By Reynard Magtoto
LEGAZPI CITY – Bicolano farmers lauded Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas’ (KMP) 8th National Congress happening here to highlight the peasantry’s strong and united call for free land distribution.
More than a thousand farmers and peasant leaders from KMP’s 15 regional chapters nationwide gathered at the time of Martial Law in Mindanao and creeping repressive rule of the present administration.
Among the main demands of farmers are the genuine land reform in coco lands, the realization of free land distribution which was agreed by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) during the previous rounds of formal peace talks, the return of the P75-billion coco levy fund to small coconut farmers and other demands that will uplift the situation of the peasant masses.
“Local peasant struggles nationwide are gaining ground. This is our response to the continuing land monopoly and absence of genuine agrarian reform and perpetuation of landlessness and poverty of farmers in countryside,” said Antonio Flores, secretary general of KMP.
“As far as the peasant masses are concerned, President Duterte has failed in addressing the most basic demands of farmers that were raised to his administration early on,” Flores added. “His pronouncements in support of neoliberal policies, the continuing militarization and human rights abuses against farmers are among the issues that we will raise in his upcoming SONA as we prepare to mobilize thousands more against Duterte.”
In Bicol, thousands of hectares of coco lands remain undistributed. Local chapter Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bikol (KMB) is leading the regional struggle to occupy abandoned lands, haciendas and landholdings under the control of big landlords in Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur,
Sorsogon and Masbate.
In Masbate alone, three hectares are allotted in every cow that tagged the province as “Cattle Country of the Philippines”. However, Charito David of Kilusang Magbubukid sa Masbate (KMM) lamented that 8 out of 10 Masbateño farmers do not have land for tilling.
“Despite enough budget from the government, farmers in the communities remain poor,” said David. “The local government even exploits the agricultural lands for large- scale mining.”
Filminera Mining Corporation continuously operates in Aroroy town and plans to expand its mining area to the municipalities in Baleno, Mandaon, Milagros and Mobo.
David added that they condemn the eco-tourism projects in Masbate. “These forced farmers to sell their agricultural lands in places like Deagan island, Brgy. Yangco, and in Cadulan.”
Just like the other provinces in Bicol, farmers in Masbate are most vulnerable in military harassment. Flores said they will remain vigilant against the militarism and fascism of President Rodrigo Duterte.
KMP’s activity in Legazpi City will continue until tomorrow and will culminate in a protest action on July 14. The national activity carried the theme “Onward to victory, expand and strengthen KMP. Intensify the struggle for genuine land reform and national industrialization.” (BaretangBikolnon.com)