By Reynard Magtoto
“To all Bicolanos, let’s unite to counter the tyranny and fascism of the US-Duterte regime,”Bert Autor of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bicol (KMB) strongly demands as its sector gears up for Independence Day Protest tomorrow, June 12.
Peasant group in the region held protest action on June 8 to condemn the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). However, they will continue to march on the streets to attain ‘real’ freedom, justice and democracy for the people.
“The implementation of CARP has not resulted in the land ownership of the peasants because they remain tenants and farm workers increases. Land monopoly still exists owned by landlords and foreign and large local corporations even seize the lands of our farmers,” Autor said.
According to Autor, land reform is no longer the priority of the Duterte administration. Landlessness of Bicolano farmers are further aggravated by widespread land use conversion under the “Build, Build, Build”of the present administration.
Under the Build, Build, Build program, over 1,000 hectares of prime agricultural lands will covered in the plan to build airports in Daraga municipality in Albay; Pili, and San Jose in Camarines Sur.
There is also the plan for the Philippine National Railway Reconstruction which will affect the provinces of Camarines Sur, Albay and Sorsogon having 241 barangays in 25 towns and 5 cities.
The government also goals for “Boulevard Region” where most coastal areas will build boulevards to facilitate eco-tourism. This project is underway in Albay, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon and Catanduanes.
Thousands of peasants, fisherfolk and urban-poor are affected. Landlessness, dislocation and severe poverty are the consequences,” Autor said. “As a result, the economic crisis has escalated among farmers because of the neoliberal policies imposed by the US-Duterte regime.”
KMB also condemns the Train Law which increasingly pushing the rise of prices of basic commodities such as rice, utilities, services, agricultural inputs and petroleum or oil prices.
They also challenge the government leaders to take what National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) stated that a monthly income of up to 10,000 pesos per month for the cost of a family is enough and P127 per day is sufficient for a family with 5 members.
Farmers in the country are rarely being paid and are still in debt for the day to day basic needs, with additional burden of the high tax rate that further increases the poverty of the people.
With current situation of the economy and programs of the government, KMB believes that peasants are not exercising their freedom in the agricultural lands of the country.
“Lalo lamang tumitindi ang kakulangan at kawalan ng lupa ng mga magsasakang Bikolano,” Autor concluded. (BaretangBikolnon.com)