anywhere because they are unaware these would pose danger to humans and the environment, added Bayacsan. The Agno River reportedly carries the toxic wastes to lowland farms and the Lingayen Gulf, which is a major fishing ground in northern Luzon.

With the forging of the agreement, pesticide and fertilizer companies would retrieve the containers from the gardens. Bayacsan said he had talked with representatives of Syngenta and Bayer for the bottle retrieval plan.

“Ti problema kayat da a dakami ti mangrumek ti bote,” (The problem is that they wanted us to shred the bottles) said Bayacsan. The shredding would minimize the volume for easier packaging and transport, he added.

Participating agencies

The MOA seeks to enforce relevant regulations; determine related activities geared at the proper handling of pesticide containers; and find funding for the project. It also proposes the testing of farms and the environment for the extent of pesticide contamination.

Signatories to the MOA besides Bayacsan and Loo Barangay Captain Delino Dampilag Sr. include representatives of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA); Crop Protection Association of the Philippines; Philippine Integrated Crop Management Association; Integrated Waste Management, Inc.; Croplife Philippines and Newfoundland and Plastic Manufacturing Corporation.

FPA’s mandate is to regulate fertilizer and pesticide use and to educate the public of the n the benefits as well as the hazards of pesticide use and its proper handling, including proper disposal of empty containers.

In the meantime, experts have advised residents in contaminated farms to add one more pipe to their pumped water sources and to boil drinking water.

Admitting there was an abuse in the use of fertilizers and pesticides, Bayacsan said more farmers are now either controlling the use of inorganic inputs or shifting to organic farming.

Pesticide studies

In a study done on a ten-year period from 1980 to 1990 Dr. Charles Cheng and Katherine Bersamira of the Filipino-Chinese Hospital noted pesticide-related health problems of farmers, such as itchy skin, dry lips, watery and itchy red eyes that lasted for days, abdominal and chest pains, muscle cramps, appetite loss, dizziness, nose bleeding and irregular and discolored nails.

Last year, another study by the National Institute of Health (NIH) of UP Manila tried to collect blood samples among Benguet farmers and correlated ailments these have been suffering from. Participating farmers underwent examinations of the head, eyes, ears, nose, throat, neck, lungs, heart, abdomen and extremities. Past ailments, lifestyle, food preferences and eating habits, chemical and pesticide exposure, including occupational practices regarding pesticide use, storage and waste disposal were among those included in the interviews.

The NIH research results though were kept from the public to prevent undue panic among Benguet residents. # Lyn V. Ramo (NorDis)

Rice Importation Hurts Local Farmers, Costs NFA Billions in Losses

September 27, 2008

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat

For this year, the Arroyo government would import 2.296 million metric tons (MT) of rice.

Based on the estimated NFA stock inventory as of July 1 this year, 929,337 MT are imported rice, accounting for 97.99 percent of the NFA stock.

The NFA targets to import 971,145 MT of rice from July to December. Meanwhile, the planned local palay (rice grain) procurement during the same period is only 51,238 MT.

Fines Cosico, NFA grains operations officer, said the NFA normally imports about ten percent of the country’s annual rice requirement and and imported rice supposedly constitutes only three percent of its buffer stock.

More expensive

In a primer titled “100% Rice Self-Sufficiency and Self-Reliance Equals Genuine Food Security,” the NFA Employees Association (NFA-EA) stated that from 1968 to 2008, the price of wholesale imported rice per MT was more expensive than domestic rice for 21 years out of the 48-year period.

In January this year, the price of imported rice per MT was US$409 or P16,769. It rose to US$1,091 per MT or P44,731 in April. The landed cost of imported rice is estimated at P67,096 ($1,604 at the April exchange rate of $1=P41.82) per MT during the same period. The landed cost takes into account freight cost, insurance, tariff, equalization fee, among others.

Meanwhile, the wholesale price of local rice in April is P30,000 ($717) per MT or less than half the landed cost of imported rice.

Even private traders are not interested in importing rice due to the high cost.

Losses

The NFA-EA also said, “Rice importation has greatly contributed to the NFA’s losses especially with the imposition of the rice import tariff.”

From 2002 to 2006, the NFA paid more than P20 billion ($389,787,565 at the 2006 average exchange rate of $1=P51.31) to the Bureau of Customs – Department of Finance. The tariff on rice was pegged at 50 percent.

On top of this tariff, the NFA also spends for transport, handling, stevedoring, and arraste services, warehousing, pest management, among others.

It is only in 2007 when the Arroyo government exempted the NFA from paying tariff on rice imports.

WTO commitment

Why does the government insist on importing rice?

Even the Department of Finance (DoF) said that losses of the NFA may reach P43.1 billion ($925,786,703 at the September 19 exchange rate of $1=P46.555) if the price of rice in the world market increases to more than US$1,000 per MT.

Cosico said the Arroyo government’s rice importation program is in compliance with its commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Under the WTO’s minimum access volume (MAV), the country is obliged to import a certain volume of rice whether or not there is a supply shortage.

Cosico said the Arroyo government seems to be telling them to buy imported rice at any cost. On the other hand, local procurement remains very low.

Local procurement

The NFA buys local palay at low prices.

The NFA-EA revealed that from February 1999 to October 14, 2007, the NFA bought palay at only P10 ($0.216 at the 2007 average exchange rate of $1=P46.148) per kilogram even as the actual farmgate price then reached P11.21 ($0.24).

Since October 15, 2008, the price of palay increased by P1.50 ($0.03) per kilogram.

In April this year, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo increased the P0.50 incentive to farmers selling palay to the NFA to P5.50 per kilogram. Of the P17 ($0.365) per kilogram buying price of the NFA for clean and dry palay, farmers receive only P11.50 ($0.247) as cash payment and P5.50 ($0.118) as incentive.

Cosico said farmers who sell at least 50 kilograms are given P1,800 ($38.66) as subsidy for fertilizers.

In 2007, the NFA absorbed only 0.19 percent of the total local palay production of 16.237 million MT.

Not for poor farmers

Willy Marbella Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP-Philippine Peasant Movement) deputy secretary general said farm gate prices of palay remain low even as the cost of production increases.

Marbella said poor farmers cannot afford to sell their produce to the NFA and cannot avail of the subsidy on fertilizers. Landless peasants, he said, have to pay for land rent, interest payments for debts they incurred, and also have to shoulder all the expenses in production, said Marbella.

Cosico said that even with the NFA’s mobile procurement, poor farmers cannot sell their produce to the NFA. “Wala na rin silang maibenta… napunta na sa trader na pinagkautangan ng binhi at abono.” (They have nothing to sell…their produce goes to the trader from whom they loaned the seeds and fertilizers.)

Basic problems

Marbella said the Arroyo government should address the Filipino farmers’ basic problem of landlessness if it wants to resolve the rice crisis.

The KMP has been pushing for the passage of House Bill 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill filed by the late Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran.

Cosico who is also an officer of Agham (Science and Technology for the People) said the government must support local agriculture by providing continuous incentives and credit to farmers.

Marbella criticized the Arroyo government for various agriculture-related scams. “Ang dinadaya nila, 75 porsyento ng mamamayang Pilipino.” (They are cheating 75 percent of the Filipino people.)

She described as token the subsidies provided by the Arroyo government to farmers. “The Arroyo government has no decent policy to strengthen local agriculture,” said Cosico.

She also called for the mechanization of agriculture. Today, farmers pay for the use of irrigation facilities and other services, said Cosico.

Moreover, both the KMP and the NFA-EA are calling for the passage of House Bill 3958 or the Rice Industry Reform Act sponsored by Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo.

The bill aims to strengthen the NFA’s domestic procurement capability, among others.

Cosico concluded that the country’s food security must be met through local procurement and enhancing local agricultural production. (Bulatlat.com)

Ilocos tobacco farmers prefer food crops to tobacco

September 26, 2008

QUEZON CITY ― A former tobacco farmer from the Ilocos region, in a press conference Thursday, said Ilocanos would prefer planting rice and other crops rather than tobacco if only the government provided assistance.

“Narigat a taraknen ti tabako,” (It is hard to raise tobacco) said Avelino Dacanay, chairperson of the Ilocos-based Solidarity of Peasants against Exploitation (Stop Exploitation). He elaborated during the press conference, planting tobacco is like caring for a newborn that commands a 24-hour attention.

Dacanay said the tobacco industry is labor intensive. He explained a tobacco farmer’s family are usually involved in the whole process from planting up to the time when the leaves are ready to be sold to traders.

He said he grew up in a tobacco-dependent household and witnessed how his father would consume at least two packs of cigarettes in 24 hours only to keep himself awake all night maintaining the furnace that dries tobacco leaves.

Dacanay, who used to plant tobacco, shifted to other crops 15 years ago. As a farmer, he prefers food crops as vegetables and rice, and encourages others to stop planting tobacco if only given enough government attention and support.

Need for government subsidy

Government assistance to farmers is all Ilocano tobacco farmers wait for. “Ikkanda kami laeng ti suporta para iti irigasyon, agmula kami met ti pagay,” (If only the government extends us support for irrigation, we could also plant palay) Dacanay told the national media in the press conference hosted by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance of the Philippines (FCAP).

He said palay requires too much water that Ilocano farmers could not access, thus the choice for tobacco.

Tobacco farmers do not get enough from the crop, according to Dacanay. He said a farmer could not even buy a carabao. In contrast, Dacanay said, traders get large profits from unequal trade of the tobacco leaves. “They could afford to buy a Pajero,” he said referring to a luxurious lifestyle that traders lead in contrast to the deep poverty that farmers are plunged into.

Picture-based warning

Dacanay appeared with advocates for the picture-based warning bill, which they are lobbying for in the Philippine Congress. He clarified that the tobacco industry would not be affected by the passing of the picture-based warning because cigarettes would still be manufactured from tobacco leaves.

Dr. Encarnita Limpin, FCAP executive director, said the present smokers might not be affected because they have been addicted to smoking. The group, however, targets and is concerned with the youth and the non-smokers, who might be discouraged to start the habit once they see the picture-warnings on the package.

House Bill 3364, the Graphic Health Warning bill, which seeks to implement a picture-based warning on cigarettes, has been reportedly enjoying a wide support from the youth, women, religious and civic-minded individuals and groups, according to Limpin. She dismissed claims by Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson that the bill has been considered dead.

In the House of Representatives, more than 30 congress persons have registered support. Its co-authors included Representatives Paul R. Daza, Anna York P. Bondoc, Arthur Pingoy Jr., Lorenzo Tañada III, and Ana Theresita Hontiveros-Baraquiel.

The Philippines is a signatory to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

FCAP launched the Death Clock, a campaign that monitors the number of deaths since the bill was filed in December 2007. # Lyn V. Ramo (NorDis)

Agri Dep’t Transfers to Isabela in 3 Months

September 17, 2008

Does the Department of Agriculture (DA) have only three months left to stay in Manila? This is the question of employees at the Office of the Secretary (OSEC), now that there is a specific directive from the President herself to hasten the transfer of the DA office from  Quezon City to Ilagan City, Isabela (approximately 397 kilometers north of Metro Manila).

BY NOEL SALES BARCELONA
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 32, September 14-20, 2008

Does the Department of Agriculture (DA) have only three months left to stay in Manila?

This is the question of employees at the Office of the Secretary (OSEC), now that there is a specific directive from the President herself to hasten the transfer of the DA office from Quezon City to Ilagan City, Isabela (approximately 397 kilometers north of Metro Manila).

Jovencio M. Cagulada, president of the Department of Agriculture Employees Association (DA-EA) disclosed to Bulatlat that there was a letter from Presidential Adviser for New Government Centers Sec. Silvestre Bello III, reminding Agriculture Sec. Arthur C. Yap to prioritize and effectively operate the DA Central Office in Isabela – from an initial satellite level to a full regular office by January 2009.

Prior this, Bello reported to the President about the successful launching of the DA Central Office in Ilagan City last June 12.

The DA Central Office, according to official reports, will be housed in a place situated in Ilagan City’s old capitol building.

“Actually, there is already an unsigned memorandum of agreement between the provincial government of Isabela and the DA management,” he said.

Renewal of strategic Northern Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle

Bello said that the relocation of DA in Isabela renews the strategic sole of Cagayan Valley in the Northern Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle.

Bello said that the transfer is Mrs. Arroyo’s “deliberate commitment to bring about a new government center to Cagayan Valley (which is) among the remaining agricultural frontiers in the country.”

He also added that the transfer of DA central office to the Cagayan Valley region is based on “valuable considerations”, especially agricultural production of both rice and corn in the region. He also said the Isabela provincial government supports the transfer by implementing vital agriculture projects as its flagship program.

A welcome move—governor, archbishop

Gov. Grace Padaca welcomed the impending DA transfer to Isabela, saying she is thankful that the Chief Executive chose her province.

She also said she believes that the new home of DA in Isabela could be a big boost to the agricultural productivity of the province.

Meanwhile, Bayombong Archbishop, the Most Rev. Ramon Villena, D.D., issued an official statement saying that the transfer of the DA central office to the Isabela province is a big boost to the country’s food production program. Villena, the chairman of the Regional Development Council in Region II, said that he is happy that the President has transferred the DA central office to his region.

According to the prelate, the transfer of the DA office to Isabela and the establishment of ports in Region II are welcome developments, especially since the region is considered as one of the main food baskets in Luzon.

The Archbishop is hopeful that the transfer would bring in new technologies in agriculture and fisheries that would help increase the food production not only of Region II but of neighboring food-producing provinces as well.

But this “strategic move” by the government, according to the DA employees, is a foul move.

Not favorable to poor employees

“This is an unwelcome development for the employees who will be affected by the transfer,” Cagulada said.

“Never have we been given information, much less consulted regarding the planned transfer despite the fact that we, the rank-and-file employees of the DA, are the ones who are to be adversely affected,” he said.

The DA employees fear not only separation from their families but also losing their jobs because of the transfer.

A resolution, which was signed by the Executive Board of the DA-EA and adopted by the members of the DA-EA, stated that the transfer would financially dislocate them, would have adverse psychological effects on them and their families, and would result in salary diminution.

“This (the transfer) virtually terminates our employment in the Department for most of us find it practically impossible to cope financially and psychologically with the necessities. This is an attack on our security of tenure as regular employees of the Department,” Cagulada said.

Besides these, according to Cagulada, the move by Malacañang and by the DA management is a clear violation of the Civil Service Rules and Regulations for their plantilla positions identify Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City, specifically as the place of work.

Agency’s transfer means massive layoffs

The President’s directive to transfer the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to Davao City, Department of Tourism (DOT) to Cebu and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) somewhere outside Metro Manila, purportedly to be able to “perform well,” would result in more retrenchments of government employees, said the Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage).

Lori Bangalisan, president of the Courage-affiliated Bureau of Animal Industry Employees Association, believes that the transfer would affect not only 800 employees at the OSEC but also those in the attached and line agencies of the DA, estimated at around 8,000. Bulatlat

Farmers Hit NFA for Rice Price Hike

September 17, 2008

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas criticized the National Food Authority for increasing rice prices at a time when the poor could hardly cope with the crisis. The KMP said that the NFA’s move to limit access to the P18.25 per kilo rice is nothing more than a price hike.

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat
Volume VIII, Number 32, September 14-20, 2008

Various groups have opposed the Arroyo government’s limited distribution of the P18.25 ($0.389 at an exchange rate of $1=P46.86) per kilogram of rice from the National Food Authority (NFA).

In a statement posted at its website, the NFA said that starting this month, they would sell the P18.25 per kilogram of rice only at Tindahan Natin (TN) outlets, and available only to those with Family Access Cards (FAC).

The rice allocation of the TN outlets would be based on the number of FAC beneficiaries in the area computed at a two-kilogram allotment per family per day.

Each TN outlet may identify 250 FAC beneficiaries, said the NFA. With 1,426 outlets in Metro Manila, the NFA said the scheme would serve 356, 500 families.

NFA Administrator Jessup P. Navarro said that with this move, the low-income group and underprivileged sector ‘gets the assurance of optimizing the benefits from the rice subsidies and other hunger mitigating programs of the government.’

“We can specifically focus our distribution efforts of the affordable rice to families who really need assistance from the government,” he added.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP-Philippine Peasant Movement) and the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-New Patriotic Alliance) deemed otherwise.

Bayan said such move would marginalize millions of families who are also poor.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) distributed FACs to approximately 280,000 families.

Arnold Padilla, Bayan public information officer asked, “How about those whose monthly income is less than P10,000 ($213.40) , which according to the government itself is the current amount needed in Metro Manila to be considered not poor?” Padilla asked.

Willy Marbella, KMP deputy secretary general said, “It is very obvious that the government doesn’t treat the minimum wage earner as poor, those earning P382 ($8.15) a day.” He said that a P5, 000 ($106.70) monthly income, which is the maximum income for a family to avail of the FAC, is equivalent to only P208 ($4.438) per day.

Price hike

Padilla added that these poor families would be forced to purchase the P25 ($0.53) per kilo rice, which is also subsidized by the NFA but is still hardly affordable to the poor.

The NFA sells three kinds of rice: NFA rice for P18.25 ($0.389) a kilo, NFA commercial rice for P25 ($0.53) a kilo, and premium NFA rice for P30 ($0.64) a kilo. Only the NFA commercial and premium rice can now be sold in public markets.

The KMP considered the move as a price hike, from P18.25 ($0.389) per kg to P25 ($0.53) per kg, plain and simple.

Cutting down on consumption

Dionisio Bindoy, a driver residing at Bgy 178 in Camarin, Caloocan said he has been forced to buy rice at P30 ($0.64) per kilo. He said that even the P25 ($0.53) NFA rice is not of good quality.

Earning only P6,000 ($128) per month, Dionisio said that they only eat three kilos of rice per week. He lives with his wife and two daughters. Sometimes, they would eat kamote (sweet potato) as substitute to rice. He planted kamote in their backyard.

Meanwhile, Jun Cera buys the P25 ($0.53) NFA rice. He tried to get a family access card but the DSWD said they had reached their limit. “Maraming di nabigyan. Ang nabigyan pa nga, iyong ibang may kakayanang bumili ng bigas, mga kamag-anak ng DSWD at ng mga taga-barangay.” (Many have not been given cards. Some of the beneficiaries have the capacity to buy rice, they are relatives of DSWD personnel and of barangay officials.)

He and his wife work as vendors, earning P300 ($6.40) per day. They live in Litex, Commonwealth. All of their three children are in grade school.

riceDati, dalawang kilo ng bigas isang araw. Ngayon, isa’t kalahati na lang,” (We used to consume two kilos of rice per day. These days, we only eat one and a half kilo) said Cera.
He said they just eat rice cakes for breakfast. They also have to reduce the quantity of their viand.

Cera said that these are difficult times. His children walk their way to school to save money. He said they walk for more than one kilometer every day. They also do not have any allowance or food when going to school.

“The government is really pushing through its murderous design of starving the Filipino people,” said Marbella.

Importation

The KMP also criticized the continued importation of rice.

Fines Cosico, NFA grains operations officer, said rice importation is prescribed by the agreements under the World Trade Organization (WTO).

According to the Performance of Philippine Agriculture (January to June 2008) by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, palay (rice grain) production was up by 5.84 percent.

Estimated stock inventory of the NFA as of July 2008 shows that 929,337 metric tons (MT) of rice are imported as against 1,255 MT of locally-produced rice and 28,304 MT of palay.

Based on the NFA’s 2008 Rice/Palay National Supply and Demand Analysis, the NFA would import 971, 145 MT of rice from July to December.

Cosico said that the NFA has started buying clean and dry palay at P17 ($0.36) per kilo. Farmers who sell at least 50 kilograms are given P1,800 ($38.41) as subsidy for fertilizer. But Cosico admitted the subsidy is not sustainable.

The KMP believes that the NFA should procure more locally-produced palay instead of importing more rice.

Bayan reiterated its demand to impose price controls on rice, dismantle the rice cartel, and strengthen the role of the NFA in the whole rice sector to ensure that affordable rice is available to the people especially the poor.

The group also emphasized that the long-term solution to the rice crisis is the reversal of globalization policies on agriculture and the implementation of a genuine agrarian reform program that would allow Filipino farmers to produce food for domestic requirements well as other needs of the economy. Bulatlat

Economics and Society 101: Notes on Baguio’s land problem

September 13, 2008

By ARTHUR BOQUIREN

I am thankful to the organizers of the Baguio Land Conference last August 28-29 for inviting me as one of their discussants. Fulfilling the role of a discussant allowed me to attend most of the land conference. The organizers of the land conference include the University of the Philippines-Baguio Cordillera Studies Center, Interfaith Gathering for Truth and Accountability, Tontongan ti Umili, Tebtebba Foundation and the Committee on Laws and Land of the Baguio City Council.

The presentations of Beverly Longid, Engr. Isabelo Cosalan Jr., Geraldine Cacho, Joanna Cariño, Kathleen Okubo, Roselle Came-Bahni, Dr. Julie Cabato, Judge Braulio Yaranon, Ignacio Pangket, Atty. Jose Molintas, Honor Sagmaya, City Councilor Richard Cariño, Windel Bolinget, and retired UP Professor Rowena Reyes-Boquiren were most enlightening.

On listening to the speakers and after reading the documents they have circulated, the personal insights that I acquired from them is that Baguio’s land problem has at least three fundamental facets (my formulation might have been affected by my own frameworks prior to the conference):
1. Deprivation of the indigenous peoples of Baguio of their right to land based on “native title”
2. Deprivation of the poor and middle classes of the right to a home
3. Environmental degradation

On the last point, one of the main speakers, Prof. Rowena Reyes-Boquiren describes the Baguio land problem as one that involves the issue of carrying capacity. For this writer, however, carrying capacity is variable across time but it is true that there is an over-concentration of population in Baguio. A lower concentration of population can result to a better quality of life.

During the conference, Prof. Reyes-Boquiren enlightened me that the roots of Baguio’s land problem can be found in the ongoing work of the elite to amass and consolidate properties. Thus, if we follow her thinking, the root of the land problem of Baguio, as elsewhere, is more than economic. The resolution of the problem requires the adoption of measures covering economic, political and other dimensions. At the same time, from my perspective, the solution to the problem requires the adoption of the following principles.

First, the land problem cannot be resolved outside of the fundamental address of the basic problems of society: land would remain un-affordable for many when poverty is not addressed.

Second, the land problem cannot be resolved by means that are purely economic or financial. The land problem requires a political solution. Solving the Baguio land problem would involve doing more than financial and economic calculations on the appropriate interest rate, amortization period and payment schemes for housing and land loans that can be implemented. Several government administrations have done these and have only failed to solve both homelessness and landless-ness among the poor and middle classes.

Third, the resolution of the land problem must simultaneously address development and equity issues. In particular, the solutions to the Baguio land problem must facilitate economic development and address intergenerational, social and spatial equity. The residents and rightful owners of Baguio may want just enough commercial and industrial centers dispersed in strategic locations in the city. Residents and rightful owners of Baguio City may also want that amount of commercial and industrial centers that are consistent with the volume of wastes that the city can handle at particular times.

Fourth, the resolution of the land problem must address or resolve legitimate claims from the perspective of full recognition of legitimate rights. Indigenous peoples (IPs) have rights to ancestral domain but the poor and middle classes also have rights to land and a home. Certain rights can be prior to other rights. Further, some of them have been victims of cheats. Somehow there should be a way to redress the exploitation they have suffered from unscrupulous land dealers. The state should also be held accountable for the cheats because in many instances the cheats used government offices. It is also possible that among indigenous peoples, there are competing claims to land.

Fifth, the resolution of the land problem requires dialogs among the IPs themselves and between the poor and the IPs, in which the latter not all belong to the poor. Among the IPs, there can be competing claims. Further, would IPs be willing to share land to the landless and the urban poor? Many of the urban poor are in a difficult situation: they do not have land and a home and yet they cannot invoke the rights to ancestral domain in the same way that IPs can.

Sixth, the resolution of the land problem requires dialog and a common front against poverty. IPs and the urban poor and middle classes share the same history of oppression and exploitation. The land problem that they experience today is a product of their common history of oppression and exploitation. This being the case, they owe it to themselves to cooperate in a common front for justice.

Seventh, the resolution of the land problem must simultaneously address environmental concerns. We cannot have only residences in Baguio. We need forests, watersheds, clean rivers, and biodiversity, particularly within the pockets of micro-forests and watersheds.

Eighth, we must address the concern of over-concentration of population in Baguio given that a better quality of life and environment can result from a dispersal of population.

Ninth, Baguio’s land problem should be addressed from the perspective of rights. IPs have rights to their ancestral domain but the urban poor and middle classes have rights to a home and land.

Tenth, Baguio’s land problem should be addressed from the perspective of dialog between IPs and the urban poor and middle classes. In particular, it must be addressed within their common front against poverty and exploitation/oppression.

At the heart of the matter is also this: suppose we focus only the rights of IPs to ancestral domain, what about the poor and middle classes? Do they not have rights to a home? How can we simultaneously address the rights of IPs, not all of whom belong to the poor, as well as address the rights of the poor and middle classes?

I anticipate that somewhere in this issue of Nordis, the principle of native title will be discussed and thus, the concept is not discussed here. At any rate, Joanna Cariño of The Heirs of Mateo Cariño and Bayosa Ortega Foundation can discuss the matter and she can be contacted at her home foundation. #

(The writer maintains a blog at http://www.geocities.com/arturoboquiren. Comments can be coursed through http://www.nordis.net, artboquiren2040@yahoo.com, and +63927-536-8431)

Herbicide-laced rice downs 5 Bulacan family members

August 30, 2008

By George Trillo

CALUMPIT, Bulacan – Five members of a family here were rushed to the hospital after eating boiled rice laced with herbicide with cops still trying to determine if foul play was involved.
Efifacio Cruz, chairman of Barangay Frances, identified the victims as Feliciano, Perla, Rex, Ruth, and Ramil, all surnamed Ablaza.

Cruz suspects that the herbicide Machete, used to eliminate weeds in rice fields, was deliberately put in the cooked rice.

A relative of the victims, Manuel Ablaza, 17, who cooked the rice, is now in the custody of the municipal social welfare office.

After eating the rice night of August 15, Manuel’s grandparents Feliciano and Perla, uncles Rex and Ramil, and aunt Ruth started vomiting and experienced dizziness and shortness of breath.
Neighbors rushed them to Our Lady of Mercy General Hospital in nearby Pulilan town.

Feliciano, Rex and Ramil are out of danger, while Perla and Ruth are still in critical condition.
Manuel admitted to newsmen he cooked rice for dinner, but denied that he deliberately laced it with the herbicide.

He said his aunt Ruth was with him when he cooked the rice.

The victims’ relatives recalled that more than a week ago, Manuel’s guardians discovered that they lost pieces of jewelry. The teener’s parents are both working abroad.

They only learned that Manuel allegedly took the jewelry when his classmates reported that he gave away cellular phones in school.

Fighting for Land, a Decent Income, for their Lives and their Livelihood – the Daily Struggles of Farmers of Negros

August 21, 2008

A government ad extolling farmers as heroes for providing food for our tables has been airing regularly on television.  It also describes what the government is supposedly doing to support Filipino farmers.  But the farmers of Guihulngan, Negors Oriental tell a different story: of fighting for their land, higher wages and farm gate prices, and fighting for their lives and their livelihood as they confront daily harassments and threats from the military, and the impending operations of mining corporations.

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat
Volume VIII, Number 28, August 17-23, 2008

GUIHULNGAN, Negros Oriental – The intensified operations of several units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) here, purportedly to crush communist rebels, have not stopped farmers to fight for their livelihood.

Since the latter part of 2007, the Central Command (CenCom) of the AFP declared Negros as its priority area in its counter-insurgency campaign. The CenCom specifically identified Central Negros, which includes Guihulngan, La Libertad, Vallehermoso and Canlaon in Negros Oriental and Magallon, Isabela, La Castallena, Himamaylan and Binalbagan in Negros Occidental.

Operating in the area are the 303rd Infantry Brigade (IB) and 302nd Infantry Brigade, under which are four infantry battalions 11th IB, 61st IB, 15th IB and 79th IB.  Reinforcing them are special elite forces of the 1st Scout Ranger (SR) Battalion and two Division Reconnaissance Companies (DRC).

Two more companies of the 12th IB supervising more than 2,000 elements of Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu) and almost two platoons of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) also augment the AFP in its operations. The RPA-ABB is a splinter group of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which has signed a peace agreement with the government.

Elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP), specifically the Regional Mobile Group (RMG)-Region 6 and the Provincial Mobile Groups (PMG) complement the AFP’s operations.

Death threats, harassment

But state security forces are not only conducting operations against the NPA, the Kapunongan Alang sa Ugma sa Gagmay’ng Mag-uuma sa Oriental Negros (Kaugmaon-Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas) said civilians, including their peasant members, have become targets of harassment.

Erwin SabijonIn an interview, Erwin Sabijon, chairperson of Kaugmaon, disclosed that their organization has been affected by militarization. He said the military has issued death threats to their barangay (village) leaders. “Some of our members fear for their safety,” Sabijon said in Cebuano.

Sabijon said that out of the 33 barangays in Guihulngan, Kaugmaon has 27 chapters.

Sabijon replaced Emilia Quirante as Kaugmaon chair. Quirante has been detained since March 2007 for trumped-up charges of child abuse and rebellion.

He himself has been subjected to various forms of harassment. For many months now, he said he could not go home because the military has been looking for him.

The harassment, Sabijon related, started as early as 2004. A certain Lt. Angcog summoned him to go to the barangay hall of Bgy. Mani-ak; the soldiers then were occupying the said hall. Angcog told him that he is included in the military’s order of battle. “He showed me the list,” said Sabijon.

When the soldiers tried to get his bag, he told them, “You don’t have a search warrant. I am not a criminal.” That day, he went away alive.

But Sabijon said attempts on his life continue. Sometime in 2007, Sabijon said two soldiers disguised themselves as farmers and stayed near their house. Cautious, Sabijon took another way out of the place. The next day, a neighbour told him, “There were two soldiers waiting for you. It’s good they did not chance upon you.”

On July 22, after attending the second day of the three-day dialogue with Guihulngan City Mayor Ernesto Reyes on the rice crisis, Sabijon and his colleagues rode in a tricycle on their way home. A private car hit their tricycle. Witnesses said that the car went inside the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). Another witness said that the car was parked inside the compound of the Mayor’s office before the incident happened.

The next day, Sabijon went to the public market. A man came to him, hit him on the side with a 45-calibre pistol and went away.

In another incident, Sabijon was speaking in a rally in Guihulngan City. He was talking about landlessness as the number one problem of the farmers. A soldier told him, “Dong, may lupa ka. Nakahanda na ang libingan mo!” (Man, you have land. Your graveyard is waiting for you.)

In May this year, Sabijon, together with more than a hundred farmers were on their way to the city on board a government dump truck. They were stopped at a military checkpoint at Bgy. Hilaitan. One of the soldiers told him, “Why are you rallying against the government when you are using a government vehicle?” Sabijon replied in Cebuano, “It is ours. We are taxpayers. Even your underwear is our property. We pay for your salary.”

The soldiers unlocked the safety of their high-powered rifles. They pointed their guns at Sabijon but did not fire. The farmers were not able to pass through the checkpoint and opted to stay in the barangay hall until the morning of the next day.

In Bgy. Linantuyan, Sabijon said Kaugmaon members are routinely being summoned by the military and interrogated for two hours. He said that Kaugmaon members are being forced them to confess that they are members of the NPA. Sabijon said that their denial or admission, however, would mean the same thing for the military whose mind is set that they are members of the NPA.

Fighting for their livelihood

Kaugmaon maintained that the upsurge in the number of troops operating in their areas has greatly affected the economic life of the farmers. Many of the leaders could no longer work in the field.

But Sabijon said their organization is not totally paralyzed. “The military cannot claim that it has successfully crushed our organization,” said Sabijon.

Their campaign for land reform continues, Sabijon said. He cited the campaigns for the increase in farm gate prices of corn, banana, coffee and coconut and for the increase in salary of sugar workers.

He said that sugar workers are paid P45 ($0.99 at an exchange rate of $1=P45.31) for 12 hours of work per day by Mayor Reyes. They have no benefits.

Kaugmaon was able to lobby for a higher salary for sugar workers at the Buenavista plantation owned by William Antepuesto. From P50 ($1.10) per day for clearing or preparation of the land, sugar workers are now paid P70 ($1.54). From P80 to P100 ($1.76 to $2.207) for plowing, it was increased to P120 ($2.648) per day.  The P100 ($2.207) per ton payment sugar workers get for the cutting of the sugarcane has been increased to P150 to P200 per day ($3.10 to $4.41).

The wholesale price of banana, which used to be P0.60 ($0.01) per piece is now pegged at P0.70 ($0.015).

Sabijon said that while the increases are minimal, these mean a lot to farmers.

Sabijon related that they are also campaigning for a shift to organic farming. Chemical inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides are expensive. He said that they pay P2,700 to P3,000 ($59.59 to $66.21) for every sack of fertilizer.

He said they still have so much work to do to alleviate the plight of farmers. Landlessness, he said, remains the number one problem with 1:4 sharing of landlords and peasants. “The farmers pay for everything.”

Mining

Sabijon also talked about their campaign against the entry of mining corporations in Guihulngan. They have formed the Guihulngan Anti-Mining Alliance.

There is a pending application for Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) by Philmet (formerly Western Mining Corporation) for extracting copper and gold covering 88,000 hectares spread over 14 towns including Guihulngan.

The Tañon Strait on the coastal part of the City is under exploratory drilling by the Japan Exploration Company (JAPEX).

The Geograce Corporation, the director of which is former presidential spokesperson Mike T. Defensor, also has a mining project in Ayungon, four towns away from Guihulngan. According to the Geograce website, the Ayungon Project is a 4,717 hectare porphyry copper-gold prospect on the island of Negros, Philippines. The southeastern part of Negros Island is found to have positive indications of precious (gold and silver), base metals (copper, lead, zinc) and other metallic mineralization.

Sabijon deemed that the intensified military operations are aimed to pave the way for mining activities in the province.

Sabijon said he attended a dialogue with the City Council last July. He registered anew their group’s opposition to large-scale mining operations.

He said that while Vice Mayor Caesar Macalua has supported their stance, Mayor Ernesto Reyes has been silent on the issue. Members of the City Council have different views.

Sabijon said that foreign mining corporations are the only ones to benefit. Farmers will be dislocated, he said. “Foreign companies process raw materials from our country and sell these to us as finished products,” he explained.

Survival

Sabijon said there is no other way but to fight for their survival.

He said that while they can choose not to fight and live somewhere else, they are bound to face the same problems.

He said that only through collective effort can they be able to surmount the challenges ahead. “Wala nang atrasan,” (There’s no turning back.) Sabijon said smiling. Bulatlat

KASAMA TK lambasts Nasser, Call for moratorium on land conversion

August 15, 2008

Southern Tagalog tillers belonging to the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA TK) lambasted Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman for snobbing their scheduled dialogue Thursday afternoon.

They vowed that they will not return home until the DAR top man face them.

“Farmers from Tibig in Silang, Cavite, Hacienda Yulo in Canlubang, Laguna, Macabud in Rodriguez, Rizal and Hacienda Fule in Alaminos, Laguna and Sto. Tomas, Batangas were supposed to hold a dialogue with DAR officials (Thursday) but as had previously happened, we were told that Pangandaman would not be able to meet with us,” the group said in Filipino.

At least 50 KASAMA-TK members has been camping out since Monday outside the DAR office. They want Pangandaman to suspend all land conversion orders in compliance with an earlier order from President Arroyo to freeze all such conversions for at least two years until the end of her term.

Kasama TK said Hacienda Yulo (7,100 hectares), Hacienda Zobel in Calatagan, Batangas (12,000 hectares), the 2,400-hectare Macabud, Rizal watershed are being claimed by Bantay Kalikasan and the Lopez family; while Hacienda Fule (97 hectares) and the Locsin property (2,000 hectares) in Puerto Galera are set to be developed by the Zobel-Ayala group.

“The farmers in Hacienda Fule are being driven out because they plan to convert this into an eco-tourism site while the Yulo and Ayala families want to turn Hacienda Yulo into a golf course. The Macabud watershed has been demolished eight times since 2004,” Kasama TK spokesperson Imelda Lacandazo said in Filipino.

“Itigil na ang pagpapalit-gamit ng lupang sakahan, ibalik na sa mga magsasaka. Hindi kami aalis sa DAR hanggang hindi kami hinaharap ng mga opisyal nito,” they stressed.

The group also made a symbolic planting of rice outside the DAR gates, forming a mold that would remind Pangandaman what it is all about: “LUPA.”

Sa ngalan ng komersiyo sa Quezon City

August 10, 2008

Ilang-Ilang D. Quijano & Noel Sales Barcelona

Protesta ng mga empleyado ng Department of Agriculture laban sa paglilipat ng tanggapan sa probinsya. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

Protesta ng mga empleyado ng Department of Agriculture laban sa paglipat ng tanggapan ng kanilang opisina mula Quezon City patungong Iligan City, Isabela. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

TUWING alas-dose ng tanghali sa nakaraang tatlong linggo, sabay-sabay na lumalabas sa kani-kanilang opisina ang mga empleyado ng DA (Department of Agriculture). Nakasuot sila ng pula’t nagbibitbit ng mga bandera. Umaasa silang madidiskaril pa ang isang gumugulong na planong sasagasa sa kanilang mga kabuhayan.

Noong Hunyo 12, Araw ng Kalayaan, pinasinayaan ng mga opisyal ng DA at lokal na opisyal ng gobyerno ang bagong DA Central Office sa Capitol Building, Iligan City, Isabela. Samantala, sa kasalukuyang sentrong tanggapan ng DA sa Elliptical Road, Quezon City, may 370 kilometro ang layo, walang kamalay-malay ang mga empleyado.

Nalaman na lamang nilang may bago silang opisina nang mabasa ang memorandum ni Silvestre Bello, kalihim ng Office of the Presidential Adviser for New Government Centers, kay Kal. Arthur Yap ng DA noong Hulyo 19. Ayon sa memorandum, dapat makalipat na sa bagong DA Central Office “sa lalong madaling panahon…alinsunod sa kagustuhan ni Pangulong Arroyo.”

“Nagulat na lang kami. Ni wala man lang konsultasyon sa amin,” ayon kay Lilibeth de Leon, 49, siyam na taon nang nagtatrabaho na legal assistant at miyembro ng DA-EA (Department of Agriculture Employees Association).

Sa piket ng mga empleyado ng DA sa harap ng kanilang tanggapan noong Agosto 1, sumama sa kanila ang mga empleyado ng mga kakabit na ahensiya ng DA, DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform), at DENR (Department of Environment ang Natural Resources).

Umanib na rin sa arawang protesta ang mga miyembro ng grupong Courage (Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees), Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap o Kadamay, Kilusang Mayo Uno o KMU, at Anakpawis Party-list.

Hindi kasi ito simpleng usapin ng paglilipat ng isang opisina.

QC-CBD, tunay na dahilan

Sinabi ng gobyernong Arroyo na ililipat ang DA sa probinsya ng Isabela “upang mailapit ito sa mga magsasaka.” Ito rin umano ang magpapasimuno ng programa ng gobyerno sa produksiyon ng palay sa rehiyon ng Cagayan Valley.

Pero higit pa rito ang dahilan, ayon sa DA-EA. Saklaw ang lupaing kinatitirikan ng DA ng grandiyosong proyekto ng pambansang pamahalaan, ng Pamahalaang Lungsod ng Quezon at ng malalaking negosyante—ang Quezon City Central Business District o QC-CBD.

Noong Mayo 4, 2007, nilagdaan ni Pang. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ang grandiyosong plano ng QC-CBD na layong gawin ang lungsod na sentro-ng-grabidad sa komersiyo, pamumuhunan at pananahanan sa Metro Manila. Inamyendahan pa ito sa pamamagitan ng EO 670-A noong Setyembre 11, 2007.

Saklaw ng naturang proyekto ang 96.4 ektarya sa North Triangle, 99.2 ektarya sa East Triangle, at 55 ektarya sa lugar ng Veterans Memorial Hospital. Bagaman hindi saklaw ng naunang plano, idinamay na maging ang 90 ektaryang pag-aari ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas-Diliman.

Tatayuan ang nasabing mga lugar ng mga pabahay at mga sentro ng pamumuhunan, komersiyo, kalusugan, pagpapaganda, at paglilibang. Ginagarantiyahan ang proyekto ng P3-Bilyon mula sa World Bank at hiwalay na pondo mula sa Asian Development Bank.

“Dahil prime lot o magandang paglagyan ng mga gusali at establisimyento ang lugar na kinatitirikan ngayon ng DA, gustong ipagbili ito ng gobyerno kahit pa na nangangahulugan ito nang malawakang tanggalan sa trabaho,” paliwanag ni Joven Gaculada, pangulo ng DA-EA.

Hindi lamang tanggapan ng DA ang apektado sa QC-CBD. Ayon kay Ferdinand Gaite, pambasang tagapangulo ng Courage, nakatakda na ring ilipat sa Davao City ang tanggapan ng DAR sa Elliptical Road. Ipagbibili na rin umano ang ilang bahagi ng Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife (matatagpuan sa Agham Road), na pinamamahalaan ng DENR.

Himutok ni Gaculada, “Isasakripisyo nila ang trabaho at kapanakan ng mga empleyado, maging ng mga mamamayang pinaglilingkuran ng mga ahensiyang apektado ng paglilipat, para mapagbigyan ang mga kapitalistang gaya nina Jaime Zobel de Ayala, Henry Sy Sr., magkapatid na Andrew at Lucio Tan, at si John Gokongwei Jr.”

Epekto sa empleyado

Ayon sa Courage, walang tiyak na programa ang gobyerno hinggil sa mga empleyado ng nabanggit na mga ahensiya. Wala rin umanong malinaw na pondong nakalaan para sa isiguro ang maalwang paglilipat. “Sa halip, naniniwala kami na mas magagastusan pa nga ang gobyerno dahil kailangang magtayo ng bagong mga gusali para sa mga tanggapan at ilipat ang lahat ng mga kagamitan,” ani Gaite.

Lalong hindi kakayanin ng karaniwang mga empleyado gaya ni de Leon ang gastos ng pagpasok sa malayong opisina. “Kapag nasa Isabela na ang DA, magkano ang pamasaheng kailangan namin? Mas malaki pa ata kaysa sa isang buwang sweldo,” aniya.

Ngayon pa lamang, hindi na niya halos maipagkasya sa pagpapakain at pagpapa-aral ng dalawang anak ang buwanang sweldo na P15,000. “Balewala na rin nga yung 10% umento sa suweldo dahil ilang beses na ba nagtaas ang presyo ng mga bilihin, ng langis?” ani de Leon.

Samantala, pangamba ng mga empleyado ng kakabit na mga ahensiya ng DA, isusunod na rin ang paglilipat sa kanilang mga tanggapan sa probinsiya.

“Kung nasaan ang inahin, tiyak doon din ilalagay ang mga inakay, ‘di ba? Hindi naman puwedeng nandoroon sila (DA Central Office) sa Isabela at nandirito naman kami sa QC,” ayon kay Lori Bangalisan, pangulo ng Bureau of Animal Industry Employees Association o BAI-EA.

Kuwento ni Bangalisan, hirap na ngang umagapay sa tumataas na pamasahe ang mga empleyado. Ang ilan sa kanila, ibinabahay na ng unyon sa loob ng opisina ng BAI. Baon din umano sa utang ang karaniwang mga empleyado na tumatanggap lamang ng P200 hanggang P300 take-home pay kada araw.

Lalo umanong lalala ang kanilang mga problema kapag naglipat ng opisina. “Maganda kung sa maganda yung QC-CBD. Pero para sa aming mga empleyado, malawakang layoff ang mangyayari. At mayayaman lang talaga ang makikinabang diyan sa proyekto. Paano ang mahihirap, na can’t afford pumunta sa QC para mag-shopping?” ani Bangalisan.

Nag-aalala rin siya sa epekto ng pagtatayo ng QC-CBD sa komunidad ng mga maralitang pamilya sa likuran ng tanggapan ng BAI sa Visayas Avenue.

Sanhi ng korupsiyon?

Kinukuwestiyon din ng Courage ang posibleng maanomalyang paggamit ng gobyernong Arroyo sa pondong kikitain mula sa pagbebenta ng mga lupain sa Quezon City. Tinatayang aabot ito ng bilyun-bilyong piso.

“Alam naman natin na sa usapin ng pagbibili ng mga pag-aari ng gobyerno, naririyan ang mga padulas o mga lagayan para mapadali ang mga transaksiyon. Hindi lamang inaalisan ng gobyerno ng karapatan ang publiko sa mahahalagang serbisyo dahil sa paglipat ng mga tanggapan nito at ng trabaho ang mga empleyado sa loob ng mga opisinang ito. Nanakawan pa nila ang taumbayan,” sabi ni Gaite.

Kamakailan, binuo ng Courage, kasama nang iba pang mga organisasyon gaya nang Aksiyon Central at Alliance of Health Workers, ang alyansang tinatawag na Contra-CBD o Concerned Organizations opposed to Transfer, Layoff and Privatization for the Central Business District.

Magsisilbi umano itong kalasag ng mga mamamayan laban sa demolisyon ng mga maralitang komunidad, pagsasapribado ng mga ahensiya ng gobyerno, at tanggalan sa hanay ng mga empleyado ng gobyerno.

Anila, lalabanan at bibiguin nila ang grandiyosong proyektong QC-CBD na isasakripisyo ang karapatan sa kabuhayan, pamamahay, at serbisyo sosyal ng libu-libong mamamayan—sa ngalan ng komersiyo at sa kaabikat nitong korupsiyon sa gobyerno.

Hindi nga lang simpleng usapin ng paglilipat ng opisina ang ipinoprotesta ng mga empleyado ng DA araw-araw sa nakaraang tatlong linggo.(PinoyWeekly)

GenSan, Sarangani eyed for jatropha production

July 23, 2008

Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews
Tuesday, 22 July 2008 08:54
var sburl4866 = window.location.href; var sbtitle4866 = document.title;var sbtitle4866=encodeURIComponent(“GenSan, Sarangani eyed for jatropha production”); var sburl4866=decodeURI(“http://www.mindanews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4777″); sburl4866=sburl4866.replace(/amp;/g, “”);sburl4866=encodeURIComponent(sburl4866);GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/21 July) – With 172,500 hectares of ready expansion area for jatropha production, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today endorsed plans by the Philippine National Oil Company’s Alternative Fuels Corporation (PNOC-AFC) to develop this city and nearby Sarangani province as major production areas for biofuels in the country.

In her visit to the two-hectare jatropha nursery and plantation of the PNOC-AFC and partner firm Jubilee Agri-Advancement Corporation (JAC) in sitio Lanton, barangay Apopong here this morning, the President directed PNOC-AFC officials to speed up the development and expansion this year of the jatropha nurseries and plantations in the area.

PNOC-AFC chair Renato Velasco said this city and Sarangani can offer at least 172,500 hectares for the production of Jatropha curcas, locally known as tuba-tuba.

Velasco said this city’s 140.57 hectares of jatropha plantation may expand up to 10,000 hectares.

He said Sarangani’s current jatropha plantation area of 238.36 hectares may be expanded up to 162,500 hectares.

“These are among our priority production areas for jatropha and eventually its end-product, the biofuels,” he told the President, who was joined by Press Secretary Jesus Dureza and local officials led by South Cotabato 2nd District Rep. Darlene Custodio and City Mayor Pedro Acharon Jr.

The President, clad in light blue raincoat, arrived at around 10am here amid morning drizzle. She was met by a cheering crowd of around 300 people, mostly barangay officials and jatropha farmers.

After the briefing, she inspected the jatropha nursery facility and briefly observed several workers harvesting seeds of the plant.

After signing Republic Act 9367 or the Biofuels Act of 2006, the President directed the PNOC-AFC to spearhead the production of biofuels in the country.

Last Feb. 7, the PNOC-AFC and JAC signed a memorandum of agreement on the establishment of a 500-hectare jatropha orchard here and in Sarangani for seedlings propagation and seed production to supply the requirements of plantations in the area.

The JAC, in partnership with farmer growers, has already planted 783 hectares with jatropha in General Santos City alone, which could produce one ton of seeds per week.

Last July 3, the PNOC-AFC and Landan People’s Multi-Purpose Cooperative, a pineapple growers’ cooperative of Dole Philippines based in Polomolok, South Cotabato, signed an agreement to plant jatropha on 5,000 hectares of marginal, idle unproductive lands in the area.

Eco-Global, a Korean biodiesel producer has also expressed interest in establishing commercial-scale jatropha nurseries cum plantations in various areas in South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sararangani and General Santos.

Jatropha curcas has been found to have the best potential for biodiesel having a yield of up to 40 percent of oil from its seed.

Based on this estimate, planting 2,000-2,500 jatropha plants per hectare could yield up to five tons of seeds or an equivalent of about 3,000 liters of biodiesel, which is now popular in Europe as an additive to petrochemical fuel. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)

Biofuels depriving world of 100 million tons of cereals

July 22, 2008

Agence France-Presse
First Posted 07:32:00 07/22/2008

HAVANA — The production of biofuels is depriving the world of around 100 million tons of cereals that could go to feed the hungry, the head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization said Monday on a visit to Cuba.

Increased oil prices and trade barriers have prompted farmers to rush to cultivate more profitable crops used for biofuels rather than for food, Jacques Diouf said in a speech at the University of Havana.

“The result is nearly 100 million tons of cereals that have been removed from the food market to satisfy energy needs,” he said.

Diouf, who was in Cuba to study moves being made by the communist government to cope with the world food crisis, said corn and wheat outputs were being particularly hard hit.

Traditional farming systems may be “radically” upended by the large and growing energy market, said Diouf, who is a fierce critic of biofuels.

“The use of agricultural resources for the energy market may introduce a completely new paradigm in world agriculture,” he said.

“If energy prices remain high and the production of primary materials for the energy market continue to be an economically viable activity, the result will be a turnaround in the tendency towards decreasing real prices … and, consequently, food will continue to become more and more expensive,” he warned.

The World Bank estimates that food prices have almost doubled over the past three years. Its president, Robert Zoellick, has said two billion people are affected by the food crisis.(PDI)

15,000 ha of Bicol rice lands idle without irrigation water

July 21, 2008

LEGAZPI CITY—Some 15,000 ha of irrigated rice lands in Bicol have been idle for the past years because of broken irrigation systems, according to the top official of the agency.

Inoperative and old the irrigation systems nationwide which had been worn-out by time and damaged by typhoons have reached 368,000 ha of rice lands, roughly equivalent to 29, 440,000 sacks of palay losses in one cropping season, revealed acting Administrator Carlos S. Salazar.

Salazar said the inoperative old irrigation systems around the country are portions of the 1.2 million ha originally covered by irrigation facilities built since NIA was founded on June 22, 1963 during the incumbency of the late President Diosdado Macapagal.

Salazar said it is estimated that a hectare of rice land can feed 40 persons a year, so that, with the estimated number of persons a hectare of rice land provide for the grains requirements, the losses in rice production could had feed some 14,720,000 Filipinos.

He said the Arroyo administration needs some P22 billion for the full restoration of the irrigation systems of the 368,000 ha of rice lands that he said targeted to be accomplished in the year 2010.

Salazar said the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the irrigation systems have been started in 2006 with 22,000 ha of rice lands re-irrigated and another 25,000 ha more in 2007 while this year, the NIA targets to restore 100,000 ha.

He said the national government has to allocate at least P6 billion a year for the next three years to accomplish the target of irrigation systems’ restoration and improve grains production amid looming food crisis.

Salazar said in Bicol region some 15,000 ha of formerly irrigated rice lands lost irrigation water.

He said the costs of restoration of the irrigation systems run in hundreds of millions of pesos in most areas and he cited the Libmanan-Cabusao irrigation system in the first district of Camarines Sur which has an allocation of P259 million this year.

With a firm-up service area of 2,076 ha and 2,183 farmer-beneficiaries, the Libmanan-Cabusao irrigation system’s restoration and redesign would cost the government some P670,6007,3000.

As the operational cost soars with the cost of petroleum, Salazar said the operation of the pump becomes unfeasible and the irrigation service inoperable.

The redesign and restoration of the Libmanan-Cabusao irrigation system comprised a dam worth P275,544,000; diversion canal worth P106,063,300; and extension to 4,000 ha the service area which will cost the national government some P290 million.

Salazar said the Libmanan-Cabusao irrigation system would be replaced with gravity-driven irrigation system from pump-fed irrigation system.(BicolMail)

Editorial Cartoon: Bagsak 02

July 19, 2008

Agriculture – F

Lawmaker slams GMA’s agri plan

July 19, 2008

Food crisis reflects governance woes

BAGUIO CITY — The present food crisis Filipinos are suffering from is but a reflection of a bigger crisis of our country, a visiting Liberal Party official told barangay captains during a forum here Thursday morning.

Summarizing his talk on the current rice crisis at the City Travel Hotel, here, Rep. Lorenzo Tañada of the 4th District of Quezon said the food crisis reflects a crisis in governance. He said the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government had the chance to govern for nine years, yet it wasted the opportunity to actually turn things around for the poor farmers and fisher folk.

Tañada criticized the GMA administration’s program for the agriculture sector as top-down and lacking grassroots consultation. He said he would rather increase the farmers’ income by doing away with costly fertilizers and pesticides and ending up with farmers earning more.

GMA launched its FIELDS (for fertilizers; irrigation/infrastructure; extension services; loans; dryers; and seeds) in the National Food Summit in early April. In her visit to Abra for the regional peace assembly, the president also boasted of her administration’s agricultural productivity program, where she earmarked P10 million for Cordillera farm-to-market roads, besides allocations for a bridge in a remote Abra town.

According to Tañada, however, the farmers’ dependence on high-priced chemical inputs defeats the government’s purpose to fight poverty. “They just produce more but they also spend more on chemicals that eventually destroy the land,” he said.

Tañada also assailed the GMA government’s lack of sense of priority for agrarian reform. He said a land use policy is pending in congress because lawmakers in the Lower House also have blood relations with elective public officials in the local government units, in whose interests the reins to classify lands rest.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, early June certified as urgent House Bill No. 4077, which provides for a five-year extension for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The said bill provides for an allocation of P100 million ($2.27 million at the June 6 exchange rate of $1:P44.14).

“My final call is for government to de-politicize food security as it is an important commodity,” Tañada told the local officials here. # Lyn V. Ramo(NorDis)

Organic agriculture persists in Ifugao town

July 19, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — Mayoyao in Ifugao is just among the Cordillera towns that remain living testaments to the viability of organic agriculture, especially for indigenous rice.

Mayoyao town in Ifugao has maintained most of its rice farms on zero chemical fertilizers, according to municipal agriculturist Joe Choy-awon, who was among the participants in the three-day orientation on the fertilizer subsidy partnership program of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Choy-awon said Mayoyao farmers use available technology to produce organic fertilizers that sustain their rice fields from transplanting to harvest time.

Indigenous knowledge at work

“The secret lies in the land preparation when farmers would just dump all kinds of weeds taken from the rice terraces,” Choy-awon told this reporter. He adds, the land preparation is done two months before transplanting the seedlings from the seedbed, to give the weeds and rice hull time to rot in the rice paddies. Rice hull from the previous harvest make up the bulk of local materials used to enrich the soil.

Farmers also put a liquid organic fertilizer from banana stalks and molasses fermented for at least seven days.

Land preparation is done manually with the indigenous Mayoyao farmers “plowing” with their bare hands and pressing down the weeds with their feet, until the green manure is embedded in the rice paddies, according to Choy-awon who narrated the indigenous practice on producing natural organic fertilizers.

After the rice seedlings are all transplanted, farmers usually clean the stone walls holding the terraces in place and all the weeds get into the paddy.

Sunflower, or the common marapait, which grows abundantly in most Cordillera provinces, is utilized to enhance soil fertility in the seedbed, according to Choy-awon. “Simply cut leaves and the young twigs and leave these on the seedbed 10 to 15 days before adding the palay to germinate,” he said.

“The yield remains at the maximum levels,” said Choy-awon, adding that Mayoyao continues to produce some three to four metric tons per hectare for every harvest season.

Only a portion of only two of Mayoyao’s 27 barangays are using inorganic fertilizers. “These are the areas where the soil fertility has dwindled,” according to Choy-awon.

Indigenous Mayoyao rice

The good thing about organic farming is that it allows the indigenous rice varieties to persist. Mayoyao still produces traditional rice varieties, the most common ones are red rice phajlar and phu-an; and white rice chumajaw and jampon, all planted in November and June.

Rain-fed varieties include both red and white varieties of linawa, which are planted in July and harvested in December.

Indigenous glutinous rice varieties are also existent in Mayoyao. The red variety is called chukitan, while the red is simply diket.

“All these are grown with organic fertilizers,” according to Choy-awon.

Barely affordable rice

Choy-awon is among local officials who stood against the procurement of inorganic fertilizers from the internal revenue allotment differentials for 2001 and 2004 to enhance rice productivity and encourage farmers to produce more rice.

In his reaction during the open forum, he asked if the 50% of the town’s IRA differential intended for local food security program could be utilized to subsidize the National Food Administration (NFA) or buy a shredder instead of commercial fertilizers.

Choy-awon said an ordinary Cordillera farmer could barely afford to buy fertilizers. At P1,700 to P1,900 per sack of the common fertilizer urea, the farmer would rather buy the cheaper government-subsidized rice from the NFA, he said.

He also espouses the idea that the IRA share be used to subsidize rice procurement, instead of using it to buy commercial fertilizers. A cavan of commercial rice is around P2,000.

Farmers cannot buy the commercial rice now, according to Choy-awon. He said, instead of assisting in fertilizers, the government could help the farmers directly by subsidizing the NFA so that more cheap rice could be distributed to the poor people.

“I still do not know the effect of inorganic fertilizers on the indigenous rice varieties,” Choy-awon said, adding that the land treated with the chemical inputs usually lose their fertility. Palay, he said, may be attacked by insects and rodents, following his argument that rice on the table is what farmers need.

Hybrid rice varieties depend on inorganic fertilizers as a requirement to yield more, according to the DA personnel in the forum.

The government will only subsidize the June-October 2008 cropping season.

Fertilizer subsidy

The DA-LGU partnership on fertilizer subsidy program proposes a local government subsidy for four sacks of fertilizers and DA shoulders the subsidy for another two per hectare of rice land this cropping season which is June to October. With P250 subsidy for each sack, the farmer will shoulder around P1,500 per sack for the first six sacks he would use for a hectare.

LGUs are enjoined to share at least 20% of their IRA differentials to this project envisioned to meet the 17 million metric tons target rice yield before the year ends.

DA asked LGUs up to the barangay level to list down farmers willing to undergo the fertilizer program.

In Mayoyao, some 710 hectares, or more than half of the town’s 1,296-hectare rice farms, have been identified for the program.

Some P37.8 million has been allocated for fertilizer subsidy in the Cordillera, according to rice program Coordinator Virgie Tapat. # Lyn V. Ramo(NorDis)

Mini-hydro to save Ifugao terraces

July 19, 2008

LAGAWE, Ifugao — Ifugao Governor Teddy Baguilat Jr., Sec. Angelo Reyes of Department of Energy (DoE) and Mitsuru Shimizu, project manager of e8, signed a memorandum of agreement for the construction of a mini-hydro in Ambangal, Kiangan, Ifugao Wednesday in Taguig, Metro-Manila.

The Ambangal Mini-hydro project was conceptualized in 2003 for the preservation of the Ifugao rice terraces and for cheaper source of electricity for the province.

The project which features the development of a run-of-river hydro-power plant (200 kW) will be funded and implemented by e8 through the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) with the support of the Department of Energy and the Provincial Government of Ifugao.

Community consultations and pre-feasibility studies were conducted last year and the year-long feasibility study started in the second quarter of 2007. The construction of the said mini-hydro project is estimated to start third quarter this year after the acquisition of the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) from the involved communities and will begin operations in 2009.

The e8 is a non-profit organization composed of nine leading electricity companies from the G8 countries that promote sustainable development through electricity sector projects and human capacity building activities in developing countries worldwide.

G8 is an acronym for the Group of Eight, or the most powerful countries in the world, that includes Japan, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Russia and the US.

Toyoto Matsuoka of e8 said part of the project’s power sales will go to a rice terraces conservation fund to be used in the rehabilitation of damaged rice terraces and communal irrigations, reforestation project, and enhancement and promotion of traditional culture programs.

According to Reyes, “The terraces is in a rapidly deteriorating state and is needing repair. This project is well designed as it incorporates environmental, social, cultural, economic, and historical aspects. It provides livelihood and income to the community thus improving the way of life of the people and enhances one of the wonders of the world currently in danger of being enlisted from the heritage sites of Unesco.”

“This project is a miracle not only for me but for the people of Ifugao. It will provide IFELCO (Ifugao Electric Cooperative) with cheaper source of energy.” said . Baguilat. “The project once completed will serve as a stepping stone for other investors to invest on social enterprise projects in Ifugao. We will devote our time, effort, and logistics for the success of this project.” # Robie Halip(NorDis)

Albay farmers use ‘bunkol’ in rice planting

July 9, 2008

LIGAO CITY — On top of Kawa-Kawa hill in this city, upland rice farmers use “bunkol” tools in planting Dinorado seedlings, a variety of rice that produces first class and very aromatic grains favored by wealthy families in Bicol.

Bunkol is a long bamboo tube with knifelike shape on the lower portion to perforate the dregs, having a slot running its length.

As it pounds the ground, it produces a sound that reverberates far and wide like a talking drum. The Kawa-Kawa Hill has about 236-meter elevation from the ground that provides a panoramic view of the city and beyond.

The hill looks like a giant frying pan overlooking the city. Downhill is the Carmelite Sisters and a resettlement area where typhoon victims and those displaced by the the most recent flashfloods from Mt. Mayon are now safely housed.

Several upland farmers, with their women carrying Dinorado seedlings, were seen sowing in the ‘bunkol’ or ‘hasok’ manner which is primitive way of farming still being practiced by upland farmers here despite the modern techniques being employed by most farmers in the lowland.

The upland farmers work faster with their “bunkol tools” creating a humming sound while the women make “bubod” (inseminating) of the seeds on the holed grounds.

Former Albay Gov. Fernando Gonzalez said the bunkol type of farming is Dinorado rice planting introduced by the upland farmers’ ancestors.

He said ‘bunkol’ is traditionally used as an instrument to communicate with fellow settlers who are situated in distant villages, especially those in hazard prone areas.

BUNKOL FARMING. Up the Kawa-Kawa hill in Ligao City, upland farmers use the Bamboo tools during the planting of Dinorado rice variety. RHAYDZ B. BARCIA

(BicolMail)

Food security of the people in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya being threatened

June 20, 2008

KASIBU, Nueva Vizcaya — Food security of indigenous peoples in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya is threatened by large-scale mining operations of OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI) and Oxiana-Royal Co.

At the same time, the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) process under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) brings disunity among the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) residing in the mining-affected areas.

Different organizations like the Philippine Network for the Environment (PNE)-Kalikasan, and the Regional Development Center-Katinnulong Daguiti Umili iti Amianan (RDC-Kaduami) which is a member of the EED TFIP or EED Philippine Partners for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, joined the Congressional hearing with their partner Save the Valley Environmental Alliance together with the local people organizations.

The Committee on National Cultural Communities of the House of Representatives conducted two on-site hearings and investigations in June 7-9, 2008 in Brgy. Kakidugen and Brgy. Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya which are the sites of Oxiana-Royal co and Oceana Gold,respectively.

Indigenous peoples expressed their concern about the adverse impacts that these mining operations will bring to the environment and their sources of livelihood and subsistence.

“How do these mining operations address the food crisis of the people? We have been displaced from our ancestral lands in Ifugao and Benguet due to mining operations yet we are still facing the same problem here. We have witnessed the destructive impacts that these mining operations brought to the environment and we cannot allow this to happen again here. The people in these areas already have a sustainable source of livelihood than what these mining companies claim to provide upon entry of these operations,” said Lucas Buay of Kasibu Inter-Tribal Response for Ecological Development (KIRED).

The municipality of Kasibu has a wide forest area, making up about 30% of the total land area. It is proven that almost all crops except mango are suitable in this area.The primary agricultural products of the province are still rice and corn, but this gateway to the Cagayan Valley is envisioned to be the regional center for fruit and vegetable production and spice-based industries.

“We cannot let the entry of these mining companies destroy our lands as Kasibu is considered the citrus capital of the country, with an annual output of about 10 million kilograms of oranges from an estimated 20,000 hectares of citrus plantations. The citrus farmers stand by its position that agriculture is still the sustainable development for the people as our independent study on the success of citrus industry here would show. We do not want mining here,” Alfonso Namuhje II of the Mallabing Tribal Development Association (MTDP) said.

In Nueva Vizcaya, about 40% of its total population of 366,962 (based from the 2000 census) is comprised of IPs. It is home to the Bugkalots, Ifugaos, Ibalois, Gaddangs, Isinais, Ikalahans and Ilongots. Bugkalot, a group of IPs from Nueva Vizcaya, has entered into a peace covenant through a blood compact in 1950s with other IP groups who have migrated to this area after they had been driven away from their ancestral lands.

The areas stated in the mining permit granted to the mining companies are within an ancestral land claim by the Bugkalots who applied for Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claims (CADC), through the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

“We were not consulted by the NCIP during the process of securing the FPIC certificate because we are only migrant IPs in the areas and we are not holders of CADC. But there was no such thing in the provisions of the IPRA that migrant IPs could not be consulted, especially that we have been here for three decades now,” Fidel Opay of the Lower Muta Valley Farmers’ Federation (LMVFF) explained.

The FPIC process is being questioned because of the bribery and deception controversies in securing the certificate. “ Our peace pact with the Bugkalot tribe is also threatened to be negated because of this conflict that arises due to these controversies,” Opay added.

Mayor Romeo Tayaban of Kasibu, who was one of the resource speakers during the hearing said, “mining operations claim that they will bring development to the people in Kasibu. What kind of development is this if our people are disunited? We were once a peaceful community, but these issues have divided us because of these operations.” # Sherry Mae Soledad(NorthernDispatch)

Ipatupad ang GARB — magsasaka ng Ilokos

June 20, 2008

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte — “Tunay na reporma sa lupa ang kailangan ng mga magsasaka at hindi ang mga bogus na programa tulad ng Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).”

Ito ang panawagan ng mga magsasaka ng Ilocos sa kanilang paggunita sa anibersaryo ng CARP noong Hunyo10.

Ayon kay Zaldy Alfiler, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation (Stop Exploitation), dahil sa mga bogus na programa sa reporma sa lupa tulad ng CARP, nananatiling mailap ang pangarap ng mga magsasaka na magkaroon ng sariling lupang bubungkalin at lumaya mula sa pyudal na pagsasamantala.

Ayon sa datos ng Stop Exploitation at ng Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), mula noong maipatupad ang CARP noong 1988, mahigit 9,500 na malalaking panginoong maylupa ang nagmamay-ari ng 2,820,000 ektarya ng lupa o 20% ng lupaing pang-agrikultura. Sa loob ng 20 taon, halos hindi nabawasan ang mga pagmamay-ari ng mga panginoong maylupa dito kung kaya naman 70% ng mga magsasaka ay nakikisaka.

Kanselasyon

Dagdag pa ni Alfiler, “Numanpay adda dagiti inwaras ti gobyerno babaen ti Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) a Certificate of Land Transfer (CLT) ken Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA), in-inut met a makankanselar dagitoy gapu ti panagkumplot dagiti apo’t daga ken DAR. Adu a dagdaga a naiwaras kadagiti mannalon ti ginuyod met laeng dagiti apo’t daga.” (Totoong may mga lupaing ipinamahagi ng gobyerno sa amamagitan ng CLT at CLOA ng DAR, pero unti-unti ring binabawi ito ng mga panginoong-maylupa).

Sa rehiyon ng Ilocos, tampok na kaso ang pagkansela ng mga CLT sa Cabugao, Ilocos Sur. Ayon kay Elmer Serrano, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Alyansa ti Kumpang ti Cabugao (Alkumpac), 37 magsasaka ang nakaambang mawalan ng lupa sa Brgy. Bato at 37 din sa Lipit kung magtatagumpay ang mga claimant ng mga lupain sa kanilang laban sa DAR.

Kung susuriin, ang mga lupaing iyon ay pag-aari na namin dahil kami ang nagsasaka at hindi ang mga nais magmay-ari nito,” giit ni Serrano.

Ang mga nasabing CLT ay ipinagkaloob noong dekada ’80 sa mga magsasaka ng Bato sa ilalim ng gobyernong Marcos na inaari ni Maximina Sajor na di-umano’y nagsanla kay Don Miguel Florendo bilang pambayad ng utang. Sa Lipit naman, may tatlong nag-aari ng lupain ngunit ang mga ito ay walang maipakitang papeles. Hanggang sa kasalukuyan ay wala pa ring nangyayari sa kaso sa DAR.

Ipatupad ang GARB

Sa pahayag ng Stop Exploitation, ipinaabot nito ang pakikiisa sa pagsasabatas ng Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) na inihanda ng Bayan Muna, Anakpawis at Gabriela Women’s Party.

Ani Elizabeth Alfiler ng Solidarity of Ilocos Associations of Women (Silaw), organization ng mga magsasakang kababaihan, layon ng House Bill 3059 na wakasan ang pagmomonopolyo at pagkontrol ng mga panginoong maylupa at mga dayuhang kapitalista na lupa.

“Daytoy ti pudpudno a mangipatungpal ti libre a pannakaiwaras ti daga ken mangikkat ti aniaman a klase ti panaggundaway iti kaaw-awayan. Panggep pay daytoy a pangatoen ti produksyon ken pastrek ti mannalon ken babbai,” (Ito ang tunay na magpapatupad ng libreng pamamahagi ng lupa at papawi sa anumang klase ng pagsasamantala sa kanayunan. Layon nitong pataasin ang produksyon at kita ng magsasaka at kababaihan) paliwanag ni Alfiler.

Hindi pabor and Silaw sa panukala ng gobyernong Arroyo sa ekstensyon ng CARP, ani Alfiler . “Magpapatuloy ang kawalan ng lupa at pagsasamantala sa mga magsasaka dahil ang makikinabang lamang nito ay si Gloria Arroyo kasama ang kakuntsaba niyang mga panginoong maylupa at dayuhang kapital,” giit pa nito.

Ayon kay Ireneo Agabao, isang lider ng Alkumpac, umaasa pa rin sila na makakamit nila ang kanilang pangarap. “Sa aming sama-samang pagkilos, maipapatupad ang tunay na reporma sa lupa,” pahayag ni Tata Inyong. # Rod Tajon(NorthernDispatch)

Bukas na Liham para kay Arsobispo Ledesma

June 19, 2008

9 Hunyo 2008
(Bisperas ng ika-20 taon ng Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program)

Mahal na Arsobispo,

Kami ang mga mamamayang nagbungkal sa lupa, nagpayaman ng bukirin, nagpakain sa sambayanan;
Kami ang mga magsasakang nagdidilig ng pawis sa binhing bubuhay sa lipunan, nagsusunog ng balat;
Mangingisda kaming nakipagtuos sa hanging habagat, sumisid sa mga perlas sa pusod ng karagatan ng buhay;
Kami ang mga tagabundok, mga naninirahan sa mga sapa at baybayin, sa mga dukhang dampa sa kagubatan, na tumuklas sa kayamanan ng lupa, nagdiskubre ng mga kaalaman, nagbuntis sa lahat ng bawat bagong bagay bunga ng aming direktang pakikisangkot sa paggawa.

Kami ang mga timawa sa lipunang alipin; mga Andres Bonifaciong lumaban sa pyudal na panggigipit ng kapangyarihan ng simbahan at estado noong panahon ng Espanyol;
Kami ang mga binansagang bandido sapagkat gusto naming bawiin ang lupang inagaw ng mga prayle; naghimagsik sa harap ng mga walang awang gwardya sibil para ipaglaban ang nararapat at makatarungan;
Kami ang mga tinraydor ng mga nagbenta-ng-kaluluwang mga Makapili.
Kami ang labing-apat na mga magsasakang pinatay sa paanan ng Mendiola.
Kami ang mga hindi isinulat sa mga dahon ng kasaysayan; nakamarka sa aming mga noo ang sumpa ng daan-taong pagkaalipin.

Kami ang walong daang magsasakang nanganganib mapalayas sa kwatro syentos ektaryang lupa sa loob ng Central Mindanao University;
Ipinagpipilitan ng mga may-kapangyarihang ito ay hindi sa amin, at kukunin dahil anila’y hindi para sa gamit pagsasaka;
Sabi nila, hindi ito kasali sa mga ipapamigay; wala kaming payapang gabi sa takot na posible itong dagitin ng patakarang “eksklusyon at eksempsyon” ng batas na gusto mong palawigin pa.
Kami ang mga nagsasakang itinaboy sa kalupaan ng Hacienda Puyat sa Batangas; mga hampas-lupa sa Aguinaldo Estate sa Tartaria Cavite.

Kami ang mga nagbubungkal na nangangarap maangkin ang tatlong libong ektaryang kalupaan sa Tagoloan at Villanueva na pinamamahalaan ng PHIVIDEC, at sa mahigit dos syentos beynte mil ektarya ng Dole at Del Monte Philippines sa Bukidnon;
Kami ang mga umiiyak sa pagbibigay ng higit sa reserbasyon ng lupa para sa kagamitang industriyal;  mga komersyal na negosyo, plantasyon ng kape, cacao at goma handog sa panginoong Amerika habang nauubos ang bukiring pagtatamnan ng kakainin ng ating mamamayan;
Kami ang naniniwala na sapat na ang krisis sa bigas at laganap na kagutuman upang iyong ikondena sa mga pulpito ang dalang delubyo ng kasalukuyang programa sa repormang agraryo.
Kami ang mga nagbubungkal sa Hacienda Zobel sa Batangas.

Kami ang mga nagtitiis sa pagbabayad upang mapasaamin ang lupang pinaniniwalaan naming matagal nang nabayaran;
Sa loob ng mahahabang taon, inihahatid namin ang rentang tersyo, sangkapat, kalahati sa pintuan ng bahay na marmol ng aming mga panginoong walang ibang hawak kundi ang mga papeles na ang lupa’y sa kanila, habang namamaluktot sa gutom ang aming mga supling.
Matagal na kaming nakabayad kahit wala kaming utang.
Kami ang mahigit tatlong daang magsasaka sa Gingoog na nagbayad ng “makatarungang bayad” sa mga panginoon alinsunod sa itinakda ng CARP, subalit binawian pa rin nila ng CLOA, CLT at EP.
Kami ang mga nagsasaka sa Hacienda Looc at Hacienda Roxas sa Nasugbu; mga itinakwil sa Hacienda Yulo sa Laguna.

Kami ang mga magsasakang ipinatawag ninyo sa isang konsultasyon tungkol sa aming kahirapan, madali sanang dinggin ang aming mga hiling; mga anak rin kami ng Diyos na dapat marinig.
Kinamumuhian namin ang kasalukuyang pekeng programa ng repormang agraryo, dalawampung taon nitong ipinagkanulo ang aming mga pangarap.
Nakakapanindig balahibo ang turingang ang programang ito ay katumbas ng panlipunang katarungan at pagkakapantay-pantay, inilibing nito ang anumang natitira pa naming pag-asa.
Nais gamitin ng mga oportunista ang aming kahirapan para magkapera, inilalako nila ang larawan ng aming kawalan saan mang sulok para maghanap ng mananakaw, na para bang hindi pa sapat ang syento kwarenta y tres bilyong piso na kanilang natangay nitong nakaraang  dalawampung mahahabang taon.
Kami ang mga tinuruan ninyong lumaban nang mapayapa, gamitin ang mga batas upang igiit ang aming mga karapatan.  Ngunit anong ginawa nila sa amin sa munisipyo ng Escalante, sa HaciendaLuisita?
Kami ang patuloy na natututo sa mayamang karanasan mula sa pakikipagtunggali sa         aming mga mambubusabos.

Kami ang mga alipin ng modernong panahon; habang kami’y nagkakayod upang kumain, sinisi nila ang kapalaran bilang salarin sa aming kahirapan, habang tinatakan kami ng samu’t saring mga marka sa aming mga noo bilang mga komunista, terorista, at iba pang mga bansag bunga ng aming pagpupunyaging magkalaman kahit mumo ang aming mga bitukang walang laman.
Ginamit nila ang mga rehas, kinitil ang aming mga mithiin; hayun, ang mga magnanakaw, malaya, nakaluhod at sumasamba sa kapital, nalalasing sa mamahaling alak; malinaw na hindi sumasakit ang ulo ng hukom para sila’y habulin.
Mahal sila ng kapalaran.

Kami ang mga magsasaka saan mang dako nitong Amihan, nagbungkal sa lupang hitik sa mga kwento ng magiting na paglaban sa aming parang walang katapusang pagkaalila;
Kami ang Dalmacio Gandinao, Nestor Ladica, at marami pang ibang walang pangalan, nagbahagi ng aming dugo at hininga para sa kalayaan ng kanayunan;
Kami ang mga amang tinadtad ng bala habang humihingi ng aming karapatang bumungkal; mga asawang binunutan ng kuko para umaming NPA; mga inang naghihintay sa anak na dinukot ng mga di-kilalang nagtatago sa dilim ng gabi.
Kami ang mga namatay subalit buhay sa alaala ng bawat mahirap na magsasaka sa lahat ng sulok.

Kami ang mga inismiran ang papel sa bawat pagsulong ng kasaysayan;
Nananaghoy ang lupa habang itinuturo sa mga aroganteng intelektwal, mga mapagkunwaring mga henyo, mga naghahanap  ng daan patungo sa bagong Israel, na kami, kami ang mganawawalang hibla sa krusada, ang pinaghahanap na kaputol sa masaganang bukas.

Hindi man nila lingunin ang kasalukuyang mukha ng aming pagkabusabos, kalikasan ang magtuturong bigyang halaga ang aming panaghoy. Bawat panaghoy, paglaban.  Bawat paglaban, tagumpay.

Huwag asahang aming hihintayin ang mga kamay, kasama ang iba pang uring pinagsasamantalahan, walang tigil naming babaybayin ang daan patungong kalayaan.

This poem was read 8pm of June 9, 2008  in the Vigil Rally at Gaston Park, Cagayan de Oro City. Originally in Cebuano, it was collectively written and edited by the following Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) member organizations in Northern Mindanao:
-Misamis Oriental Farmers’ Association (MOFA)
-Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Bukidnon  (KASAMA)
-Unyon sa mga Mag-uumasa Agusan Norte (UMAN)
-Nagkahiusang mga Mag-uuma sa Agusan Sur (NAMASUR)
-Gingoog City Farmers’ Association (GCUFA)
-Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Lanao Norte (KAMAS LANAO)
-Pambansang Lakas ng mga Mamamalakaya sa Pilipinas (Pamalakaya-North Mindanao)
-Kalumbay Lumad Organizatio

Acronyms Used

PHIVIDEC -Philippine Veterans Investment Development Coporation
CARP – Comprehensive Agreement on Agrarian Reform Program
CLOA- Certificate of Land Ownership Award
CLT- Certificate of Land Title
EP – Emancipation Patent
NPA – New People’s Army

Editorial Cartoon: The Real Tune

June 16, 2008

Very bad tune.

NorthCot converts 1,000 hectare land to ricefield

June 16, 2008

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/14 June) — To secure food sufficiency in North Cotabato, the provincial government is set to convert a thousand hectares of agricultural lands in Pikit town into a ricefield.

Cotabato Gov. Jesus Sacdalan conducted an ocular inspection of the area in Pikit town this week.

Together with Sacdalan were Pikit municipal Mayor Sumulong Sultan, Administrator Carlos Salazar of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and Director Silvino Tejada of the Department of Agriculture Bureau of Soils and Water Management.

The NIA has been working on a portion of the Maridagao River Irrigation System canal in Barangay Gocotan in Pikit.

The construction of the irrigation canal, according to NIA officials, is already 90 percent complete.

The project is undertaken jointly by the provincial government of North Cotabato, NIA, and Pikit LGU.

NIA project engineers said the system test run is set on June 18.

“The project being undertaken would open up additional rice production areas in support of the food security program of the national government,” said Sacdalan.

While work on the irrigation canal is continuing, the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist in coordination with the Municipal Agricultural Office of Pikit has started organizing the farmers in preparation for the full operation of the irrigation system.

Acting Provincial Agricultural Officer Engr. Eliseo Mangliwan said farmers from the four service barangays of Gocotan, Tinutulan, Balabac and Nabundas have already formed an irrigation association.

Mangliwan also said that five farm tractors of the provincial government started land preparation work in the area on Thursday.

Other assistance provided for the farmers include 1,000 bags of certified rice seeds from the Department of Agricultural and fertilizers.

“More than our contribution to food security, the project will further strengthens peace efforts in this part of the country,” said Sacdalan. (MindaNews)

Bukidnon legislators accept DENR offer tour minesite

June 16, 2008

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/15 June) — Bukidnon legislators will not hold their regular session on June 25 in favor of a “study tour” of a plant and quarry of a multinational cement company that supposedly showcases “responsible mining practices.”

The provincial board members agreed on June 11 to accept the invitation of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for an “educational plant tour” dubbed “Dalaw Aral sa Minahan.”

The tour’s only destination is the plant and quarry of the Holcim Philippines Manufacturing Corporation in Lugait town, Misamis, Oriental, according to the letter of invitation by Juanito Manzano, MGB OIC regional director for Northen Mindanao to Vice Governor Alex Calingasan on June 3.

Board member Glenn Peduche, chair of the provincial board committee on environment protection, declined to answer requests by telephone for him to explain the decision to go on tour.

Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr vowed to keep Bukidnon from large-scale mining based on resolutions passed by the Sagguniang Panlalawigan before to seal-off the province from large-scale mining operations.

Board member Nemesio Beltran Jr confirmed that the board’s staff was told to make arrangements that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan “would like to go”.

Beltran told MindaNews he would still try to convince his colleagues not to hold it on a session day. “Mining is not a large industry here in Bukidnon and we don’t even allow large-scale mining here,” he said.


Beltran said it should not push through as there would be an environment summit in the province on June 26 to 27, organized by the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office.

“I will talk them out of it this coming Wednesday (June 18) I will not go myself,” he said.

Beltran said the organizers offered free meals and free ride to and from Malaybalay City.

Manzano said in his letter the tour is part of the activities of the DENR for the celebration of Environment Month .

”We have lined up activities to give significance and noble tribute to mark the celebration with emphasis on information, education and communication campaign,” Manzano said.

He also said it is intended to “promote responsible small-scale and large-scale mining operations in the region.”

Manzano described the Holcim plant as a “model cement plant and quarry in the country showcasing responsible mining practices, best environmental management and corporate responsibility.”

He said the plant was twice awarded the Presidential Mineral Industry Environmetal Award, among others. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)

===============

My Take:

1. Corrupt move.  This is the common practice being done by the mining companies: invite legislators to a “tour” with freebies and behind the door add-ons.  commonly, the “invited” public oficial would sing the tune of the mining companies after the “tour.”

2. State corrupted.  The MGB spearheaded the “tour”? What the hell… Nagtatrabaho na pala sila ngayon para sa mga mining companies.

Ombudsman findings unfair – lawmakers

June 15, 2008

By Delon Porcalla
Sunday, June 15, 2008

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Congressmen linked to the P728-million fertilizer scam in 2004 yesterday decried as “unfair” the initial findings of the Ombudsman implicating them in the misuse of public funds.

Quezon City Rep. Nanette Daza, one of the lawmakers named by the Ombudsman in the scam, explained that as a matter of procedure, it is the Department of Agriculture – not the congressmen – that identifies what projects should be undertaken in a particular district.

“No such thing as fertilizer, no such thing as overprice,” Daza told The STAR.

“In fairness to the other congressmen, we have never identified projects. These are identified by them (DA), not by us.”

Daza, now on her third and last term, could not recall though if the DA even provided her with towable shredders as reported.

“That I can’t recall. But if indeed there is I would have endorsed this to Payatas where this is needed. I still have to check the records,” she said.

Daza also cited her highly urbanized district as another reason why she cannot possibly avail herself of a fertilizer subsidy.

“My district and the NCR (National Capital Region) doesn’t need fertilizers,” she said.

Former congressmen Oscar Gozos of Batangas and Federico Sandoval II of Malabon-Navotas also made the same defense.

Both denied having received fertilizers for farm use, but admitted receiving shredders.

“These are not our funds. These are DA funds. We’re not even involved in the bidding. All of these came from the executive department even if Congress has the power of the purse,” said Gozos, now the mayor of Lipa City in Batangas.

“It is the DA that disbursed these funds, not us,” he added. “I’m not a recipient (in the fertilizer list), although I suspect that my name was included. But I didn’t get any fertilizer, in whatever form.”

Sandoval, for his part, claimed he never received any fertilizer for his former district.

“I don’t know (about the fertilizers and overprice). It is the DA that conducts the bidding. What I got was a shredder. Alangan namang tanggihan ko? E para naman sa district namin iyun (How can I refuse that? Anyway, my district was identified as a recipient of that shredder).”

As leader of the 241-strong House of Representatives, Speaker Prospero Nograles expressed displeasure over the report, which was leaked to the media despite the confidential nature of cases handled by investigators.

But Nograles could not say whether former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante used the involved congressmen in the scam.

Bolante, who is now hiding and undergoing deportation proceedings in the US, allegedly masterminded the scheme to help bankroll President Arroyo’s campaign in the May 2004 presidential elections.

“Let us not telegraph in haste our opinions until there is clear and final findings of a prima facie case,” Nograles said.

“As a matter of fact, this premature disclosure is against the confidentiality nature of Ombudsman cases where only final resolutions are made public. The reason being that reputations of officials may be unduly harmed by premature disclosures,” he said in a text message to The STAR.

Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, who was also listed among the recipients, said congressmen “are not part of the process for the funds to be released. They may be correct that their districts were just recipients.”

An irate Makati City Rep. Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin, who in 2004 hurled invectives at Bolante, lashed back at Newsbreak for getting credit for the fertilizer expose.

“Newsbreak writes like they exposed it. I did and Newsbreak wouldn’t carry (the) story. Siguro nabili sila nuong una (Maybe then they were paid to kill the story),” Locsin said.

“Pu…ina, cleared daw ako ng mga p…iyan sa Ombudsman when ako ang nag-expose while ang lecheng opposition walang imik kasi sali sila. (… how can they say I was cleared by the Ombudsman when I was the one who exposed it, while those… opposition kept silent because they were part of it).”

“I demand a refund from everyone who got delivery. I need the money for the contract I put out on that asshole (Bolante). A clearance from the Pinoy Ombudsman is like a conviction from a US court, worse than useless. It is an insult,” Locsin said.

“I don’t allow monkeys to judge me. It is for me to decide that to do with the money in my name, not some monkey. Quote in full please. That’s what comes from giving chimps the right to hold public office,” Locsin said in a text message.

Former Tarlac representative and now Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, who was also on the list, said he and former Batanes representative Florencio “Butch” Abad were also used in the scam, even though they never applied for the program.

“This is rather a difficult situation since we are being used as a shield. Either way, the farmers will get angry. They read in the newspapers and ask us where (the money) is, and we say we’re not part of it, but they want to know why we didn’t get anything,” he said.

Aquino said they were told then the “guidelines” were still being processed, but he had received reports that several congressmen had already gotten their share. “Obviously, we were excluded,” he added.

Aquino nevertheless managed to secure a “certification” from Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap stating that his district in Tarlac was not a recipient of the fertilizer project.

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My Take:

This classic ‘doctor’s way’ (pandodoktor, hehehe) is another quality handiwork by the shadows (huge ones) lurking at the darker sections of Malacañan.  Sa tingin nyo, with jocjc’s situation e makakaya pa nyang makapagmaniobra ng ganyan?  Hehehehe never.

Someone in here did that, putting that opposition solons in the list to confuse the people and muddle the investigation.

Nice work to the Daddy of all suckers!

No soaring rice price in Bicol, says NFA

June 11, 2008

LEGAZPI CITY – What happened in Mindanao where the price of commercial rice had gone up to as much as P50 per kilo would not happen here in Bicol, said Edgar F. Bentulan, Director of the National Food Authority in Region 5.

Bentulan revealed that the price of commercial rice in Mindanao had really shot up to as much as P40 to P50 per kilo. He said he had found this out when he visited his family in Cagayan de Oro City recently.

“Because we had run out of rice, we tried to buy a half sack of rice from the local NFA dealer but we failed because every family was allotted only five kilos of rice. So we bought the cheapest commercial rice at P35 per kilo,” he said.

Bentulan said that the price of commercial rice had gone up in Mindanao because traders had been expecting the lean months when the cereal would be in short supply.

“We’re better off in Bicol because the highest price is only P35 per kilo and that is only for Masbate. Here in Legazpi City you can buy commercial rice at P31 to P32 per kilo,” the NFA chief said.

He also assured Bicolanos that the region had enough rice as 150,000 bags of rice from Vietnam were being unloaded at Tabaco port

“Excluding the 150,000 bags of rice from Vietnam, we have in our inventory 821,000 bags as buffer stock which could last for 114 days for the whole region,” Bentulan said.

The former NFA regional director of Region 12 said the decline in rice production in Mindanao could be attributed to conversion of some rice lands for the production or palm oil, sugar and corn. He also blamed climate change for the irregular rice planting season that has resulted in low harvest.

Farmers Ask CBCP: Support GARB, Not CARP Extension

June 11, 2008

Calling the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the Aquino regime “bogus,” farmers from Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and Mindanao regions ask the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to support House Bill No. 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) which the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran filed in the 14th Congress.

BY NOEL SALES BARCELONA
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

Calling the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the Aquino regime “bogus,” farmers from Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and Mindanao regions ask the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to support House Bill No. 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) which the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran filed in the 14th Congress.

This developed as some 1,000 farmers from Southern Tagalog were staging a “Lakbayan para sa Lupa, Pagkain at Hustisyang Panlipunan” (March for Land, Food and Social Justice).

In the weekly Kapihan sa CyPress media forum at the Treehouse Restaurant, Matalino St., in Quezon City last June 7, Orly Marcellana, secretary-general of the Katipunan ng Samahang Magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK or Association of Peasant Organizations in Southern Tagalog), a local chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines ), and currently the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance or Bayan) regional chair, said that history has already proven the futility of the existing agrarian reform program, which is now 20 years old.

“In the two decades of CARP’s implementation, the farmers in the region remained landless, hungry and poor. We have enough of this bogus land reform,” said Marcellana.

Marcellana insisted that only GARB can introduce an almost-perfect solution to the landlessness problem of farmers in the country.

Rev. Ray Galloaga of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), who works closely with the peasant folk in the region, cited the Scriptures and said that as part of the social justice program of Yahweh, Israelites-through their judges and kings-have implemented their own version of agrarian reform program

“Thus, it is rightful to support what the peasant-folks are fighting for right now and that is the passage of a progressive legislation on agrarian reform,” Galloaga said.

Earlier, Second National Rural Congress (NRC2) Chair and Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, expressed support to the extension of CARP.

CBCP even asked the President to certify the bill extending the CARP as urgent. She certified it as urgent early last week.

The Central Luzon experience

United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) president and now Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA or Union of Agricultural Workers) Rene Galang shared his own experience with CARP inside the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

“Instead of giving the lands to the farmers and farm-workers for them to till, they (the Cojuangcos) have given us the Stock Distribution Option (SDO), a scheme that paved way for more abuse. Now that the Supreme Court has finally decided in favor of the farmers, the Cojuangco clan still refuses to give the farmers’ part of the hacienda which our colleagues have already shed their blood for,” Galang said, referring to the November 16, 2004 massacre.

Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL or Alliance of Peasants in Central Luzon) chairman  Joseph Canlas said more and more lands are being grabbed by unscrupulous landlords and developers thus leaving more and more farmers landless and hungry.

Among the schemes used are crop conversion and land use conversion, in which lands are being developed into industrial and residential uses, and instead of being used for production of rice and other food lands are planted with cutflowers and other high-yielding crops, threatening the country’s food supply, Galang elaborated.

“That’s why, we are strongly supporting the bill that our beloved Ka Bel, filed in Congress,” said Galang.

CARP: the Mindanao experience

Mindanao has the same experience, said Antonio “Ka Tonying” Flores, KMP officer in Mindanao.

“Many lands have been classified as corporate farms, which can only be distributed if the corporation owning the farm voluntarily submits to CARP, as provided for by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988,” said Flores.

GARB

Incoming Anakpawis Rep. Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, said that he would be fighting hard for the passage of the GARB and will ensure that the farmers would win this battle.

Mariano joins thousands of farmers that are expected to flock the foot of Mendiola bridge, this June 10, CARP’s 20th anniversary. Contributed to Bulatlat

Farmers Kick Off Week-long March for New Land Reform Bill

June 11, 2008

No less than 1,500 farmers, fisherfolk, agricultural workers and peasant women from Southern Tagalog provinces – Mindoro Occidental, Mindoro Oriental, Quezon, Batangas, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal have kicked off a week long rural people’s march to dramatize their opposition against the proposal to extend the 20-year-old Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), and push for the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill No. 3059 principally authored by the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran.

BY GERRY ALBERT CORPUZ
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

No less than 1,500 farmers, fisherfolk, agricultural workers and peasant women from Southern Tagalog provinces – Mindoro Occidental, Mindoro Oriental, Quezon, Batangas, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal have kicked off a week long rural people’s march to dramatize their opposition against the proposal to extend the 20-year-old Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), and push for the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill No. 3059 principally authored by the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran.

Five of the biggest rural-based groups – Anakpawis, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines), Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya or National Alliance of Small Fisherfolk Organizations), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA or Union of Workers in Agriculture) and Amihan- National Federation of Peasant Women, in cooperation with Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK or Association of Peasant Organizations in Southern Tagalog) and Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog will spearhead the “Lakbayan ng mga Magsasaka para sa Lupa, Pagkain at Hustisyang Panlipunan” (Peasant March for Land, Food and Justice).

“GARB is Beltran’s legacy to the Filipino farmers. It is a landmark piece of legislation that recognizes the class interest and class power of the peasantry,” said Kasama-TK secretary general Orly Marcellana.

Marcellana added: “The rice crisis we are experiencing is proof that CARP has done nothing to solve the landlessness of peasants and the development of agriculture in the country. Since CARP was implemented, more farmers have been driven away from their lands and homes because of massive land grabbing and land use conversions made legal by CARP. This bogus land reform program now being directed by Arroyo is a pest to farmers.”

Lakbayan organizers added that peasant and rural people joining the march are expected to enter the National Capital Region (NCR) on June 8 and would hold a vigil in Baclaran Church on the same day. On June 9, the farmers would march from Baclaran to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) National Office in Quezon City for an anti-CARP and pro-GARB solidarity night. On June 10, the farmers would march from DAR to Mendiola in Manila to demand the rejection of CARP extension, and the passage of HB 3059.

20 years of injustice

“For millions of farmers and rural people, CARP is equivalent to 20 years of social injustice and extreme massacre of peasant land rights. It is nothing but a token symbol of land reform. It is about time to bury this shotgun piece of legislation six feet under,” KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said in a press statement.

“As far as truth- and justice-seeking farmers are concerned, the death of CARP is the new beginning for GARB, a landmark piece of legislation that will entail a thoroughgoing and justice driven agrarian reform program in the country. The free distribution of land to landless farmers is the corner stone of GARB which is a million times superior to the bankrupt character and orientation of CARP and CARP extension,” Ramos added.

Reply to detractors

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap told detractors of GARB and proponents of CARP extension that CARP beneficiaries themselves were victims of the twenty year old bogus agrarian reform program.

“Proponents of this bogus land reform program failed to explain the real score behind thousands of cases of land reform reversals, compounded by confiscation of land titles, thousands of cases of land use conversions, across-the country land grabbing extravaganza and the unexplained P143-billion ($3,240,793,201) taxpayers’ money spent for CARP, which all happened in the 20 years of CARP,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

“Now GARB detractors have the guts to tell the farmers that CARP is meant for social justice despite the fact the CARP failed the tillers of this land over the last 20 years. The ring leaders of the pro-CARP syndicate in and out of Malacañang are obscuring the truth in the name of their respective political and material agenda,” Hicap added.

“These pro-CARP extension hooligans and anti-GARB shenanigans are misleading the farmers for fear of losing their rackets in and out of the Arroyo syndicate,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

CARP victims

KMP’s Ramos and Pamalakaya’s Hicap cited at least 7 big cases in Southern Tagalog where CARP beneficiaries including fishermen were eased out from their farmlands to give way to land use conversion projects undertaken by big landlords, private developers and the government:

• 10,000 farmers and fisherfolk beneficiaries, all CARP beneficiaries are still locked in a battle against Fil-Estate, the Manila South Coast Development Corporation and SM of Henry Sy over 8,650 hectares of prime agricultural lands, which private developers intend to develop into a major eco-tourism hub in Hacienda Looc, Nasugbu in Batangas. The Department of Agrarian Reform cancelled their Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) and Emancipation Patents (EPs) to pave way for land use conversion.

• The CLOAs of CARP beneficiaries were revoked by DAR in Hacienda Roxas in Nasugbu, Batangas covering 7,183 hectares of sugar lands to give way to eco-tourism, residential and commercial projects to be funded by foreign and local investors.

• In Hacienda Puyat in Batangas, some 1,800 hectares of land were denied to supposed CARP beneficiaries to pave way for the construction of golf courses and other eco-tourism projects.

• The DAR allowed the exemption and conversion of 10,000 hectares of sugar lands to livestock farms, poultry farms, fishponds in Hacienda Zobel in Calatagan, Batangas, and also gave the right to the Ayala clan to land-grab an additional 2,000 hectares of foreshore land to deny agrarian claims of farmers and fishermen in 19 out of Calatagan’s 24 barangays (villages).

• In Carmen and Silang towns, DAR approved the conversion of 2,500 hectares of land into golf courses and residential areas by the Ayala land group of companies, denying farmer beneficiaries of their rights to utilize prime agricultural lands which they tilled for generations.

• In Aguinaldo Estate, Tartaria, Silang in Cavite, 2,000 farming families were displaced from their farmlands, after DAR gave the go-signal for investors to convert the 197- hectare estate to commercial subdivision and a high-end golf course.

• The DAR also facilitated the conversion of 7,100 hectare Hacienda Yulo in Canluibang, Laguna into an array of subdivisions and golf courses, and victimized 457 families, whose CLOAs were cancelled by the agrarian reform agency.

They said from 1994 up to 2007, about 1,302,375 hectares of prime agricultural lands have been placed by DAR under conversion and such terrible act led to the massive land reform reversals with the cancellation of land titles all over the region. The group said around 173,000 hectares of prime agricultural lands in the region have been already been converted for commercial purposes; leaving tens of thousands of supposed to be CARP beneficiaries landless.

In 1993, Pamalakaya, KMP and the Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra or Center for Genuine Agrarian Reform) held a preliminary assessment of CARP from 1988 to 1993, and one of the most striking results of the program was revealed – a total of 10,958 certificate of land transfers (CLTs), 9,133 EPs and 2,303 CLOAs were cancelled by DAR covering 32, 041 hectares of prime agricultural lands affecting over 22,000 CARP beneficiaries.

The groups said while farmlands belonging to farmers are perpetually targeted for landgrabbing and conversion under CARP, lands leased to foreign corporations like Dole and Del Monte Philippines remained untouched. It said foreign corporations managed to keep 220,000 hectares of agricultural lands because these lands were devoted to production of export crops.

P100 billion for CARP extension

Meanwhile, another GARB co-author, Bayan Muna (People First) Rep. Teodoro Casiño, said the Filipino people will be forced to fund a fatally flawed agrarian reform program to the tune of not less than P100 billion ($2,266,288,951) in taxpayers’ money if CAR is extended.

“Merely extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (RA 6657) without correcting its fatal defects will cost the Filipino taxpayer P100 billion ($2,266,288,951) in wasted funds,” Casiño said.

The Bayan Muna party list lawmaker recalled: “ In my interpellation…of Rep. Edcel Lagman, sponsor of HB 4077, he candidly admitted that the so-called “necessary reforms” in the proposed CARL extension bill do not address what even he admits are the flaws and glaring loopholes in RA 6657.”

“Lagman even called said loopholes “congenital defects” that have sabotaged the government’s agrarian reform program for the last 20 years,” Casiño added. The Bayan Muna solon said the most glaring of these defects in RA 6657 that HB 4077 fails to correct are:

1. The limited coverage of agrarian reform:

• The exclusion of lands that are technically classified as either forest, mineral, commercial or residential land even if these are tenanted and actually used or suitable for agriculture (Sec. 3)

• The exclusion of lands devoted to livestock, swine and poultry farms, fishponds, prawn farms, salt beds, fruit farms, orchards, vegetable and cut-flower farms, cacao, coffee and rubber plantations (Sec. 10)

• Allowing the conversion and exclusion of lands already awarded to farmer beneficiaries from the program (Sec. 65)

• Allowing landowners to retain their vast landholdings by instituting open-ended retention limits of five hectares for the owner plus three hectares per child, whether natural or adopted, legitimate or not (Sec. 6)

• Provisions for alternative modes of compliance as outlined in the definition of agrarian reform (Secs. 3 and Sections 29-31) on corporate and commercial farms that allows landowners to enter into stock distribution schemes, leasehold, joint venture,leaseback arrangements and other ways of going around the physical distribution of land to the ownership and control of the farmer beneficiaries. This leaves farmer beneficiaries confused, easily manipulated and exploited by landowners and vulnerable to corporate
backroom maneuvers.

2. A payment scheme that keeps farmers in a continued life of servitude, paying for the land at 6 percent interest per year for 30 years (Sec. 26). Thus, most farmer beneficiaries end up illegally mortgaging or selling their land just to pay the landowner or the Land Bank
.
3. A valuation and compensation scheme (Sections 17 and 18) that is so contentious and complicated that it opens a myriad of opportunities for graft and corruption. Thus, DAR is seen as of the most corrupt government agencies.

4. A “voluntary offer to sell” and “voluntary land transfer” scheme (Sections 19-21) that gives landowners the upper hand in imposing their will on their former tenants, with the connivance of unscrupulous DAR officials.

“These are the very reasons why the implementation of the agrarian reform program has taken a world-record breaking 20 long years with distressing results. What RA 6657 could not achieve in 20 years it can never achieve through a five year extension as long as these provisions remain. A CARP extension bill that fails to correct these most glaring defects is a bill that is more deplorable than the existing law it seeks to extend,” Casiño said. Contributed to Bulatlat

Cartel, GATT-WTO, Gov’t Polices to Blame for Rice Crisis

June 11, 2008

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines) said that the current rice crisis is a result of hoarding by the rice cartel, loopholes in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, and the government’s policy of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization, which is in line with its commitment to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade-World Trade Organization (GATT-WTO).

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines) said that the current rice crisis is a result of hoarding by the rice cartel, loopholes in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, and the government’s policy of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization, which is in line with its commitment to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade-World Trade Organization (GATT-WTO).

This crisis, KMP said, cannot be solved neither by the government’s aggressive importation of rice nor by the extension of the CARP.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, early last week, certified as urgent House Bill No. 4077, which provides for a five-year extension for CARP. HB 4077 provides for an allocation of P100 million ($2.27 million at the June 6 exchange rate of $1:P44.14).

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law was signed in 1988 and was intended to be in force until 1998. CARP expired in 1998 but was extended for another 10 years. It expires again on June 10 this year.

Based on DAR data, only 3.96 million hectares out of the target 5.16 million hectares, or 77 percent, under CARP have been redistributed.

Usec. Gerundio Madueño of the Department of Agrarian Reform supported the extension of CARP saying that extending CARP will help improve the country’s rice production.

“By completing CARP, it will help in the increase in the production of rice ‘cause the farmers will be given the basic rural infrastructure, technology, the training and support for their cooperatives and training for themselves,” Gerundio said.

But Madueño’s claim was belied by KMP secretary-general Danilo Ramos. He pointed out that the country had experienced rice crises under CARP. This, he said, does not give a promising picture of CARP’s supposed ability to solve the rice crisis.

“When did we first experience a rice crisis?” Ramos said. “That was during FVR’s (Fidel V. Ramos) time (as President). 1994-1995. CARP ended only in 1998, before it was extended for another 10 years. That means that experience shows that CARP is not a solution to rice crises.”

The rice cartel

“In fact, during FVR’s time, rice supply increased by 350 percent, but prices nevertheless soared,” he added. “Why? Because of the cartel.”

The rice crisis of 1994-1995 was largely a result of the partial privatization of the National Food Authority (NFA), which then procured only 0.5 percent of total palay (unhusked rice) production. Private traders took advantage of the situation, creating an artificial rice shortage by hoarding supplies. This caused rice prices to jump by 90-100 percent.

The present rice crisis is also largely traceable to the activities of a rice cartel, known as the Big Seven, whose members, aside from being able to channel production to itself through a network of traders, are also allowed to import heavily.

The members of the Big Seven have been identified in Senate investigations as Joaquin Go Soliman (JOMERCO Trading), Pio Sy Lato (PNS Grains Center), Ramon Ang Syson (Family Native Supply), Gil Go (Jocardo Merchandising), Leoncio Tan/Janet Tiu (Leoneco Merchandising), Santos See (Manila Goodyear), and Teofredo Co (Teofredo Trading).

CARP and GATT-WTO

The depredations wrought by the rice cartel are aggravated by CARP’s loopholes and the government’s implementation of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization policies in accordance with the GATT-WTO (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade-World Trade Organization) framework.

The Philippines is now the world’s top importer of rice, according to the socio-economic think tank IBON Foundation – a far cry from its status as a self-sufficient, rice-exporting country in the 1980s. IBON Foundation’s research also shows that the Philippines devotes only 4 million hectares to rice production – contrasting sharply with Vietnam, with more than 7 million hectares planted to rice, and Thailand which devotes more than 10 million hectares.

Lands planted to cash crops are exempted from CARP. The owners of lands planted to rice and corn, which are subject to CARP, have found a way out of the government’s agrarian reform program through crop conversion. This contributed to the decrease in rice production.

Under the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), which the Senate ratified in 1995, the Philippines has been forced to meet a minimum rice importation requirement, whether or not the country has sufficient rice yields. The Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA), which Ramos signed into law in 1997, aims for further privatization of the NFA and increased private-sector participation in rice importation.

The NFA is mandated by law to procure at least 12 percent of palay production. From an average of 7.95 percent of palay production in 1977-1983, the NFA’s procurement dropped to 3.63 percent in 1984-2000 and from 2001-2006 was only 0.05 percent of total production.

Rice imports have increased from 257,260 metric tons (MT) in 1995 to 1.7 million MT in 2006. This year, the government has secured the importation of some 2.2 million MT of rice from Vietnam, Thailand, and the U.S. – the country’s largest volume of rice importation since 1998.

“The government’s ratification to the GATT meant full liberalization of Philippine agriculture, particularly the emphasis on export crops and, on the other hand, rice importation,” Ramos said. “That is why in 1994, when the GATT was being deliberated upon in the Senate, we put forward a position urging them to reject it.”

The government’s Medium-Term Agriculture Development Plan (MTDAP) aims to reduce rice and corn production from 5 million MT to 3.1 million MT. Meanwhile, the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) for 2004-2010 aims for “the development of 2 million hectares of new agribusiness lands through multi-cropping, the cultivation of idle and marginal lands, the expansion of fishery production in unutilized offshore and inland waters, and expansion of the product mix through high value crops and value-adding through innovative packaging and agro-processing.”

The reduction of rice production and the country’s increased dependence on rice importation have placed the people more and more at the mercy of private traders, who control rice prices.

HB 3059

The KMP is calling for the passage of House Bill No. 3059, or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill. Principally authored by the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin Beltran, the bill provides for free distribution of land to farmers, the expansion of agrarian reform coverage to include all agricultural lands, and government support services for beneficiaries. Bulatlat

Editorial Cartoon: Reviving Devil

June 9, 2008

Pag mga mahihirap, pinapabayaang mamatay.  Pag pahirap, pinipilit na mabuhay.  Grrr…

‘Success’ in occupying 1,600 ha of Luisita–farm workers

June 9, 2008

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines–Farmers who lost their jobs following a joint labor and agrarian strike at the Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac in 2004 have been growing food and cash crops on a 1,600-hectare area there despite the non-implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program at the estate.

A “success story” is how Danilo Ramos, secretary-general of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Movement of Farmers in the Philippines), called this move by some 5,000 farmers.

They tilled portions of the Cojuangco family-owned sugar estate when the Supreme Court stopped the Department of Agrarian Reform in 2007 from implementing CARP there. The same farmers asked the Court in 1989 to void the stock distribution scheme through which they only got shares of stock, not actual land ownership.

“CARP’s bankruptcy and built-in institutional denial of land rights failed to stop Hacienda Luisita workers from struggling and asserting their rights to land. Now, despite all odds and political obstacles, the farm workers are reaping the fruits of their hard labor and collective resistance,” Ramos said in a statement.

In the same statement, Rene Galang, president of the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and chair of United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU), confirmed the occupation and cultivation of lands by displaced farm workers.

Galang said rice and vegetables were grown on the land owned by the family of former president Corazon Aquino.

“We are encouraging more farmers to join and form themselves into cooperation units to cover other hectares for their livelihood,” Galang said.

Sen. Benigno Aquino III, the son of the former president, on Sunday did not reply to a query if the family or the Hacienda Luisita Inc. allowed the farm workers to use the land.

There have been no known instances though when HLI tried to stop or evict tillers.

The Department of Agrarian Reform offices in Tarlac City, Concepcion and La Paz towns were known to have provided agricultural production support for farmers until the Supreme Court issued the temporary restraining order against the agency in 2007.

Luisita farmers also joined the march opposing the extension of the 20-year-old CARP, pushing instead for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 3059 authored by the late Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran.

“Proponents of the bogus CARP failed to explain the real score behind thousands of cases of land reform reversals compounded by confiscation of land titles, thousands of cases of land use conversions, land grabbing and the unexplained P143 billion spent for CARP, which all happened in the 20 years of [the program's implementation],” said Fernando Hicap, chair of the fisherfolk alliance Pamalakaya.

(pDI)

Groups set last-ditch effort for CARP extension

June 9, 2008

THE Reform CARP Movement promised to flood the tent city outside the Department of Agrarian Reform office in Quezon City with at least a thousand farmers and peasants pushing for the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program beginning today, and also tomorrow, the CARP law’s expiration date.

At the same time, other farmers calling the 20-year-old CARP a failure and said they would have nothing to do with its extension.

The Reform CARP Movement counts as members Task Force Mapalad, Pambansang Ugnayan ng mga Nagsasariling Lokal na Organisasyon sa Kanayunan, Task Force Baha-Talibayog and other farmers who have been picketing DAR since May to press for CARP extension.

The groups said the proposed five-year extension would give DAR the time to distribute its backlog of 1.1 million hectares consisting of private agricultural lands 60 hectares or more to about half a million farmers nationwide. “More than 3 million hectares were distributed during 20 years of CARP. Most of these lands are still in the hands of farmer-beneficiaries whose lives have certainly improved compared to those who remained mere tenants or farm workers,” the group said in a joint statement.

But Hacienda Luisita farm workers under the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, United Luisita Workers Union and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said CARP cannot take credit for the fact that thousands of farm workers and their families in Luisita now have more than 1,600 hectares for cultivation. They instead blamed government policies for encouraging land use conversion, land-grabbing, ejectment, crop conversion and other schemes that dispossess tillers, as well as high farm inputs and lack of agricultural support services that have led to the decreased rice production in the country.

“This is the reason why we are against any special session in Congress for CARP extension, they should let the anti-farmer program die a natural death,” the second groups said in a statement.

The Luisita farm workers accused government and the Aquino-Cojuangco clan of working together despite apparent political differences to reverse farm workers’ gains, adding that soldiers remain deployed for psy-war tactics in the 10 barrios straddled by the hacienda.

Last month, the Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas in a study of stakeholders composed of farmers, indigenous peoples, urban poor and fisherfolks nationwide, said the stakeholders gave government a 70 to 75 percent rating in its implementation of major asset reform laws such as CARP, the Indigenous People’s Rights, Fisheries Code and various socialized housing program. Governance weakness, red tape and weak inter-agency coordination were blamed for the poor performance. - Randy Nobleza(MALAYA)

KMP: Blame the cartels, not the farmers

June 8, 2008

DAVAO CITY (KMP-SMR/04 June) — “To blame the farmers over the soaring price of rice in Mindanao is an insult to injury for it is the farmer’s sector that suffers most from this worsening rice crisis. Instead of blaming the poor farmers, it should expose the rice cartels, the hoarders which are in government or protected by high-ranking government officials,” decried Pedro Arnado, vice-chairperson of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Southern Mindanao Region.
He added, “The DA should be ashamed for its obvious bias against the sector that it should serve, for passing on the blame to the people when it should in fact hang itself for its inutility to solve the rice crisis, just like its big boss in Malacanang.”

Arnado pointed out that farmers in Mindanao, as in the rest of the country are victims of the abusive buying prices set by big traders, stressing that most farmers do not own the land they till, are victims of usury and of wanton neglect due to the lack of government subsidy to farmers.

He also dismissed as “ludricrous” Paras’s justification that “tech-savvy” farmers who are able to access the internet can actually base their prices with imported rice.

“The DA is completely out of touch with the reality farmers live in. He must realize that majority of the Filipino farmers, if not all, are in far – flung areas with no access to even the most basic social services, much more to the internet. He is merely confusing us in order to cover-up the real issue that rice cartels are the powers-that- be in the agriculture business and they are well protected by this corrupt government,” Arnado said.

KMP said the DA and the Malacanang has played a deaf ear to the farmer’s calls to stop rice importation, to increase the National Food Authority’s procurement of locally produced rice, to stop the agri-business plantations such as banana and jathropa and other extractive industries that has encroached on agricultural lands.

The farmer’s group, which members around 200 local farmer-organizations in the region, said there was no genuine effort from the side of the government to solve the rice crisis.

Arnado said the poor’s limited access to NFA rice, the absence of a price ceiling and the aggravating food security of the people is proof that the government has done nothing but to save face and “deceive” the people through band-aid solutions.

Arnado challenged the DA saying that instead of blaming the poor, it should rally beside the Filipino people in calling for genuine and long term solutions to the rice crisis embodied in the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, or House Bill 3059 that is pushing for free land distribution to farmers.

June 4, 2008

Reference:
Pedro Arnado
Vice-Chairperson
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – SMR

Even Negros Occidental gov puzzled by fertilizer subsidy

June 7, 2008

THE SOUTHERN BEAT By Rolly Espina
Saturday, June 7, 2008

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Negros Occidental Gov. Isidro Zayco is himself at a loss on the guidelines of the fertilizer subsidies to farmers to help boost rice production and help push down the price of the staple in the province.

Local government units will reportedly identify the small farmers who can avail themselves of the rice subsidy.

The puzzle, according to Zayco, is that Negros Occidental is due to receive a total of P80 million in IRA differentials. But he does not know how the amount will be released.

“Earlier we were told that if we want to get the whole amount at once, it would be less 30 percent or only P56 million. But we would get the entire amount if we agree to avail ourselves of yearly releases over seven years,” Zayco explained.

In short, the Negros executive wants to clarify the source of funds for the LGUs for the rice subsidy program.

The question is, where will the 30 percent deduction of the lump sum go to?

That’s one thing which top government officials must answer. The Department of Agriculture, under the LGU fertilizer program, sets aside P500 from the DA and P1,000 from the LGU for the farmers.

These will be in terms of P250 coupons for each bag of fertilizer the farmers buy, he said.

Lucille Gaveolna said the LGUs will identify the prospective recipients. Some 11,500 small farmers in the province have availed themselves of subsidized fertilized seeds from the DA.

The fertilizer coupons will be released for the wet cropping season from May to October this year.

The LGU counterpart fund, according to Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya, is from the P12.5-billion IRA differentials from 2001 to 2004 which the President had ordered released.

Cops have their hands full

The police force of Negros Occidental has its hands full trying to unravel the torching of three delivery trucks of Tanduay Distillery Inc. at the Barcelona Port in Barangay Old Poblacion, Escalante City last Wednesday night.

Initial reports said 30 suspected New People’s Army rebels burned the delivery trucks because of the distillery’s failure to pay revolutionary taxes to the insurgents.

While the police seemed sure that the arsonists were NPA rebels, Col. Honorato de los Reyes, 303rd Infantry Brigade chief, wondered why some of the suspects wore bonnets. This is not the usual trademark of rebels, especially CPP-NPA members.

That threw a monkey’s wrench into the torching incident. If they were not NPA rebels, then the whole thing is a police matter.

Usually rebels do not wear bonnets when they are committing atrocities, Reyes pointed out.

The delivery trucks were reportedly en route to Cebu to transport Tanduay products when they were torched at the port owned by the Barcelona family. Among the owners of the small port is Escalante Vice Mayor May-May Barcelona, although it is managed by a brother.

The raiders, according to the police, mostly came on foot, while others were on board a pumpboat.

Escalante police chief Leonardo Angcon said some of the armed suspects withdrew from the scene on board a pumpboat.

Earlier, suspected rebels also torched two Tanduay delivery trucks in upland areas of Vallehermoso and Guihulngan in Negros Oriental. Two months ago, rebels also burned two transloading stations of the Victorias Milling Co. and Lopez Sugar Corp. in Toboso town, just adjacent to Escalante City.

Again the reason for that was the refusal of both firms to pay revolutionary taxes.

De los Reyes admitted the presence of legal fronts of the CPP-NPA in the coastal areas of Escalante.

The sequence of events tends to confirm suspicions that the group of 30 well-armed raiders must have been NPA members.

The question, however, is whether insurgents or not, the latest incident poses a challenge to both the police and the military to run the armed groups to the ground.

Escalante and its environs in northern Negros Occidental have been rocked by a series of violent incidents that seems to convince people in these areas that the NPA is still around and not yet contained by the military and the police. That presents a climate of uncertainty among the civilian population of the towns of Toboso and Calatrava and Escalante City as well as the upland areas of Sagay City.

But there is another side to the story. The Negros police has been tasked to be on the lookout for the two suspected killers of Ajuy, Iloilo Vice Mayor Ramon Rojas.

A P200,000 reward has been put up by the family and friends of Rojas for the arrest of the suspects who were last reported to have fled to northern Negros. The two guns-for-hire have been identified as Edgar Cordero and Dennis Cartagena.

Rojas was jogging with barangay chairman Ferdinand Nacional when he was gunned down. Nacional survived the ambush.

Iloilo police chief Ricardo de la Paz, who heads Task Force Rojas, was, prior to his new post, the police chief of San Carlos City.

Regional police chief Isagani Cuevas said police are still validating if the killing of Rojas was related to the intense political rivalry in Ajuy.

ADDENDUM: The provincial government, according to Gov. Zayco, is distributing rice to 57,513 day-care children throughout Negros Occidental under the food-for-school hunger mitigation program. Social welfare officer Liane Garcia said 402,591 kilograms of rice are to be given out to children in 25 towns and cities of the province. Kabankalan City tops the list with 51,051 kgs of rice for 7,293 children in day-care centers daily.

Programa sa lupa, nauwi sa wala

June 6, 2008

Soliman A. Santos

Protesta ng mga magsasaka noong 2007 laban sa Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

PANAKa-NAKA ang pag-ulan at pag-init, pero balewala ito sa kanila. Malayo ang nilakbay ng mga magsasakang ito – marami ang mula sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng Timog Katagalugan – kung kaya di sila pahahadlang sa pagdadalawang-isip ng panahon. Nagluluto, kumakain at nagpoprotesta sila sa bungad ng DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform).

Balewala sa mga magsasaka ang sakripisyong sandaling mawala sa kanilang pagsasaka. Ano ba naman ito kumpara sa 20 taon ng paghihintay?

“Hinahamon namin si Ginang Arroyo at ang DAR na itigil ang pagapapalit-gamit sa lupa,” bungad ni Orly Marcellana, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Kasama-TK (Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan).

Kasama ni Marcellana ang mga magsasaka mula sa Hacienda de Calatagan, Batangas. Tulad ng 80 porsiyento ng mga magsasaka sa Pilipinas, di nila pag-aari ang lupang pinagtatamnan. Pag-aari ito ng Ayala Land Corporation, korporasyong pag-aari ng isa sa pinakamayamang pamilya sa buong bansa, ang mga Zobel de Ayala.

“Hinahamon naming ibalik ang 97 ektaryang lupain ng Hacienda Fule sa mga magsasaka na napalayas dahil sa pagpapalit-gamit ng lupa mula sa pagiging agrikultural tungong komersiyal na lupain ng Ayala Land Corp,” ani Marcellana.

Sa simula ng kanilang pagkakampo sa DAR noong nakaraang linggo, nagpupuyos ang damdamin ng mga magsasaka ng nasabing asyenda. Paano ba naman, pinalayas ng mga Ayala ang mga magsasaka mula sa 19 na barangay ng Calatagan. Matagal na nilang hiling na mapasakanila ang mahigit 10,000 ektaryang lupang sinasaka sa ilalim ng Carp (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program). Pero sa halip na ipamahagi ng gobyerno ang lupa, kinatigan pa ang pagpapalusot ng mga Ayala na “pastulan” daw ang lupa at hindi sakahan.

Halimbawa lamang daw ito ng kapalpakan ng gobyerno sa pagpapatupad ng repormang agraryo sa bansa.

Bigong reporma
Ayon sa KMP (Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas), pito hanggang walo sa 10 magsasaka ang wala pa ring sariling lupa. Hindi umano winasak at winakasan ng Carp ang monopolyo sa lupa sa loob ng 20 taon.

Mahigit sampung milyong ektaryang lupain ang target ng DAR, ahensiyang pangunahing nagpapatupad ng Carp, noong maitatag ito. Ayon sa DAR, nakapamahagi na ito ng mahigit anim na milyong ektarya sa tulong ng Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Pero mahihinuha sa mismong datos ng gobyerno ang napakalaking limitasyon ng naging saklaw ng Carp. Umabot sa 1.9 milyong ektarya lamang ng pribadong lupaing agrikultural ang naipamahagi sa mga magsasaka simula noong 1988. Kasama pa rito ang kalat-kalat na mga lupang ipinamahagi sa panahon ng diktadurang Marcos sa ilalim ng na Presidential Decree 27. Sa 1.9 milyong ektaryang ito, 82% ang may mga kaso pa, at wala pang aktuwal o pisikal na pamamahagi ng lupa sa magsasaka.

“Marami kasing butas ang Carp na kumbinyenteng ginamit at ginagamit ng mga panginoong maylupa para makaiwas sa makitid na saklaw nito,” paliwanag ni Rafael Mariano, tagapangulo ng KMP at hahalili sa yumaong Crispin Beltran bilang kinakatawan sa Kamara ng Anakpawis Party-list.

Kabilang sa mga butas: “Mga lupaing na-exempt dahil sa mga order at exemptions na inilabas ng DAR, Darab (DAR Adjudication Board), at ng korte; mga lupaing nanatili sa kamay ng mga panginoong maylupa dahil sa paggamit ng kanilang karapatang mapanatili sa kanila ang holdings; mga lupa at magsasakang saklaw ng inisyung order for land conversion; mga lupain at magsasakang sinaklaw ng mga order ng ejectment; mga lupa at magsasakang saklaw ng kinanselang certificate of land ownership at emancipation patents,” sabi pa ni Mariano.

Nandiyan din ang mga lupang nababawi sa magsasaka dahil sa iba’t ibang kaparaanan o kaya hindi lang makabayad ng amortisisasyon. Gayundin ang mga lupaing talagang hindi nakasama, na hindi inirehstro ng mga nag-mamay-ari nito doon sa ginanap na land registration noong 1988.
Noong 1995, ang mahigit 10 milyong ekraryang dapat ipmahagi ng DAR ay nabawasan pa ng mahigit dalawang milyong ektarya dahil sa mga executive issuances, administrative orders, Supreme Court rulings, at mga susog sa Carl (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law). Sa esensiya, malakihang binawasan ang ipapamahaging lupaing agrikultural.

Ang kabuuang lawak ng mga sakahan sa bansa, ayon sa 1991 Census of Agriculture, ay 9,974,871 ektarya, ang ibig sabihin nito ay saklaw lamang ng Carp ay 43% ng lahat ng sakahan sa bansa. May kabuuang 5.7 milyong ektarya ng sakahan ang hindi nakapaloob sa reporma sa lupa.

Hindi pa umano ibinawas ng DAR sa ”total accomplishment report” nito ang mga lupain na kinansela ang mga Certificate of Land Transfer, Emancipation Patent at Certificate of Land Ownership Award, gayundin ang inaprubahang mga pagpapalit-gamit ng lupa, mga ineksempt sa Carp gamit ang DOJ Opinion No. 44 at Seksyon 20 ng Local Government Code ng 1991), at mga proklamasyon na nagdedeklara sa ilang erya bilang mga “tourism zones”.

Sinagkaan din ng Carp ang karapatan ng mga mangingisdang Pilipino na pakinabangan ang mahigit 800,000 ektarya ng palaisdaan sa buong bansa. Sa ilalim ng huwad na reporma sa lupa, tiniyak ng gobyerno na hindi maisasama sa Carp ang pamamahagi ng fishponds at prawn farms at iba pang katulad nito sa mga kooperatiba, asosasyon at organisasyon ng mga mangingisda, ayon pa sa KMP.

Gatasan
Ang masaklap pa, ginagamit ng gobyerno ang mga magsasaka para mangalap ng bilyong pondo sa labas ng bansa at mga institusyong pampinansiya.

Iniulat mismo ng DAR noong Hunyo 17,2007 na “may kabuuang P62.31-B ang ginastos na mula sa internasyunal na mga institusyong nagpopondo para gumawa ng mga daan, tulay, irigasyon, mga dryer at para sa maiinom na tubig, kuryente, pautang at maging mga pagsasanay at mga programang pangkabuhayan sa mga agrarian reform communities.”

Ayon sa KMP, ginagawa itong ”gatasan” dahil ang nakikinabang sa pondo ay ang administrasyong rehimeng Arroyo at mga tiwaling opisyal ng DAR sa pakikipagsabuwatan ng kolaborisyunista at repormistang mga grupo ng mga magsasaka at institusyon.

Sa nakalipas na 10 taon (1998-2007), umabot sa P 119-B ang ginastos para sa implementasyon ng Carp na nanggaling sa pagbebenta ng non-performing assets ng gobyerno at nabawing nakaw na yaman ng pamilyang Marcos. Labas pa dito ang mga pondo na nakalap mula sa European Union at World Bank at iba pang dayuhang pondo.

Hindi lamang ang KMP ang nakapansin nito. Kahit si Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., pinasisiyasat kung ano ang nangyari sa napakalaking pondo ng gobyerno sa Carp.

Nadismaya diumano si Pimentel nang hindi maayos na naipaliwanag ng DAR sa Senado kung ano ang eksaktong mga pinagkagastahan ito sa milyun-milyong pondo sa loob ng 20 taong implementasyon ng Carp.

Kaya hindi nagtataka ang KMP kung bakit ginawang sertipikadong urgent sa Kongreso ang panukalang palawigin pa ng limang taon ang Carp. “Ibig sabihin, napakabulagsak na paraan ng paggamit ng pondo ng publiko. Kailangang mai-account nang maayos ang pondong ito,” sabi ni Pimentel.

Partikular na ipinagpapaliwanag ni Pimentel sa DAR kung paano nito ginastos ang P30 Bilyong mula sa nasamsam na yaman ng mga Marcos na inilaan sa repormang agraryo noong 2003. Hanggang sa kasalukuyan diumano, hindi pa rin ito sapat na nasasagot ng DAR at gobyernong Arroyo.

Tunay na repormang agraryo
Sa kabilang banda, ayaw na ng mga magsasaka na palawigin pa ang Carp. “Isang malagim na halimbawa ang karanasan namin ng kawalang- katarungan at kainutilan ng Carp,” sabi ni Romy Cayao, tagangulo ng Kasama-TK.

Sa halip, isinusulong nila ang “tunay na repormang agraryo.” Sinusuportahan ng KMP at mga alyadong grupo nito sa buong bansa ang Garb (Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill) o House Bill 3059, na isinampa ng progresibong mga party-list na Anakpawis, Bayan Muna at Gabriela sa Kongreso. (Basahin ang kaugnay na artikulo)

Sa kanyang pag-upo sa Kamara, inaasahang lalabanan ni Mariano ang panukalang pagpapalawig pa sa implementasyon ng Carp. Ikakampanya niya ang isang tunay na repormang agraryo sa kalidad ng Garb.

Kuha na niya ang suporta ng mga magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan. Kuha niya ang suporta ng mga magsasaka sa buong bayan.

Ano ang CARP?

Magtatapos na sa Hunyo 10, 2008 ang Carp o Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, ang batas sa repormang agraryo na mandato ng Republic Act No. 6657, na pinirmahan ni dating Pangulong Corazon Aquino noong Hunyo 10, 1988. Ito ang ika-11 batas sa repormang agraryo sa bansa sa loob ng 50 taon, sumunod sa mga batas sa repormang agraryo ng mga presidenteng sina Manuel Quezon, Ramon Magsaysay, Diosdado Macapagal at Ferdinand Marcos.

Ayon sa RA 6657, layon ng Carp na magkaroon ng pantay na distribusyon at pag-aari ng lupa. Sampung taon ang lawig nito para maipamahagi ang lupa sa mga magsasaka. Subalit hindi ito nangyari kaya noong Hunyo 1998, pinalawig pa ang termino nito ng karagdagan pang 10 taon at binigyan ng P50 Bilyong pondo para sa implementasyon nito.

Ipinaliwanag ng RA 6657 ang repormang agraryo bilang “pamamahagi ng lupa, anumang pananim o prutas na produkto nito, sa mga magsasaka at regular na manggagawang-bukid na walang lupa” at “lahat ng kasunduang alternatibo sa pamamahagi ng lupa, tulad ng profit-sharing, labor administration at pamamahagi ng shares of stock na magbibigay-daan sa pagtanggap ng mga benepisyaryo ng makatuwirang hatian sa bunga ng lupang kanilang binungkal.”

Nakasaad rin sa naturang batas na dapat ipamahagi ang malalawak na lupaing agrikultural sa mga magsasakang nagbubungkal, habang hanggang limang ektarya lamang ang matitira sa mga panginoong maylupa at tatlong ektarya sa kanyang bawat anak.
Gayunman dahil sa mga butas ng Carp, natatakasan ng mga panginoong maylupa ang pamamahagi ng lupa sa pamamagitan ng reklasipikasyon ng kanilang lupain. Hindi kasi kasama sa saklaw ng Carp ang mga lupaing residensiyal, komersiyal at industriyal.
Para sa mga magsakaka, nagsilbi at nanatiling instrumento ang Carp upang patuloy na ipagkait ang saligang karapatan ng mga magsasaka na ariin ang lupang sinasaka. Taliwas sa ipinangako nitong pamamahagi ng lupa, pinanatili nito ang monopolyo at konsentrasyon ng malalawak na lupain sa kamay ng iilan.

Soliman Santos

Panukalang ‘totoong reporma sa lupa’

Hindi pa man pormal na nanunumpa bilang kinatawan ng Anakpawis na hahalili kay Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran sa Kamara, abala na si Rafael Mariano sa pagtutulak sa panukalang batas na Garb, o Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill. Para sa kanya at sa organisadong mga magsasakang kinabibilangan niya, isang hakbang ang Garb para s tunay na reporma sa lupa na di nakamit sa Carp.

Pero batid niya ang limitasyon pakikipaglaban sa Kamara na pinamumugaran ng mga pulitikong panginoong maylupa.

Ito ang ilan sa mga sagot niya nang tanungin ng Pinoy Weekly hinggil sa Garb noong nakaraang taon:

Anong kaibahan ng Garb sa Carp?
Ito ay pusupusan at tunay na reporma sa lupa. Bunga ito ng naging matagumpay na konsultasyon sa hanay ng organisadong mga magsasaka.

Malaki ang kaibahan nito pangunahin sa sasaklawin ng programa. Kasama na rito ang mga lupaing nasa kontrol pa rin ng malalaking agrocorporation lalo na ng mga dayuhan na kalakhang matatagpuan sa Mindanaw. Kasama sa coverage ng bill na ito kahit yung mga lupaing naitakas sa saklaw ng huwad na Carp.

Doon sa mga may-ari ng lupa na nagpapabuwis, na target saklawin ng programang ito, kung mayroon silang ipinuhunan, dahil sa ilang beses nilang piyudal na pagpiga ng land rent, ilang beses na rin namang naibalik sa kanila. Kaya hindi na dapat pagbayarin o singilin pa ng amortisasyon ang mga magsasaka. Kaya nga prinsipyo ito ng libreng pamamahagi ng lupa bilang sentral na nilalalaman ng isang batas sa tunay na reporma sa lupa. Gayundin ang laman diyan, no retention. Walang ititira, lalo na yung lupain ng malalaking despotikong maylupa na mayroong magsasaka. Dapat wala ’yang retention holdings na ’yan.

Ang primary beneficiaries ay mga magsasaka at farmworkers na walang lupa. Naglalayon talaga itong batas na ito na basagin ang monopolyong kontrol sa lupa ng iilan at maipamahagi ito ng libre sa mga magsasaka.

Hindi natin papayagan ang non-land transfer schemes na kung tutuusin corporate landgrabbing tulad ng leaseback agreement, SDO (stock distribution option), profit and production sharing scheme.

Sa mga lugar na hindi pa masasaklaw ng programa, dapat ’yung signipikanteng pagpapababa ng upa sa lupa, pero malaunan dapat saklawin din.

Ang isa pang kaibahan nito, maikli lang ang period ng iplementasyon. Kung limang taon, limang taon lang. Hindi extendable. Nagbubunyi kasi ang mga panginoong maylupa sa ekstensiyon.

Kung may uunahin ’yan ng malalakihan tulad ng lupain ni Danding (Cojuangco), Hacienda Luisita. Isasama natin pati yung mga lupain ng mga military reservation kuno pero may mga magsasaka at produktibo.

Kitang-kita ang malaking kaibahan nito sa huwad na reporma sa lupa na Carp. Magmula sa period of implementation, na maikli lang, hanggang sa moda ng pag-a-acquire, kailangan compulsory acquisition at distribution.

Ang tanong, lulusot ba ito? Maipapatupad ba ito sa isang Kongreso lalo na ang mga kongresista kung hindi man tuwirang panginoong maylupa ay nagtataguyod ng makauring interes ng panginoong maylupa, komprador, at dayuhan?

Bakit gusto ng gobyerno ng ekstensiyon ng Carp?
Magtatagumpay sila sa panloloko at panlilinlang sa Carp. Sasabihin nila naipamahagi na lahat. Sasabihin nilang nagtagumpay na tayo ang kailangan lang tapusin. Hindi lang kailangan tapusin ito ngayon, kailangan iekstend. Pagdating ng panahon na ’yon, inaasahan marahil nila kaya na nilang mapatanggap sa nililinlang nilang mga magsasaka na tapos na ang reporma sa lupa.

Gusto rin ito ng US dahil ang mga lupain ngayon na nakatakas sa tunay na reporma sa lupa. Ang gobyernong papet, inilalako ang mga lupang ito para gamitin sa agribusiness na magsusuplay sa pagangailangan ng merkado ng US.

Ilang-Ilang Quijano

(PinoyWeekly)

Bishops seek special session for passage of Carp extension bill

June 6, 2008

THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Thursday appealed to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to call for a special session in Congress for lawmakers to pass the bill seeking to extend the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp).

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa), said ordering the majority bloc in the House of Representatives to hold a special session will prove that Arroyo is sincere in her efforts to extend the law.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

“We are appealing to the President to call for a special session in Congress for the passage of the Carp extension bill,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Chief Executive certified as urgent the bill seeking to extend Carp.

For her part, Akbayan party-list Representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel said it will be easy for the President to call for a special session as she already did the same in the passage of the national budget.

Pabillo is saddened by the delays in deliberating the bill as Congress has yet to reach the discussions on the merits of the proposed law.

“We think it is both delaying tactic and lack of interest of lawmakers,” he lamented.

He said the non-passage of the law could lead to the stalling of contested land disputes being tackled by civilian courts.

There are almost 1.8 million hectares out of the nine million hectares of Carp-able land that remains undistributed.

The Carp is set to expire on June 10 while Congress will go on recess on June 13. (FP/Sunnex)


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