Archive for the ‘peasant’ Category

Peasant Leader Killed Inside Nueva Ecija Army Camp

July 12, 2010


MANILA — A 78-year-old peasant leader was shot dead by two motorcycle-riding men inside his house in San Isidro, Laur town, Nueva Ecija, at around 4:45 p.m. Friday, July 9.

Pascual Guevarra is a senior leader of the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid na Nagkakaisa 3100 (Almana), which has been struggling for land ownership inside the 3,100 hectare Fort Magsaysay. The group is affiliated with Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). The victim’s grandson, Ronnel Villoria, was also wounded when he tried to help his grandfather, the KMP said in a statement.

Guevarra is the second victim of extrajudicial killing under the new administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III. On July 5, Fernando Baldomero, a Bayan Muna coordinator in Aklan, was shot dead in front of his house in Lezo town.

Danilo Ramos, KMP secretary general, said he holds accountable the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army assigned at the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation, for Guevarra’s death.

According to KMP, Guevarra led numerous dialogues with the 7th IDPA, particularly with Col. Hermino Barrios of the Judge Advocate Group’s Office (Jago) representing former AFP Chief Maj. Gen. Ralph Bangit, about the military’s alleged harassment of farmers. “The military could never deny that they had a hand in these as they totally control Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation,” Ramos said.

Guevarra also attended the dialogue at Camp Aguinaldo, with the representatives of the then secretary of Department of National Defense (DND) Gilbert Teodoro on Nov. 17, 2008, and countless dialogues with the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO), the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Region III office and its central office regarding their struggle for land.

Struggle for Land

Pascual is one of some 6,000 peasants and other residents inside the Fort Magsaysay who should have acquired ownership of the land by virtue of a 1991 Deed of Transfer between the DND and the DAR.

They were awarded Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“He was already old but still fighting for his right to land. He walked around with loads of documents from DAR proving their claim. He was harmless and all he wanted was to keep their farm so that his grandchildren would have something,” Ramos said.

In a separate statement, Anakpawis Rep. and KMP chairman Rafael Mariano said that since 2008, the military has been instrumental in denying farmers in Fort Magsaysay their rights to own land. “It was the 7th ID itself who has requested the DAR to cancel the CLOAs given to peasants within the 3,100-hectare contested area,” Mariano said.

“This is very clear that Tatay Pascual’s struggle to land had made him a target of the state fascist forces. The military is obviously accountable as it happened inside their area of responsibility. They are in control of the area, they control whoever gets in or out, thus, it is impossible for the perpetrators to carry on their mission without the military’s knowledge,” Ramos said.

AMGL will lead a the fact-finding mission on Monday.

Concrete Action Urged

The KMP said it will hold a condemnation protest at Mendiola this Monday to push Aquino to immediately act and stop the killings. “He could not afford to be late and slow on the issue of extrajudicial killings in the country,” Ramos added.

“Mr. Aquino should immediately act on Ka Pascual’s killing and stop the military from evicting farmers inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation. It was during his mother’s term when the so-called transfer of the lands to farmers was initiated,” Mariano said.

Mariano is set to file a resolution calling for the immediate investigation on the killing of Guevarra and the Fort Magsaysay agrarian dispute. (

Substandard Hybrid Seeds Distributed Under GMA Rice Program

April 21, 2009

A fact-finding mission led by various peasant groups and non-government organizations revealed that farmers in Nueva Ecija towns received substandard hybrid rice seeds under the government’s GMA Rice Program. Worse, the Department of Agriculture’s response to the problem was far from being satisfactory.


Unlike the traditional rice seeds, the SL-8H rice variety distributed to farmers in Nueva Ecija towns is red in color.

The SL-8H rice variety is the latest hybrid line introduced by Chinese company SL Agritech Corporation (SLAC) and promoted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) under its Hybrid Commercialization Rice Program.

As rice granary of the country, Nueva Ecija is included in the target areas for hybrid rice cultivation along with other provinces such as Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Camarines Sur, Leyte, Maguindanao, South Cotabato, Lanao del Norte and Bukidnon.

Finesa Cosico, an agriculturist and member of the scientist group Agham (Advocates of Science and Technology for the People), said that the red color of the SL-8H seeds may be attributed to a grain protectant, indicating that they were stored in warehouses for a long time.

Cosico is a member of the fact-finding mission led by Resistance and Solidarity Against Agrochemical Transnational Corporations (RESIST) on March 19. The team went to Barangay (village) Tondod in San Jose City and Brgy. Santo Rosario of Santo Domingo town.

Other participating organizations include the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP-Peasant Movement of the Philippines), Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL-Alliance of Farmers in Central Luzon), Farmers and Scientists for Development of Agriculture (MASIPAG), EED Task Force Indigenous Peoples (TFIP) and Genetic Resource Action International (GRAIN).

Willy Marbella, national officer of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, compares the red hybrid seeds distributed to farmers in Nueva Ecija to the traditional rice varieties in a press conference in Quezon City, April 4. (Photo by R. Olea)

Closer examination shows that the seeds were not uniformly red and appeared to have been mixed with another hybrid variety, the mission report stated.

Cosico noted that the bags containing the seeds have no tags to indicate their origin and other important information. She said that traceability, an important factor in quality control, is a problem.

Without this information, the team said, the bags could have been tampered before delivery to the market.


The report of the fact-finding team states that the SL-8H variety showed early signs of flowering immediately after transplanting. Cosico said flowering normally takes a month. The hybrid rice seeds also produced panicles empty of rice grains.

“This caused massive panic to the farmer communities,” the report said. Cosico said the farmers increased the application of fertilizer, on a weekly basis, to catch up with the early flowering of the rice crops.

“Such abnormalities from the regular practice of fertilization of hybrids caused farmers additional expenditures in buying fertilizers,” the report said.

Cosico said that planting of hybrid rice seeds is usually input-intensive. But she said that in the case of SL-8H, the application of additional fertilizers is extraordinary.

Unsatisfactory response

The groups criticized the DA’s response to the problem.

“The Department of Agriculture and the Philippine Rice Research Institute failed to explain the failure of the SL-8H hybrid seeds,” Cosico said.

Philrice said that the abnormalities in the growth of hybrid rice were due to “cold stress”, “strong wind” and other “stresses”. The farmers interviewed by the fact-finding team, however, did not notice anything unusual that could trigger the unusual development of hybrid seeds.

A one-page advisory from the DA instructs farmers to apply additional fertilizer to the seeds.

Enough of IRRI

The groups blamed the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for the proliferation of hybrid variety of rice seeds.

Willy Marbella, KMP deputy secretary-general for internal affairs, said that hybrid rice seeds introduced by IRRI have exacerbated rural poverty.

In connivance with agrochemical transnational corporations (TNCs), Marbella said, the IRRI confiscates all traditional rice seeds and introduce hybrid rice seeds. Marbella said TNCs gain enormous profit from the sale of the seeds and chemical-based fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.

In a statement, Dr. Chito Medina, MASIPAG national coordinator, said, “The use of high yielding varieties (HYV) has put farmers in continuous contact with pesticides thereby increasing serious health hazards and environmental contamination.”

The MASIPAG said the IRRI receives grants from agrochemical TNCs.

Marbella called for the abolition of IRRI. “IRRI’s programs and policies have always been anti-farmer and pro-agrochemical TNCs.”

The groups asserted that in IRRI’s 49 years of existence, it has failed to achieve its promises to reduce poverty and hunger, improve the health of rice farmers and consumers and ensure that rice production is environmentally sustainable. (

Tunay na reporma sa lupa: hindi suntok sa buwan

February 6, 2009

Ilang-Ilang D. Quijano

Desididong ipagtagumpay ang laban para sa tunay na repormang agraryo. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

Rali ng mga magsasaka noong Enero 20: Desididong ipagtagumpay ang laban para sa tunay na repormang agraryo. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

HINDI miminsang tinanong si Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano kung seryoso sila sa pagtutulak na isabatas ang House Bill 3059 o Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB).

Dahil sa umano’y kabiguan ng Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) na ipamahagi ang mga lupain ng bansa sa mga magsasaka, idinisenyo ang GARB ng progresibong mga party-list kasama ng militanteng mga samahang magsasaka. Inihain nila sa Kongreso, noong 2007, ang panukalang batas na umano’y “kumakatawan sa di-kumukupas na adhikain para sa tunay na reporma sa lupa.”

Noong Hunyo 2008, nagtapos ang CARP. Sinimulan ng gobyernong Aquino 20 taon na ang nakakaraan para tugunan ang demokratikong panawagan ng kilusang masang nagpatalsik sa diktadura, nagtapos ito nang nananatiling konsentrado pa rin ang mga lupain ng bansa sa kamay ng iilang panginoong-maylupa.

Marami sa mga panginoong maylupang ito, matatagpuan mismo sa loob ng Kongreso, gaya ng mga Arroyo na malalawak ang lupain sa Negros Occidental. Kaya naman nang mapresyur ang mga kongresista na palawigin ang CARP na kapos pa sa target nitong mga lupaing dapat ipamahagi, ipinasa nila ang Joint Resolution 19 o anim na buwang ekstensiyon ng programa.(Basahin ang kaugnay na artikulo)

Inulan ng batikos ang Joint Resolution 19 dahil tinanggal sa CARP ang complusory land acquisition o sapilitang pagbawi ng lupa, at ginawa na lamang itong boluntaryo. Hindi rin maaaring amyendahan ang batas ng isang resolusyon lamang. Kalaunan, ibinasura na rin ng Kongreso ang House Bill 4077 o CARP Extension With Reforms na itinutulak naman ng ilan.

Pero hindi na lamang hahayaan ng mga magsasaka na tuluyang makalimutan ang kanilang problema sa kawalan ng lupa. Ngayong “patay na” ang huwad na CARP, ayon kay Rep. Mariano, panahon nang maipakilala ang GARB na isang radikal na programa para sa tunay na reporma sa lupa.

“Seryoso, pursigido, at ubos-kaya” nila itong itutulak na maisabatas, tawagin mang suntok sa buwan ng karamihan.

Layunin ng GARB

Matayog ang mga layunin ng GARB. Kabilang rito ang pagbasag sa monopolyo sa lupa ng iilang panginoong maylupa at dayuhang kompanya; pagwasak ng piyudal at mala-piyudal na pagsasamantala sa kanayunan; pairalin ang mga kooperatiba para sa pagpapataas ng produktibidad ng benepisyaryong magsasaka; at paunlarin ang agrikultura ng bansa bilang salalayan ng pambansang industriyalisasyon.

Sa GARB, ipapamahagi nang libre ang lahat ng mga lupaing agrikultural ng bansa sa mga magsasaka. Ito umano ang pinakamalaking pagkakaiba nito sa CARP, na maraming mga eksempsiyon na nagagamit ng mga panginoong maylupa at negosyante para patuloy na kontrolin ang mga lupain at agawin ang mga ito sa mga magsasaka.

Saklaw ng GARB ang mga pribadong lupain gaya ng malalaking asyenda, plantasyon ng mga korporasyong transnasyunal, lupaing pang-aquaculture, at mga lupaing nakatiwangwang. Saklaw din nito ang mga pampublikong lupain gaya ng mga lupaing idineklara ng gobyerno para sa gamit komersiyal, residensyal, at industriyal, reserbasyong militar, eryang panturismo, lupaing mineral, at special economic zones.

Wala rin sa GARB ang mga iskemang alternatibo gaya ng stock distribution option, leaseback, joint venture, corporative scheme, at farm management contract na mayroon ang CARP at ginamit para hadlangan ang aktuwal na pamamahagi ng lupa sa mga magsasaka. Sa ilalim ng GARB, hindi rin pagbabayarin ang mga magsasaka ng amortisasyon sa lupa, na sa ilalim ng CARP ay naging dahilan para mabawi ito sa kanila.

GARB, inaasam-asam

Inaasam-asam ng 72-anyos na si Rufina Nolasco ng Brgy. Balibag, Calatagan, Batangas, ang araw na mapapasakanilang muli ang lupain na sinaka ng kanila pang mga ninuno. Kasama si Nanay Rufina, tagapangulo ng Samahan ng Ugnayan ng Mangingisda at Magsasaka sa Calatagan, sa mga magsasakang bumiyahe sa Maynila para sa kilos-protesta noong Enero 22.

Ginunita ng mga magsasaka, sa pangunguna ng Kilusang Magubukid ng Pilipinas, ang ika-22 anibersaryo ng Mendiola Massacre kung saan 13 magsasaka ang namatay sa isang marahas na dispersal sa kilos-protestang nananawagan ng tunay na reporma sa lupa. Kasabay nito, iginiit ng grupo ang pagsasabatas ng GARB.

“Walang kagutuman noong nasa mga tao pa ang lupa,” wika ni Nanay Rufina, na kagaya ng libu-libo pa sa 16 barangay sa Calatagan ay itinaboy sa lupaing binakuran at patuloy na inaangkin ng pamilyang Zobel de Ayala, sa kabila ng dalawang desisyon ng Korte Suprema na pabor sa mga magsasaka. Maya’t maya ang banta ng demolisyon sa kanilang mga tahanan. Iginigiit pa nila maging ang pananatili sa laylayan ng kanilang dating mga sakahan.

Walang naramdamang tunay na reporma sa lupa sa nakaraang 20 taon, aniya. “Ito (GARB) ang tunay na maglilingkod sa mga magsasaka, dahil ipapamahagi nang libre ang lupa. Kaiba sa CARP, na ginagamit lamang para bawiin ang lupa mula sa mga magsasaka,” aniya.

Bunuan sa Kongreso

Noong Enero 21, inikot ng mga lider ng Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) ang mga opisina ng mga kongresista para ikampanya ang GARB. Hindi sila pinansin at tinarayan pa sila ng iba. “Busy ako,” sabi umano sa kanila ni Rep. Elpidio Barzaga ng pangalawang distrito ng Cavite. Ang iba naman, gaya ni Rep. Justin Chipeco ng pangalawang distrito ng Laguna, nagsabing mas pabor siya sa ekstensiyon ng CARP kung ipananatili rito ang compulsory land acquisition.

Pinaunlakan naman sila ni House Speaker Prospero Nograles. Pero hindi siya nangakong susuportahan ang GARB at nagpahayag ng pagkiling sa pagreporma na lamang sa CARP. Sinabihan niya ang mga magsasaka na mag-lobby sa mga miyembro ng House Committee on Agrarian Reform. Pinangungunahan ang komite ni Akbayan Rep. Risa Baraquel Hontiveros, na may-akda namang ng HB 4077. “Kung ano ang committee report, ‘yun ang susuportahan ko,” aniya.

Gayunpaman, bukas umano siya sa debate hinggil sa GARB.

Para kay Rep. Mariano, makarating lamang sa plenaryo ang GARB, malaking tagumpay na para sa mga magsasakang nais ibalik sa pambansang usapin ang pangangailangan para sa tunay na reporma sa lupa, lalo sa gitna ng pandaigdigang krisis pampinansiya.

“Ang pagpapatupad ng tunay na reporma sa lupa ang magiging dahilan at daan sa pagkakaroon ng mas maunlad na agrikultura at mas matatag na pambansang ekonomiya na magiging pansalag sa mga bayo ng pandaigdigang krisis pampinansiya,” ayon sa mambabatas.

Sama-samang pagkilos

Sa pakikipagdiyalogo pa lamang sa mga kongresista at kay Nograles, ramdam na ni Imelda Lacandazo, tagapangulo ng Kasama-TK, na hindi magiging madali ang pakikipagbunuan para maipasa ng Kongreso ang GARB. Pero isa lamang umano ang pagsusulong ng GARB sa mga porma ng malaon nang pakikipaglaban ng mga magsasaka para sa tunay na reporma sa lupa.

“Tuluy-tuloy ang sama-samang pagkilos ng mga magsasaka. Natuto na ang mga magsasaka sa hakbang-hakbang na tunay na reporma sa lupa na sila mismo ang nagpapatupad,” aniya.

Inihalimbawa niya ang 2,800 ektarya sa Brgy. Macabud, Montalban, Rizal na ngayo’y kolektibong sinasaka ng mga magsasaka sa kabila ng tangkang land use conversion o pagpapalit-gamit ng lupa tungo sa golf courses at pabahay na pagmamay-ari ng pamilyang Ayala at Lopez.

Daan-daang magsasaka sa 1,700 ektaryang Hacienda Looc sa Nasugbu, Batangas, ang nakapanatili sa kanilang mga lupain sa kabila ng pagkansela ng kanilang mga Certificate of Land Ownership Award sa ilalim ng CARP at paninibasib ng mga kompanyang nais gamitin ang lupa para sa turismo.

Gayundin, sa Mamburao, Mindoro Occidental, hindi na nagbubuwis ang mga magsasaka sa may-ari ng isang 600-ektaryang lupain. Dati-rati, aabot sa 12 kaban ng palay kada ektarya at 60 porsiyento ng ani sa mangga ang kanilang ibinabayad sa panginoong maylupa na si Rodrigo Quintos.

Samantala, sa Hacienda Luisita ng pamilyang Cojuangco sa Tarlac, isa sa pinakamatingkad na halimbawa ng kabiguan ng CARP at lunsaran ng pakikibakang magsasaka na lumundo sa isang masaker noong 2004, may 1,800 ektarya na ang kolektibong tinatamnan ng mga magsasaka.

“Sa pamamagitan ng pag-oorganisa at sama-samang pagkilos, ‘yung hindi kayang ibigay na lupa ng gobyerno at mga kapitalista, kayang bawiin ng mga magsasaka. Ito ang tunay na diwa ng tunay na reporma sa lupa,” sabi naman ni Lita Mariano, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon, grupong kabilang din sa mga nagsusulong ng GARB.

Kaya’t maaaring suntok sa buwan ang pagsasabatas ng GARB – pero hindi ang pagkamit ng mga magsasaka sa tunay na reporma sa lupa.(PinoyWeekly)

Photos: BAYAN – Panay leads various groups in marking the Mendiola Massacre of 1987

January 28, 2009

BAYAN – Panay leads various groups

in marking the Mendiola Massacre of 1987

Plazoleta Gay, Iloilo City .

January 22, 2009

The multi-sectoral protest commemorated the 22nd anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre. Members of Paghugpong sang Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras (PAMANGGAS) recalled the historic event which happened in 1987, vobisng to continue the struggle of the farmers for land.

The picket also strongly condemned the US-backed Israeli invasion of Gaza which has resulted in the loss of lives of hundreds of civilians. Despite the recently declared temporary ceasefire by the Israeli government, war of aggression will continue in the days to come because of the absence of unconditional declaration of ceasefire. BAYAN believes that the war on Gaza is instigated by the US policy of war on terror.

–  EDGAR PELAYO, Secretary-General, BAYAN – Palnay

(Photos Courtesy of Bayan=Panay)

Arkibong Bayan

Photos: KMP-Cebu and BAYAN-Central Visays mark the 22nd anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre

January 28, 2009

KMP-Cebu and BAYAN-Central Visays

mark the 22nd anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre

Cebu City

January 22, 2009

The KMP – Cebu, BAYAN – Central Visayas and progressive partylists held a street protest in Cebu to commemorate 22nd year of Mendiola Massacre. The rallyists went to the Department of Energy – VII to condemn off-shore mining in Cebu Strait particularly, in Sibonga and Argao, Cebu. After which, the progressive groups went to the Department of Agrarian Reform – VII to demand genuine agrarian reform, to junk CARP extension and to immediately pass the House Bill 3059 or (Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill). The militants also demanded justice to the victims of Mendiola Massacre and to stop militarization and political persecution.

— Jaime Paglinawan
Vice President for the Visayas
BAYAN – Central Visayas

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

Cordi land issues book off the press

January 12, 2009

BAGUIO CITY — A new book on the Cordillera land question is just off the press.

TI DAGA KET BIAG. The book contains five papers from the first Cordillera Multi-Sectoral Land Congress in March 1983, four papers from the second in July 1994, and four from the third in December 2001. It also features 12 full-color thematic maps of the Cordillera region. Photo by Noel Godinez

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) announced on December 20 the publication of Ti Daga Ket Biag (Land is Life), a 232-page compilation of selected papers from three Cordillera multi-sectoral land congresses in 1983, 1994 and 2001.

According to Joanna K. Cariño, CPA Advisory Council member, Ti Daga Ket Biag represents the long-standing “effort being put in by the people’s movement in the Cordillera in trying to clarify and to help in the eventual resolution of various land issues in the region.”

“While the data in many of the early papers may already be outdated, and there has been new research conducted since we decided to publish these in order to put on record and make available to the wider public the CPA’s efforts through the years to study and clarify some of the complicated land issues in the Cordillera,” Cariño said.

With a total of 13 papers from all three land congresses spanning 18 years, the book contains five papers from the first Cordillera Multi-Sectoral Land Congress in March 1983; four papers from the second in July 1994; and four from the third in December 2001.

Said congress papers and proceedings were earlier published in 1984, in the collection Dakami ya Nan Dagami, now out of print.

The book also features 12 full-color 8.5×11” thematic maps of the Cordillera region, which summarizes an immense volume of data such as topography, population density, ethnolinguistic distribution, land classification and natural resources, among others.

Cariño said the book is dedicated “to all the martyrs of the Cordillera peoples’ struggle in the defense of land.” She also said missing CPA leader James Balao had been deeply involved in the past land congresses and that his spirit “pervades this publication.”

A CPA regional officer said Ti Daga Ket Biag is now being distributed to non-governmental organizations and offices, schools, libraries, bookstores and other commercial and non-commercial outlets.

Two formal launch dates for the book are being scheduled for January, one in Baguio City and another in Manila. # Pio Verzola Jr.(NorDis)

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, 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.


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.

Arroyo won’t sign CARP resolution–solon

January 2, 2009

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 15:52:00 01/02/2009

Filed Under: Legislation, Laws, Congress, Agrarian Reform

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will not sign Joint Resolution 19 extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program for six months and will just let it lapse into law, Speaker Prospero Nograles has said.

Nograles said this was the President’s inclination as the joint resolution has been in Malacañang for almost three weeks after the House of Representatives transmitted the measure there.

“I am told that this will just lapse into law,” Nograles said in a text message Friday when asked if the President signed the resolution.

Nograles said the President “wanted to insert the provision to allow agricultural lands to be used as collateral for bank loans” but this was not included in the joint resolution approved by the Senate and the House.

Joint Resolution 19 extended the land distribution component of CARP for six months or until June 30, 2009 but did not include compulsory land acquisition. For six months, only those lands that will be under voluntary offer to sell (VOS) and voluntary land transfer (VLT) will be subject to distribution.

The resolution will lapse into law on January 23 if Arroyo does not sign it, Nograles said. He added that the House transmitted the measure to the Office of the President on December 19, but that it was officially received between December 20 and 23.

Farmers groups from Task Force Mapalad slammed the resolution as a virtual death for CARP, saying it did not mean anything without the compulsory acquisition component. The group has threatened to raise the matter before the Supreme Court.

Nograles said that “technically, it does not really matter” whether or not the President signed the measure. He said lawmakers have vowed to pass new legislation within the six- month period so that the agrarian reform program would continue.

In a separate text message, Akbayan partylist Representative Risa Hontiveros said the President should instead restore the compulsory land acquisition component into the resolution.

She said advocates of agrarian reform would continue pushing for House Bill 4077, which proposes a P100-billion allocation for compulsory land acquisition and increases the budget for agriculture support services from 23 percent to 43 percent of the CARP annual budget.

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, principal author of HB 4077, urged Arroyo to save CARP by vetoing the joint resolution.

Lagman said that “while the veto will result in the expiration of the land acquisition and distribution (LAD) component after Dec. 31, 2008, Congress in a special session or after the resumption of the regular sessions starting Jan. 19, 2009 can expeditiously act to revive the LAD with compulsory acquisition as the dominant mode for the mandatory coverage of the remaining landholdings consisting of 1.3 million hectares.”

“Allowing the LAD to lapse pending its authentic revival is better than a sham extension which is a virtual termination of the program,” Lagman had said.

Lagman said that the exclusion of the more important mode of compulsory acquisition would virtually kill CARP because:

• The remaining landholdings for coverage were those owned by landlords who have resisted or defied coverage for the past two decades and who obviously were not expected to belatedly volunteer to offer their lands for sale or transfer;
• Various independent and empirical studies have documented that the VOS and VLT have resulted to simulated and corrupted coverage under “artificial arrangements” with non-qualified beneficiaries;
• These studies have recommended the review and abandonment of VOS and VLT in favor of compulsory acquisition as the sole mode of coverage; and
• The VLT scheme has legally expired one year after the implementation of the CARP or 19 years ago pursuant to Section 20 (a) of Republic Act No. 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARP) and has been illicitly extended to deodorize the reported high performance of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on land coverage.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.)

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. ###


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)

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.


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.


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.


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)

Army Moves to Evict Peasants From Land

October 12, 2008

By virtue of a 1991 Deed of Transfer between the DND and the DAR, some 6,000 peasants and other residents in a 3,100-hectare area within a military reservation in Nueva Ecija should have acquired ownership of the land they live on and till. But they have not, and now they face the possibility of being driven away from the area.


Melencio Rioroso, 76, and Francisco Espiritu Apellido, 60, are two of the peasants farming and residing in Barangay (village) San Isidro in Laur, Nueva Ecija. That village is part of a 3,100-hectare area within the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) that is now the subject of a brewing land dispute.

Apellido has spent a good deal of his life in Brgy. San Isidro. He has lived there since 1966, or for 42 of his 60 years.

For as long as he can remember, it is the land in this village that has provided him and his family of eight with their daily needs. “Pagtatanim at pagbebenta ng gulay ang ikinabubuhay namin” (We earn our keep by planting and selling vegetables), he said.

He received a Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) for his one-hectare land in Brgy. San Isidro just three years ago.

Rioroso, meanwhile, has lived in at least three Nueva Ecija towns in the last three decades. Originally from Pantabangan, he and his family of eight moved to Palayan City in 1980 after acquiring six hectares of land there from a certain Armando Sabado. Two years later he and his wife, together with five of their children, moved to Laur, where they have lived since then.

In 1995, the Riorosos received four CLOAs for their land, which all in all covers 10 hectares.

Apellido and Rioroso are two of the over 1,000 peasants in the contested 3,100-hectare area within the FMMR who have received CLOAs since 1991. Right now, they live in fear of losing their lands to the military.

These farmers in Laur, Nueva Ecija, try to keep their land.

People have been settling in the 73,000-hectare area now known as the FMMR since the early 1950s.

In 1956, then President Ramon Magsaysay declared the area as a military reservation through Presidential Proclamation No. 237. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) uses 15,000 of the 73,000 hectares as a camp and training ground.

On Nov. 5, 1991, through a Deed of Transfer between then Defense Secretary Renato de Villa and then Agrarian Reform Secretary Benjamin Leung, the Aquino government allotted 3,100 hectares of the FMMR to landless peasants, as well as to families evacuating from Pampanga following the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo.

By virtue of this Deed of Transfer, over a thousand peasants and other residents within the 3,100-hectare contested area have received CLOAs, but many more still have yet to acquire these.

And now, those who do have CLOAs – like Apellido and Rioroso – face the possibility of losing these. The Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division (ID), which is stationed at Fort Magsaysay, is hell-bent on driving them away from the land that should have been turned over to them nearly 17 years ago.

An Oct. 5-6 fact-finding mission organized by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines), Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL or Peasant Alliance in Central Luzon), Alyansa ng Magbubukid na Nagkakaisa (ALMANA or United Peasant Alliance), Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR), Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), and Tanggol Magsasaka (Defend Farmers) found that the 7th ID has requested the DAR to cancel the CLOAs given to peasants within the 3,100-hectare contested area.

This request is contained in a June 24 letter by then Maj. Gen. Ralph Villanueva (recently promoted), commanding officer of the 7th ID, to a Mr. Orlando Tumacay, Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer of Nueva Ecija. Part of the letter reads thus:

This pertains to the dialogue conducted on 17 June 2008 at Hqs, 7ID regarding 3,100-hectare land within the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation which was ceded by the DND in favor of DAR through a Deed of Transfer executed on 05 November 1991. Also, the latest dialogue dealing on said issue transpired on 25 (sic) June 2008 at the same venue attended by DENR and DAR personnel from Cabanatuan City.

Based on the background investigation conducted by the Division Judge Advocate of this Command, said area is subject to a case filed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) against the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). This case is still pending at the Court of Appeals.

In this regard, may I request that all issuances of titles within the 3,100 hectares of the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation be deferred pending the litigation of the case filed at the Court of Appeals. I would like to further request that all Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) be revoked (emphasis supplied – AMR) upon the affirmation of the Secretary of Justice on our stand that the Deed of Transfer regarding the 3,100 hectares is null and void since only another Presidential Proclamation can declare such land use.

The Division Judge Advocate referred to in Villanueva’s letter is Col. Hermilo Barrios – the same “Colonel Barrios” who, Brgy. San Isidro residents told the fact-finding mission, has been going around the 3,100-hectare contested area, summoning them and the residents of the other villages to “meetings” and “assuring” them that their lands would not be taken.

Apellido and Rioroso have both lived and earned their living in Brgy. San Isidro for a good part of their lives, and cannot imagine themselves in any other place.

“Malalaman ko na lang siguro” (I’ll probably just find out later), Apellido said when asked where he will go if he and his family are driven away from the land.

“Ewan ko” (I don’t know), Rioroso said when asked the same question. (

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


“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


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.


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. (

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)

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.

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.


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

Farmland-as-Collateral Bills are Unjust

September 2, 2008

Four of the largest rural-based organizations in the Philippines have issued a statement opposing five proposed farmland-as-collateral bills in the House of Representatives, claiming they would lead to massive cancellations of land titles currently held by farmers who have benefited from the country’s agrarian reform program.

Politics in Command / UPI Asia Online
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 30, August 31-September 6, 2008

Manila, Philippines – Four of the largest rural-based organizations in the Philippines have issued a statement opposing five proposed farmland-as-collateral bills in the House of Representatives, claiming these would lead to massive cancellations of land titles currently held by farmers who have benefited from the country’s agrarian reform program.

“The proposed farmland-as-collateral bills in Congress are shotgun pieces of legislation. They are meant to re-concentrate lands in the hands of landed monopolies and deny peasant land rights all over the country,” the groups said in a press briefing last week.

The five bills currently in the House of Representatives seek to allow agrarian reform beneficiaries to mortgage farmlands awarded to them to obtain loans from banks and other financial institutions, using their land titles, such as their certificates of land ownership awards and emancipation patents, to gain broader access to credit.

“The House of Representatives should realize that a farmland-as-collateral bill, if enacted into law, would not provide farmers broader access to credit. They should consider that most of the agrarian reform beneficiaries are impoverished and bankrupt and would find it difficult to repay loans. Thus, it would lead to cancellation of the EPs (emancipation patents) and CLOAs (certificate of land ownership awards) through foreclosure of the mortgages. This would lead to re-concentration of the lands back to the hands of the landowners or the moneyed few,” the rural-based groups said.

One strong argument against these bills is the fact that the data on cancellations of CLOAs and EPs is shocking. Such cancellations proceed from farmers’ nonpayment of amortization for the awarded lands either under Presidential Decree No. 27 or the defunct Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

In September 2007, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) reported that 5,049 EPs and 103,092 CLOAs had been cancelled, involving 204,579 hectares of land. “This figure does not include pending cases of cancellation of EPs and CLOAs before the DAR. The agrarian reform department records likewise show that there are almost 50,000 cases pending before it, which involve exemption, conversion, and cancellation of EPs and CLOAs,” asserted Danilo Ramos, secretary general of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement in the Philippines), one of the rural groups.

To date, the DAR has not made an actual determination and inventory of how many land titles currently in the possession of farmers were cancelled.

Citing a study by the independent think tank IBON Foundation, the groups said more than 2,000 EPs and CLOAs, covering 380,000 hectares of land, were cancelled by mid-2004 alone. This shows a huge discrepancy with the report of the DAR.

These figures show that farmers could not afford to pay the amortization of the lands and that it would be even more difficult for them to pay back loans given their present situation. Thus, if farmlands were ever mortgaged, the result would most likely be the foreclosure of the mortgage for nonpayment of the loan.

The opposition bloc against the farmland-as-collateral bills said these would have the same effect as Section 26 of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (Republic Act No. 6657), which places the burden of “owning” the land on the farmers by compelling them to pay for the value thereof without providing sufficient support services to them.

In essence, this type of bill would allow for a “second mortgage” of farmlands to persons or entities. The first mortgage is that provided under Section 26 of RA 6657. It would therefore only exacerbate farmers’ indebtedness, usury and landlessness.

Section 26 of the defunct law provides that the awarded lands “shall be paid for by the beneficiaries to the LBP (Land Bank of the Philippines) or the landowner in thirty (30) annual amortizations at six percent interest per annum” and that “the Land Bank of the Philippines shall have a lien by way of mortgage on the land awarded to beneficiary and this mortgage may be foreclosed by the LBP for non-payment of an aggregate of three annual amortizations.” Also, “a beneficiary whose land as provided herein has been foreclosed shall thereafter be permanently disqualified from becoming a beneficiary under this Act.”

The truth of the matter is that a farmland-as-collateral bill, if enacted, is like offering the remaining lands in the possession of farmers on the altar of bankruptcy and extreme landlessness.

At present, a general interest rate in farmers’ loans of 15-35 percent per cropping season or four-month period is imposed by landowners and moneylenders. There are cases, however, where interest rates are more than 100 to 300 percent per cropping. Aside from interest, usurers extract bigger profits from the farmers through conditions tied to their money-lending business. These include cornering and undervaluing the farmer’s harvest, selling overpriced farm input, and renting out farm equipment at higher rates.

With the farmland-as-collateral bill, this situation would not be alleviated but instead reinforced. It would legalize usury and the unconscionable conditions attached to the money-lending business of the landowners and investors, to the detriment of the farmers.

It is not surprising that rural people are supporting the passage of House Bill No. 3059, or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, principally authored by the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin Beltran. This progressive bill essentially has provisions that would answer all the needs of the farmers, in contrast to the farmland-as-collateral bills or the revival of the bankrupt agrarian reform law.

Beltran’s HB 3059 primarily seeks to break land monopolies and distribute land for free to farmer beneficiaries to achieve social justice. This can only happen if farmers are secure in the lands awarded to them; if they can use the land according to the manner they deem best, for agricultural production; and if they are enjoying the fruits of their labor and of the land.

If the elements of security of tenure, the right to use, and the enjoyment of the fruits of the land awarded to the farmers, coupled with adequate support services, are all in place, then in all probability farmer beneficiaries will not be tempted to sell, mortgage, alienate or transfer the land. On the contrary, they will endeavor to make it more productive.

HB 3059 provides for the maximum guarantee and protection of a farmer’s right to security of tenure and the fruits of his land. There would be no reason to sell, mortgage or alienate the land, which was given to him for free in the first place.

The Manila government must drop its intention to collateralize the peasants’ right to land. UPI Asia Online / Posted by Bulatlat

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.

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.”


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.


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.”

Army killed Kalinga hunter – Rights group

August 11, 2008

BAGUIO CITY —Another farmer-hunter was killed in cold-blood by the military elements in Kalinga.

According to the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA), Rocky “Ungki” Aboli a village councilman, went to his farm in Mt. Bulos in Upper Uma last July 20 to guard his crops from wild animals.

At around 4:15 P.M., residents heard gunshots and immediately sent some youth to check what is it all about. The military in the area, however, did not allow them to pass through and just said that Aboli was safe with them and was being fed.

The next day, some members of the Uma tribe went to the site of the incident and found Aboli dead on the ground. The AFP troops just said to the community members that Aboli fired a gun to their direction and thus was fired back.  The CHRA identified the troops as belonging t the 21st and 77th Infantry Battalion f the Philippine Army.

The military, in a press statement by the 5th Infantry Division based in Upi, Gamu, Isabela, said Aboli was killed during an encounter between the military and members of the rebel group New People’s Army (NPA).

But according to a July 25 statement sent to the media by the Lejo Cawilan Command of the NPA-Kalinga, the military’s reports are nothing but “brazen lies.”

The NPA command said Aboli was shot to death by troops led by Lt. Jay Alambra, Lt. Aries Apduhan and a certain Major Domingo.

It was not the first time this year that elements of the 21st IB murdered a civilian, the statement added. Two witnesses identified Apduhan as the commanding officer of the troops who killed Rey “Aginawang” Logao in Kalasan, Mabongtot, Lubuagan on April 4.

According to CHRA statistics, at least 13 civilians were already killed by the government’s armed forces in Kalinga since 2002, all of whom were either wrongly accused of being combatants or supporters of the communist armed group.

“We, condemn in the strongest terms these military atrocities, the culture of impunity and the killings of innocent civilians,” the CHRA statement said. # (BarangayRP News Team)

Tillers hit Communist purge suspect’s transfer

August 3, 2008

By Jerome Aning, Tina Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:45:00 08/03/2008

THE TRANSFER TO A MANILA JAIL FROM Camp Crame of a farmer leader accused of orchestrating with others a purge of communist party members in Leyte in the mid-1980s has been assailed by militant peasant groups.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) deputy secretary general Randall Echanis was moved from the Philippine National Police Custodial Center at Camp Crame in Quezon City to the Manila City Jail at 9 a.m. yesterday, despite the protests of his family and lawyer.

The commitment order was issued Friday and signed by Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32, who is hearing Echanis’ case after it was ordered transferred to Manila from the Hilongos, Leyte, RTC by the Supreme Court.

“The court issued the order without informing me as the counsel. The order was a mere one sentence and no explanation was given as to why he was being moved,” said Echanis’ lawyer, Jobert Pahilga, in a phone interview with the Inquirer.

“We were surprised by the transfer. There should have been a hearing on a motion to transfer. We will question the order by filing a motion for reconsideration,” said Pahilga.

KMP chair and Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano condemned the transfer, saying Echanis, known as Ka Randy, was a political prisoner.

Not with common criminals

“He should not be mixed with suspected common criminals. We will hold the Arroyo government and the police principally liable if any untoward incident should happen to Ka Randy,” said Mariano in a statement.

The military has linked Echanis, together with Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison and Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo, to skeletal remains that were found in a mass grave on Mt. Sapang Daku in Inopacan, Leyte, on Aug. 26, 2006.

Echanis, founder of Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (Selda), is a suspected ranking member of the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, but Pahilga said the allegation had no basis.

The deaths were supposedly the result of a “purge” in the communist ranks.

A multiple murder case was filed in the Hilongos RTC. Echanis was arrested on Jan. 28, in Bago City, Negros Occidental, while attending a conference on agrarian reform conducted by the KMP and other farmer groups.

Echanis said the charges were trumped up because he was under military detention at Camp Adduro in Tuguegarao, Cagayan, from 1983 to 1986 when the military claimed the purges took place.

Politically motivated

Ocampo was also arrested in the case but the Supreme Court ordered his provisional release on bail in April 2007 while his petition for certiorari and prohibition was being reviewed.

Sison remains on self-exile in the Netherlands.

Mariano said the case against Echanis was obviously politically motivated and the government should not have arrested those included in the charge sheet pending resolution of Ocampo’s petition by the Supreme Court.

Echanis is being held in dorm 3, where inmates “with no gang affiliations are detained,” said Senior Jail Officer 2 Ramiro Bonifacio.

Pahilga said Echanis should not be detained at the Manila City Jail because the facility is “too congested.”

“He is 60 years old, he’s sickly. He suffers from hypertension,” he said, adding that he intended to consult a doctor regarding his client’s condition.

Some 4,574 inmates are now detained at the Manila City Jail, which has a capacity of only 2,000 to 3,000 inmates, a jail officer said.

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)

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


Lumads to launch indigenous food security program

July 8, 2008

SUNGKO, Lantapan, Bukidnon (MindaNews) — The Talaandig tribe of Bukidnon will embark on a “sustainable food production program” amid reports the world is facing a food crisis.

Datu Victorino Saway, a tribal leader of the Talaandigs in this town, also invited all other ethnic groups in Mindanao to replicate their own food security program which he described as “patterned from traditional way of producing food crops.”

“In fact,” Saway stressed, “people all over the world can also adopt a food security program similar with what we will do.”

The Talaandigs will launch their program in a religious ritual in September yet, but they have already conducted consultations with Lumad farmers who would participate in the year-long “pilot project.

“As of the moment, we already got the commitment of almost 100 Talaandig farmers who would support and join our food security project,” Saway said.

He identified at least three main agricultural crops that they plan to plant — camote (sweet potato), cassava and corn.

Saway explained that the three crops “will really address the food security the world is faced with because in every stage of the plants’ development, they could be harvested to serve as food.”

The young leaves of the camote, which he said are very nutritious and have medicinal value, could be steamed and served as salad.”

A study on the nutritive value of sweet potato conducted by South Korea’s Rural Development Administration shows that sweet potato contains antioxidants such as chlorogenic acid, isoclorogenic acid, and caffeic acid.

Taiwan’s Food and Fertilizer Technology Center shared the information on the RDA study with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development.”

Antioxidants, also identified as anti-aging nutrients are phytochemicals or substances (mostly present in fruits and vegetables), which neutralize the free radicals generated by the body during metabolism.”

Saway said the Lumads also steam and eat the leaves of cassava while waiting for its roots to mature.”

Cassava is grown for its enlarged starch-filled roots, which contains nearly the maximum theoretical concentration of starch on a dry weight basis among food crops.”

Fresh roots contain about 30 percent starch and very little protein.

Roots are prepared much like potato. They can be peeled and boiled, baked, or fried.”

For the Talaandigs and other ethnic groups in Mindanao, corn is a staple. Saway said that in “almost all stages” of corn’s growth, the Lumads could make use of it as food.

“The very young corn can be cooked as vegetable when cobs still have no grains, then the young  grains can either be steamed or roasted before it finally matures.”

He said “there are many other useful uses of corn” aside from being a staple of  the natives.”

Corn components can be found in thousands of products – food, drugs, cosmetics and cleansers, just to name a few,” the Talaandig leader  said.

A year after the launching of the food security program of the Talaandig Saway said they will host a week-long thanksgiving ritual that would showcase a variety of foods produced from the three crops.”

“We shall invite people and show them all the processes that would be involved in producing food for the table from these three crops,” he said eagerly and with optimism that “other farmers in Mindanao, Philippines and even the world could really appreciate and be encouraged to replicate this project.”

He said their food security project “is not costly because we would not be using fertilizers and chemicals.” (Romy Elusfa/MindaNews)

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.


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

Remembering Celso Pojas

June 18, 2008

As the spokesperson of Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP) in Southern Mindanao, Pojas was concerned over the plight of these Lumad farmers, still struggling for their ancestral land but ended up being displaced.

Davao City– On that early morning of May 15 this year, Celso Pojas, 45, was sipping a cup of coffee inside the Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP) office in Bugac, Maa when he got up, told a colleague he had to buy few cigarette sticks and went outside.

Nobody had an inkling it was to be their last time to talk to him.

As the secretary- general of Farmers’s Association of Davao City (FADC), Pojas was preparing to go to Compostela town as part of the support groups to attend to hundreds of Lumads, who were fleeing their homes in Monkayo and Compostela because of military operations there.

Pojas learned they were housed inside a gym and he was increasingly worried because he received reports the previous night that the evacuees were becoming uncomfortable with the presence of armed soldiers at the evacuation site.

As the spokesperson of Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP) in Southern Mindanao, Pojas was concerned over the plight of these Lumad farmers, still struggling for their ancestral land but ended up being displaced.

He was supposed to stay in Compostela for the duration of the evacuation and aside from his organizing work with farmers there, he was also assigned to cook food and to negotiate with soldiers who often visited the gym.

But only minutes after he got out of the office, his colleagues heard four gunshots, looked out and found his body sprawled just outside the gate.

As the first political activist killed in Davao city since President Arroyo assumed power, Pojas’s death alarmed militant group leaders, who used to view Davao city as a “safer” place for activists amidst the climate of political killings prevailing in the whole country.

Some of them, Bayan secretary-general for Southern Mindanao Jeppie Ramada, for instance, noticed being spooked around.

Days after Pojas’s death, Ramada noticed a person acting crazy, weeding an idle lot next to his house. Strange cars were also seen parking outside the offices of militant groups.

Since October last year, Pojas has been receiving death threats, the latest of which occurred during the transport strike organized only two days before his death.

Edil Gonzaga, spokesperson of the transport group Transmision-Piston, recalled how Pojas already felt being followed around during the transport strike that colleagues saw to it that they never broke away from him.

KMP was about to move to another office even before Pojas’s death but concerns about what happened in Compostela diverted their attention.

Pedro Arnado, vice-chairperson of KMP- SMR said that farmers agitating for land reform have mostly become the targets of extrajudicial killings in the country. Of the 903 political activists killed in the country since Arroyo assumed power, majority were farmers.

It was Friday, May 23, when Pojas was laid down to his final rest. For the first time since the 1980, people gathered at Davao’s Freedom Park, and paraded the casket of the slain peasant leader along the streets of Davao, reminiscent of the funeral march during the time of Martial Law.

Farmers coming all the way from Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental marched with Pojas’s family and friends from Freedom Park to the Davao Memorial Park, passing through the streets of F. Torres, Araullo, Quirino, Claveria and Ponciano.

“He was five years old when I brought them to Davao because I did not want them to be away from me,” said his father Felix Pojas, now 75 years old. Pojas’s mother died when he and his sibling were young.

Poverty prevented him from going to college after he finished high school. When his father remarried, Pojas helped support the family. His siblings remember him as the brother who sacrificed his life to become the breadwinner of the family.

He used to work for the Lapanday banana plantation but after seven years, he was fired when he joined the workers’ demand for increase in wages. Then, he worked as a canal surveyor in a banana packing house in Cabaguio, where he was also terminated after joining calls demanding insurance benefits from the company.

In 1991, he started joining a farmers’s group known as the United Farmers of Fatima (UFF).

Back to his farm, he was awakened to the conditions of peasants and started joining farmer’s groups. He was active in the struggle for genuine land reform to break off the chain of land monopoly from the hands of few big landlords and big capital. He joined the Mandug Farmers’ Association (Mafa) in 2001, an affiliate of FADC and two years after, became a council member of FADC.

Pojas’s father is a farmer beneficiary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in Fatima, Mandug. Despite the government’s touted claim to distribute land to the farmers, the land that was supposed to be for him under CARP was still difficult to obtain because the family had a hard time paying for the amortization fee.

Joel Virador, Bayan Muna national vice chairperson, said that the tragedy that happened to Pojas could usually drive people to desperation. “That’s why, some people opt to support armed struggle, because their demand for genuine agrarian reform and food for their families are oftentimes met with bullets,” Virador said during the Freedom Park rally.

Filled with grief over his passing, fellow activists said they were not cowed by what happened and pledged to continue his fight. “It is very clear for us who killed Celso Pojas,” Kelly Delgado said.

“We raise our fist to hail him the peasants’s hero,” said Gonzaga.

Danilo Ramos, the KMP national secretary- general who read a poem on the last night of Pojas’ wake, said that for every grain of rice that Pojas fought for, was life not only for farmers but also for the Filipino people.

“He lived such a deep and meaningful life,” Ramos said. (Grace S. Uddin/

Comrades light candles as a symbolic way of saying that with a light of one torch, hundreds, thousands will follow the step of Pojas. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

CULPRIT. Danilo Ramos, KMP National Secretary- General holds a portrait of President Arroyo. According to him, hundreds had been killed under the administration’s Oplan Bantay Laya II. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

Members and leaders of progressive organizations sign the KMP flag with their names to pledge their unceasing commitment in serving the people. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

A FATHER’S GRIEF. Felix Pojas laments over the death of his eldest child. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

His death is heavy on the hearts of the farmers, his friends, comrades and family. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

FUNERAL MARCH. Colleagues want to show to the people of Davao City what the Arroyo regime and the military have done. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

JUSTICE! For slain peasant mass leader Celso Pojas. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

FAREWELL peasant hero. ( photo by Jonald Mahinay)

A father’s last look at his son. ( photo by Jonald Mahinay)

Why they flee sitio Bermuda

June 18, 2008

Davao City–Somewhere in Bankerohan, in a compound still shady with trees, three-week-old Vermon Autan sleeps soundly on a mat in the bottom bunk of the dormitory-type room that he shares with his parents and four other siblings.

The place is not his home.

But crying only when he wants milk from his mother, Vermon looks at peace. He shows no sign of being scarred from the journey that his parents and the rest of his Ata-Manobo tribesmen took from their home in sitio Bermuda on May 12.

How he came upon this place was a long story.

It started in the afternoon of May 2, before Vermon was born, when his father, Allan Autan, 33, was on his way home to their village in Purok 4-B, Barangay Mangayon, in the municipality of Compostela. Allan was with his brother Jennis, 19.

They had spent several hours cutting down four trees. They planned to sell the lumber to furniture makers to tide their family over while waiting for the profit from the rice that was yet to ripen.

Allan especially needed emergency money because his wife was about to give birth to Vermon, their fifth child.

A few meters from their village, the brothers were startled when they looked up and saw two uniformed government soldiers with their long firearms trained at them. Allan recognized the guns — a machine gun and an M-16 rifle. In his teens, his family lived in Talaingod, Davao del Norte and he was the favorite errand boy of the government soldiers stationed in their village.

BABY VERMON. Baby Vermon Autan, his mother Jenalyn and his four siblings have since been transferred from Bankerohan gym after the three week old baby got sick. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

Allan immediately raised his hands. “Good afternoon,” he greeted the soldiers in the vernacular. The soldiers responded by grabbing him and his brother and forcing him on the ground. Then, the soldiers took his machete from his side and forcefully removed his backpack, where he had carefully placed vegetables he had picked up along the way and was planning to cook for dinner.

The soldiers shouted at them, asking where they lived. They said that they were from Purok 4-B, which was just a few meters away. The soldiers refused to believe them and accused them of being supporters or members of the New Peoples Army.

But the brothers denied the accusation. Allan reasoned that they couldn’t be NPA members because they were carrying a chain saw.

Then, the soldiers asked the name of their purok or village hall. Since the hall was barely finished, the village had yet to give it a formal name. When Allan tried to explain this, the soldiers wouldn’t accept his explanation. Instead, they took it as further proof that he wasn’t really from the village and, therefore, was indeed an NPA member.

In the midst of the shouting, Allan barely noticed that the soldiers had made his younger brother go on ahead. He was preoccupied by the two soldiers, a third one joining them in a few minutes. Not content with shouting, the soldiers started to strangle him. Three times, they also put Allan’s head inside a plastic bag.

Allan thought he was going to die each time his head was in the bag. He felt like he was drowning, his oxygen supply cut off. But he was still alive.

Each time the soldier removed the bag from his nose and mouth, his ears would ring with shouted questions and accusations. The soldiers wanted him to admit that he was a member of the NPA.

Allan denied the accusation. So, one of the soldiers took Allan’s machete and tried to strike him. Allan says he doesn’t know where he got the strength to catch the machete by clapping his hand and catching the sharp blade between his palms. The soldiers took his speed and agility as another proof that he was a trained member of the NPA.

Allan explained that he was merely protecting himself but the soldiers would not believe him. They forced Allan’s head inside the cooking pot that the brothers had used to store their lunch. His head wouldn’t fit, so, it was very painful.

Then, the soldiers forcibly removed his shirt, using it to bind his hands behind his back and forced him facedown.

Thinking that he was going to die, Allan called on God. One soldier laughed. He said that there was no God and that it was useless to call on Him. Trying to prove his point, another soldier pushed him harder on the ground, this time grinding his face on the mud, cutting off his oxygen. For good measure, one soldier also sat on his back but Allan would not admit to the soldiers’ accusations.

LATE NIGHT FLIGHT. Though still sore from being beaten by elements of the military, Allan Autan had to carry his wife on the night that his terrified tribe fled their village. Jenalyn had given birth earlier that day and Allan’s back was drenched in blood after the six-hour walk.( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

Then, the soldiers told Allan to get up and accompany him. Allan refused. He was afraid that he might be taken to a more secluded place and gunned down. He was also exhausted.

Finally, one soldier pulled at the hair on his sideburns to force him up. He was still pulling Allan by his sideburns when his wife Jenalyn, still pregnant with Vermon, arrived. She warned the soldier against hurting her husband, who was already tired from felling trees. The soldier who had Allan by the sideburns denied that they were hurting Jenalyn’s husband. Jenalyn said that it was clear that her husband had been roughed up because he was muddy and full of scratches.

One of the soldiers told his companions to let Allan go because the latter’s wife was pregnant and might have the baby prematurely.

The soldier held on to Allan’s sideburns and didn’t reply. Instead, he continued to drag Allan. He brought him to where the rest of the soldiers were. Allan slumped to the ground because he had no more strength on his knees.

He tried to note the names of the soldier who beat him up but among the 20 soldiers who arrived in their sitio that day, no nameplate was visible. Either the nameplates were removed or soldiers covered their chests with bullet bands or sarongs. A badge that the soldiers were wearing, however, identified them with the 28th IB (Infantry Battalion) of the Philippine Army.

When Jenalyn continued to berate the soldiers for hurting her husband, one of the soldiers told her that what happened to him was their own fault. The soldier said he was tired of defending the Lumads against the NPA. He said the Lumads were not very cooperative in providing them with information needed to quash the NPA.

After a few minutes, two of Jenalyn’s neighbors arrived with their small children. They also asked the soldiers to release Allan. After about half an hour, the soldiers relented.

Allan reported what happened to him to the purok chairperson, Oraya Bansayluan the following morning. He asked Bansayluan and Rey Guimbuloy, the president of their local Lumad organization, to accompany him to Mangayon barangay captain Ramon Diaz to report the incident.

At the barangay hall, Diaz contacted Compostela municipal mayor Reynaldo Castillo, who was still in Davao City. After some time, the mayor called Diaz, who told the mayor about what happened to Allan. Castillo told Diaz to have Allan come to his office the next day for lunch.

Guimbuloy was able to contact officers of the southern Mindanao regional Lumad group Pasaka that afternoon. The officers told him to bring the group to the town of Compostela where they would be picked up and brought to Davao City. The group arrived in Davao on May 5. They went to the human-rights group Karapatan where they asked for help in filing cases against the soldiers before the Commission on Human Rights.

They also visited different radio and television stations to let the people know what was happening in their area. But afraid that his wife might give birth, Allan asked to go back home.

The three reached sitio Bermuda on May 10. Bansayluan and Guimbuloy went back to work on their fields the next day but Allan, who was still sore from the scratches and all the bruises, opted to rest one more day.

In the morning of the 12th, just as Allan was preparing to go back to work on his fields, Jenalyn’s labor pains started. Allan called his mother who helped deliver the baby.

Vermon was born at six in the morning.

Allan was happy but was also a bit apprehensive. The birth meant he had to stay away from his fields one more day to tend to the needs of the four other children and to let his wife rest.

But only a few hours after Vermon was born, government soldiers arrived in the village. Allan’s neighbors told him that it was the same group that was there the week before. Those who beat up Allan was also there. All of them still had their nameplates covered or removed.

Allan was scared. His neighbors also told him how the soldiers accosted Bansayluan at the unfinished purok and rebuked him for allowing Allan to complain in public. Allan feared that the soldiers might come for him.

The soldiers left the village after lunch. Before they left, they warned the Lumads that they would go back and burn all their houses if anything were to happen to them in an encounter with the NPA.

At 3 pm, the Lumads heard gunfire. They gathered at the purok, remembering the soldiers’ warning. They agreed that they had to leave immediately.

More soldiers arrived at 4:30 pm to serve as reinforcement to those who had passed by earlier. The uniformed men told the Lumads they would bear the brunt of the soldiers’ anger if any of the soldiers got hurt.

After the soldiers left, some villagers started packing, bringing clothes, cooking pots and what little food they had in stock.

CHOKED. Allan has filed a case against members of the 28th IB after he was allegedly strangled and his head put inside a plastic bag. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

Bansayluan, however, couldn’t decide to leave right away. He was concerned for Jenalyn, who had just given birth that morning and couldn’t possibly make the long journey on his own. Allan, whom Bansayluan knew was still sore from the soldiers’ beating the week before, would have to carry his wife. He decided to leave their fate with Allan.

But Allan knew that the soldiers had already marked him because he had filed charges against them. Although his bruises were still smarting, he decided to leave. He wrapped Jenalyn in a malong and had her wrap her arms around his neck.

Allan’s mother carried the newly born Vermon while Jennis and Allan’s younger sister took care of his other children, aged six, four, three and one.

At around 6 pm, the gunfire stopped. The villagers knew that the soldiers would soon be on their way back. One neighbor who just purchased a sack of rice, divided it among themselves, one can for every child in the family. At around 10 pm at night, they started walking. They kept on walking until they reached sitio Salbasyon at 4 at dawn.

When they arrived, Allan’s back was drenched in blood because Jenalyn was still bleeding.

By motorcycle, Salbasyon was still two hours away from the center of Compostela. Allan still felt a bit uneasy but the Lumads were exhausted and tried to find a place to rest in the church, in the purok and even in just a piece of ground.

Guimbuloy contacted Pasaka, who had asked assistance from the mayor. At 9 that morning, a truck from the mayor’s office arrived, ready to transport them to the center of Compostela. The mayor also volunteered free use of the municipal gym.

However, Allan’s nightmare wasn’t over. Military personnel also started arriving at the gym as soon as the Lumads arrived. They were in full battle gear, brandishing their long firearms and vests full of bullets!

“They are here — the people whom we are running away from,” Allan thought.

Some soldiers tried to talk to their children who immediately ran to their mothers. Allan and other Lumads were terrified because some soldiers taunted them, asking them to go and identify the bodies of their friends, referring to the NPAs that they had killed.

On May 14, a day after they arrived at the Compostela gym, the Lumads trooped to the provincial hall, where the members the provincial board were having their regular session. They also aired their grievances to Compostella Valley governor Arturo “Chongkee” Uy.

After Lumad leaders narrated what happened to them under the hands of the military, the provincial officials promised to provide the Lumads not just with temporary shelter but also with food.

But the Lumads wanted more.

They wanted a stop to the military operations. To ensure this, they wanted a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between them and the soldiers.

Allan said he was a little “buoyed” when local officials set the date for the MOA signing with the military on either Friday the 16th or Monday the 19th.

His feeling was short lived. Minutes after they got back to the Compostela gym from the provincial hall, 50 military men in full battle gear arrived. The soldiers began to set up an LCD projector for the Lumads to watch a film that the soldiers had prepared.

Allan said he did not care what they were going to say or do but he didn’t want soldiers anywhere near his family.

It was downhill from there. On May 15, a day before the Provincial Peace and Order Council was supposed to be convened, Governor Uy arrived and tried to make the Lumads agree to go home to their village with an assurance that they will no longer be harassed by soldiers. On the 16th, the military arrived at the gym again. Allan said he was frightened because it seemed that they were taking over. He realized then that no MOA signing between the Lumads and the military for a stop of the military operations was going to happen.

Some of the Lumads thought of going to Davao City to tell more people about their plight. Allan thought Davao was a safer place to go for him and his family. Lumad leaders presented this idea to everybody in the gym. Five families opted to stay behind, asking the Compostela mayor to take them back home, while Allan and most of the Lumads opted to go to Davao. They’ve been staying inside the Bankerohan gym since May 16.

For a woman who survived the long journey shortly after giving birth, Jenalyn is still bleeding. But the medical personnel attending to her gave the assurance that all her vital signs point to a normal recovery. Around her, the four kids run and laugh freely. Only Vermon is truly unaware of what happened to them the last few weeks. He only knows the warmth of being wrapped in his mother’s arms as he suckles on her breast. (CJ Kuizon/

Maj. Gen. Cunanan’s baptism is a defilement of indigenous culture

June 16, 2008

June 14, 2008

The PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao decried the baptism of Eastmincom Commander Major General Armando L. Cunanan led by the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Conference on Peace and Development (MIPCPD) last June 13 as the MIPCPD paid the newly appointed chief a courtesy call.

Traditionally, lumads would use the rite of baptism to welcome someone into the tribe, an act which many lumad groups consider tantamount to accepting someone as a blood relation or member of the tribe.

But PASAKA calls it a defilement of the lumad culture and warned the military that not all lumads are party to the agreements or negotiations entered into by the MIPCPD.

“If the military enters into the picture, the cultural importance of the rite is reduced to a mere military tactic that is an abuse of the hospitality of lumads, and a penetration of the tribe in order to turn lumads against perceived enemies of state. With this, the MIPCPD has given its bias and loyalty only to the military which is the number one aggressor of lumad peoples’ rights,” said Kerlan Fanagel, Secretary General of PASAKA.

Fanagel added that the MIPCPD has a standing Memorandum of Understanding with the Eastern Mindanao Command executed on November 28, 2007. Fanagel said  the MIPCPD’s MOU with the eastmincom showcases the military’s “bastardization” of lumad culture.

He added, “Gen. Cunanan should keep mind that not all lumads would fall into their dragnet of terror. Many lumad groups are being deceived as the MIPCPD and the military promise them with development and peace while some are merely hostaged and threatened with their lives.   Despite this, many lumad groups have kept their dignity and would rather risk their lives rather than be co-opted by the military’s inhumane practices.”

PASAKA condemned the military’s integration of lumads into its counter-insurgency

operations saying it is a human rights violation that has long been protested by indigenous peoples to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples (UNSRIP).

Fanagel called for the stop of the recruitment of lumads into CVO’s or the formation of vigilante groups which he said is a prevalent practice in many lumad communities.

Last May 8, Joel Unad was shown in local television recruiting lumads of Laak, Compostela Valley into paramilitary groups which got a negative remark from Laak Mayor Rey Navarro himself.

Also on May 5, in New Bataan, around 250 lumads have been reportedly recruited to join the paramilitary groups in a gathering called Kaimunan organized by the Kaimunan Lumad sang Compostela. Residents of New Bataan reported to PASAKA that before the gathering, the military conducted “pulong-pulong” and threatened them about the consequences if they will not attend or join the paramilitary groups.

UNSRIP Rodolfo Stavenhagen after its 2002 visit to the Philippines recommended to the Philippine government to stop the recruitment of indigenous peoples into civilian armies.


Kerlan Fanagel

Secretary General

PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao

Media Desk: April


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Militant group tags Canete as AFP spokesperson

June 14, 2008

THE regional office of Karapatan Human Rights Alliance tagged Special Investigator Jesus Canete of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as the spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Negros Oriental.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

Vimarie Arcilla, information officer of Karapatan-Central Visayas, issued the statement after Canete “cleared” AFP members deployed in Linantuyan village in Guihulngan for their alleged involvement in any form of human rights violations.

Canete earlier went to the Linantuyan village upon orders of CHR Regional Director Alejandro Alonso when they heard reports of violations from broadcast stations and print outlets on the alleged arson, rape and other forms of harassments committed by members of the 11th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in the countryside of Guihulngan.

“We believe he (Canete) should first should do real investigation, instead of just parroting out what Lieutenant Colonel Nemesio Gacal says,” Arcilla said.

She said what Canete claimed as one-man investigation was actually a platoon-sized charade directed by 11th Infantry Battalion soldiers who herded residents in a “pulong-pulong” with him.

“In this light we ask: When did Jesus Canete become the mouthpiece of the Armed Forces of the Philippines?” the Karapatan official said.

According to her, Canete has no capacity to delve into the human rights violations since he is not “even wise enough to ask and investigate both sides of the story.

“Canete didn’t even bother to ask and investigate Lourdes Baloy, the victim of the malicious vilification campaign by the AFP,” she said, adding that Canete only reiterated worn-out lines of the AFP maligning legitimate organizations such as Karapatan.

“How should one investigate? Why Canete didn’t consider the background of the four peasants prior to the execution of the affidavits? Perhaps, it would interest him to know how the peasants end up in the detachments. Or does he really believe that the peasants have a choice to turn down a summon or ‘invitation’ from the military. If he does not think that ‘mere invitation from police and military already constitute an arrest,’ then he should review his Constitution,” said Arcilla. (SunStarDumaguete)

Southern Palawan indigenous people don’t want PAMB to manage ancestral lands

June 12, 2008

INDIGENOUS GROUPS in southern Palawan stand firm to take full control in the management of their ancestral lands than allowing the Protected Areas Management Board (PAMB) take care of it if Mt. Mantalingahan is declared a ”protected area.”

This is the contention of the Brooke’s Point Federation of Tribal Councils (Brofetrics) that opposes the proposal of some non-government organizations (NGOs) to declare the whole of Mt. Mantalingahan as a protected landscape and disallow the entry of mining explorations and operations.

Juanito Lacubtan, the adviser of the Brofetrics, said that Conservation International (CI), together with its funders, has offered them livelihood projects but the indigenous peoples have chosen to remain strong in their stand not to allow any organization to encroach over their rights to manage their ancestral lands.

”Many groups have come here but nothing good has happened to our lives,” he said, adding they believe that if the mountain range becomes a protected area under PAMB, the IPs will be deprived of utilizing the resources within its area.

”Our lives depend on that land. We want to benefit from the bounty that Mantalingahan has,” said Reina Dulay, president of the Brofetrics.

Dulay said what the members of the Brofetrics want is for them to be guided in making their Ancestral Domand Sustainable Development and Protection Program (ADSDPP) as a means to wisely manage their resources.

The ADSDPP is ”in consonance with the Constitutional mandate to ensure the best interest of Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs)/Indigenous Peoples (IPs), the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA) or Republic Act 8371 that was promulgated to recognize, promote and protect the rights of ICCs/IPs to their ancestral domains, including their inherent right to self-governance and self-determination and their right to freely pursue development and equally enjoy the full measure of human rights and freedoms without distinction or discrimination.”

In addition, it ”may also facilitate the conduct of Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process as it provides a checklist of development programs and projects identified by the ICCs/IPs themselves. As a long term plan, the ADSDPP forms the basis of convergence of efforts of the government and other development entities for ICCs/IPs.

”We don’t need the PAMB, what we need is for us to be taught how to come up with an ADSDPP,” Dulay said.(PalawanTimes)

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.

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.


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.

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).

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).


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

Bayan demands results from Task Force Pojas

June 10, 2008

Davao City – Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) held a protest rally on May 29 at Camp Leonor, San Pedro St., Davao City to demand from Task Force Pojas the results of their investigations on the killing of peasant leader Celso Pojas.

Pojas was killed last May 14 at the height of his involvements in the anti-militarization campaign in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental and in the independent investigation of the Diarog killing. He was at that time chairperson of the Farmers Association of Davao City, a member organization of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

“We have not heard any development regarding the investigations that Task Force Pojas has been conducting since its formation a day after Celso Pojas was killed. Weeks have passed and we fear that their investigations are going nowhere,” Bayan secretary general Jeppie Ramada said.

Bayan reiterated that the killing of Celso Pojas was an execution under Oplan Bantay Laya 2 of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Arroyo government. “While the killings continue to claim innocent lives, the suspects remain at large with impunity,” Ramada added.

Ramada also revealed the ongoing surveillances on the offices of Bayan and other progressive organizations in Davao City. “Unidentified men are seen constantly tailing our mass leaders including myself,” Ramada added.

Ramada urged the Local Government Unit and the Davao City Council to act decisively to end the series of extrajudicial killings happening in the city.

“The city’s peace and order situation is getting so alarming and we call on the people to be vigilant in protection of their lives and of those who stand courageously for truth, justice, and equality,” Ramada ended.(DavaoToday)

‘Exodus’ calls for end to militarization in countryside

June 10, 2008

Concerned organizations and individuals form an alliance called Exodus for Justice and Peace to call for a stop of the militarization in the countryside and for the return of hundreds of Lumads displaced from their communities. The alliance also seeks justice for the death of tribal chieftain Dominador Diarog, peasant leader Celso Pojas and other victims of human rights violations. ( photo by Jonald Mahinay)

Lawyer Beverly Musni, one of the convenors of EXODUS for Justice and Peace, talks about the displacement of lumads in Mindanao during the time of President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo. She estimates about a million people displaced in different parts of Mindanao from 2001- 2008. ( photo by Jonald Mahinay)

Exodus’s members sign a statement of unity calling attention to the daily needs of victims, including health and medical services, psychosocial therapy sessions for women and children, legal services, moral support, among others. ( photo by Jonald Mahinay)

Editorial Cartoon: Reviving Devil

June 9, 2008

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

Peasant leader killed in front of family in Negros–police

June 9, 2008

By Carla Gomez
Visayas Bureau
First Posted 09:13pm (Mla time) 06/08/2008

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines–A peasant leader was executed in the presence of his wife and 11-year-old son in Manapla, Negros Occidental, the police said on Sunday.

PO3 Ron Somondong of the Manapla police identified the victim as Armando Dolorosa, 45, vice president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers chapter at Hacienda Marian, Barangay (village) San Pablo in Manapla.

Three unidentified persons, armed with high-powered firearms and wearing bonnets, summarily executed Dolorosa at his house at Hacienda Marian at around 7:30 p.m. on Friday (June 6), according to his wife Janetta.

Janetta said her husband died of 23 gunshot wounds in different parts of the body.

She said her family believed that her husband’s killing was related to the implementation of the agrarian reform program in Negros Occidental.

Somondong said the victim might have known the killers, one of them he was heard to have called “Tol,” as he even welcomed them to his house.

Janetta, in a separate interview, recalled that a burst of gunfire followed after her husband invited the perpetrators to enter their house.

She said she saw her husband’s assailants run away but they immediately returned and pumped more bullets into the body of her husband, to make sure he was dead.

Policemen recovered 12 empty shells of M-16 and .30 rifles from the crime scene, Somondong said.

Janetta told police investigators her husband and 36 other agrarian reform beneficiaries were given Certificates of Land Ownership Awards by the Department of Agrarian Reform 2007 over a portion of land in Hacienda Marian.

Janetta said that since then, Dolorosa had been receiving death threats from persons whom she described as “planters.”

She, however, hinted that one of the gunmen whom her husband called “Tol” was a family friend.

Dolorosa recalled that the animosity started between her husband and “Tol” after agrarian reform beneficiaries in the hacienda got their CLOAs. “Tol” was not one of the beneficiaries, she said.

Armando was the third local NFSW leader who was killed in Manapla since 2003, police records show.(PDI)


My Take:

This only shows that the government’s seemingly approval of these type of crime (as seen thru its inaction), invites more perpetrators to sow terror in the countryside.

Dahil walang hinuhuli at napapagpanagot, pati ang mga simpleng alitan ay nagiging dahilan na rin para magpatayan.

Kasalanan ito ng gobyerno.

‘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.


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

Pedro Arnado
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – SMR

Evacuees reiterate call for local gov’t; church to broker MOA with military for pull-out

June 8, 2008

DAVAO CITY (Nabokasa/6 June) — Lumad and farmers who evacuated to Davao in search for safer grounds are appealing to the local government of Compostela Valley Province as well as church leaders to support their demands for a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the military so that they may finally be able to back home.

“We appeal to the local government and other agencies to heed our demands for peace. We’ve been here for 21 days, knocking on doors of the NCIP, the church, and the local government. We’ve also picketed the military command in the region but our calls for peace are unheard. We want to go home but only if there is an assurance that abuses won’t happen again,” Rey Guimboloy, the chairperson of the NABOKASA, the local Ata-Matigsalug organization in Compostela said.

Aside from safe passage, the evacuees demand a complete military pull-out from their communities, a stop to the human rights violations such the use of civilians as military guide and the use of civilian places such as homes, schools and places of worship for military purposes.

The evacuees also challenged the regional offices of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to perform their duties.

“What now is the response of the NCIP to the petition and human right cases we filed at its office? The only clear answer they told is that they do not have funds to help us. But more than that, what have they done?” Jimmy Saipan, a farmer from Brgy. Ngan also in Compostela town which has also been affected by the spate of military operations from April to May this year.

In some reports the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has already looked into the alleged series of abuses against Allan Autan who is one of the evacuees now staying at the Bankerohan Gym.

The report said that this may be “the first documented case of human rights abuses to be presented to Pope Benedict XVI.”

Reverend Jurie Jaime, a UCCP pastor and convener of the recently-formed Exodus for Justice and Peace supported the demands of the evacuees.

He said “The evacuees are yearning to go back home, especially since the children don’t want to miss school. But they want a strong agreement that they can hold on to.”

He added, “Our peace building efforts only go as far as the victims pursue peace. Here we see people who are fighting for justice and peace. They need the support of the civil libertarians and rights defenders especially the church and the real public servants in the local government.”

The Exodus for Justice and Peace was formally launched on May 27 in response to the series of forcible evacuations that happened in the Davao region since the start of the year.

Its head conveners are members of the major religious organizations and civil libertarian groups in Davao City , namely, Sr. Luz Mallo, ma, and Sr. Irene Kaharian of the Missionaries of the Assumption, Bishop Delfin Callao of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Bishop Constante Claro of the UCCP – Southern Mindanao Jurisdiction Bro. Noelvic H.. Deloria, sc, Bro. Jose Godofredo G. Sapigao, sc and other church workers.

June 6, 2008.

Rey Guimboloy
Chairperson, NABOKASA
(Ata-Matigsalug lumad organization)

Bukidnon clergy: all eyes on BOR decision on CMU’s Lao

June 8, 2008

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/5 June) – The Bukidnon clergy, led by Bishop Honesto Pacana, has remained steadfast in its position against Central Mindanao University President Mardonio Lao, who defended himself last week amid calls for his ouster due to tenure and land-related issues.

Fr. Jonathan Tianero, speaking on behalf of Pacana, said the bishop won’t fire back at Lao because “he knows where he stands” even if Lao accused the prelate of helping an investigation for his ouster.

Instead, Tianero said, they are looking forward to the upcoming CMU Board of Regents meeting, where they expect Lao to be stripped of his post and a search committee for his successor would be formed.

He said the BOR, headed by Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chair Romulo Neri, is expected to meet tomorrow, June 6.

Tianero said they are optimistic about a BOR decision against Lao since the CHED’s legal opinion on the extension of Lao’s “services” as CMU president was “void and illegal.”

In a press conference on May 30 in CMU, Lao told members of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas – Bukidnon chapter that it was Pacana who reported him to Malacañang.

Tianero said Lao even allegedly accused the bishop of railroading the investigation conducted by the Presidential Management Staff, following a trail of letters for a probe coming from Pacana and Bukidnon Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr.

The bishop’s letter to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Tianero said, was based on documented complaints not just from the priests but also from the students, faculty, farmers and lumads.

“There is nothing personal in it. He only did it to help the people who sought the aid of the Church,” Tianero said.

Tianero said the process could take a long time involving more people.

Lao said last week he would await a decision from the Court of Appeals on a motion for reconsideration the university filed over the land dispute involving Presidential Proclamation 310 delineating at least 670 hectares of CMU lands to lumads.

CMU has taken a legal course to evade the order, invoking its rights to the titled lands.

“We will give in if there’s a decision on that but until there is none, we won’t allow them (lumads) in,” Lao said earlier.

Tianero claimed the BOR under Neri may treat the issue of land dispute and Lao’s tenure as two separate issues. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)

SouthCot Lumads score delays in issuance of titles

June 8, 2008

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/5 June) – Tribal leaders in this city and nearby Polomolok and Tupi towns in South Cotabato deplored the long-delayed processing of their ancestral land titles that even worsened with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples’ (NCIP) suspension of delineation activities in the area earlier this year.

Marcis Sanmento, a leader of B’laan land claimants here, said their claims are currently facing uncertainty due to the suspension of the land surveys and the delineation activities in the area based on NCIP Resolution No. 212, which was approved last March 14.

“We really don’t know what to do now. We have been fighting for our land titles for many years now and we cannot afford to face another delay,” Sanmento said in the vernacular.

Sanmento’s clan is claiming at least 4,328 hectares of their ancestral lands covering Barangays and Sinawal here for the last 20 years.

He said their clan first applied for their ancestral land title in 1987 and they already spent around P6 million for its processing before the NCIP suspended its delineation activities last March.

According to NCIP’s Resolution 212, the decision to suspend its delineation activities was due to the “recent killings and assassination plots on NCIP officials in the Province of South Cotabato.”

It said the killings and the alleged assassination plots have sown fear and terror among NCIP employees in the provincial office and the community service centers.

“Said tragic situation prompted the commission to suspend the delineation activities in the area to give ample time for the NCIP investigating team and law enforcement agencies to gather vital information and evidence in the resolution thereof,” the NCIP said.

The resolution said the suspension of delineation activities covers all ancestral land claims in the towns of Polomolok and Tupi in South Cotabato and General Santos City area.

The resolution was signed by NCIP Chairman Eugenio Insigne and Commissioners Rizalino Segundo, Noel Felongco, Rolando Rivera, Miguel Imbing Sia Apostol and Jannette Serrano-Reisland.

Since January, at least two NCIP officials in South Cotabato have been gunned down by still unknown suspects.

NCIP’s ancestral domain coordinator Tommy Dawang was killed by motorcycle-riding suspects in Polomolok town last January 20 while newly-appointed NCIP-South Cotabato provincial director Engr. Rafaelito Handoc was shot dead in Koronadal City last March 5.

Gina Malumpong, who represents another B’laan clan claiming a portion of Sitio Cabuay in Barangay Sinawal here, said they understand the predicament of the NCIP employees but stressed that the suspension order will not solve them.

“Further delaying these processes will leave us with no other legal option. I hope they will listen to us and eventually reconsider their decision,” she said.

Sanmento and Malumpong were among the more than 50 tribal leaders and elders representing 25 claimant organizations and clans in Region XII and Maguindanao province who converged here Tuesday for the two-day First Regional Coalition Forum on Indigenous Peoples’ Ancestral Domain.

The forum was aimed at strengthening the advocacy campaigns for the IPs ancestral domain claims and building a coalition process “for a unified approach to secure ancestral domain claims and ensure future food security of the IPs.”

It is supported by the Tri-People Concern for Peace, Progress and Development of Mindanao Inc., HESED Foundation, Partners for First People Foundation, Inc., Rural Development Institute-PhilNet Sultan Kudarat, Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel, League of Indigenous Peoples for Ancestral Domain (LIPAD) in Mindanao and the Federation of Ancestral Domain Claim Organization in Southern Mindanao.

On Tuesday, forum delegates adopted a resolution urging the NCIP to lift the suspension of the delineation activities on the ancestral lands in the area.

Ben Dalimbang, newly elected LIPAD chair, said copies of the resolution will be submitted to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, House of Representatives, Senate and local government units in the area. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)