Secure our land, secure our food
We express our indignation on the increasing and unprecedented repression of rural and urban communities, human rights defenders and worsening threats on their right to land, food, and resources. Landlessness sprout among Filipino farmers, indigenous people, rural women and youth, and other marginalized rural and urban sectors that greatly suffers under the authoritarian regime. Infrastructure projects and agricultural “development” programs are used by the government to convince people within the parameters of short-sighted projects funded through foreign debt and investments which are the majority is from China. As results, massive displacement on rural and urban peoples from their lands, home, livelihoods, and cultures persist– all in the name of Golden Era of Philippine Infrastructure.
Through a partnership with multilateral financial institutions such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank as well as regional trade and investment agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), land grabbing in the Philippines intensify. Last October 2018, we conducted a National land Grabbing conference and we found out that big parcel of land is subjected to land-use conversion which will affect the annual production of rice in the country. In Central Luzon alone, 36,000 hectares of agricultural land is converted into a full-blown metropolis that will cater the lust of New Clark City, Crow Valley Military Complex, SEA Games Dome and among others. While in Mindanao, 500,000 hectares are subjected for mining, 700,000 hectares for rubber and oil palm plantation, 500,000 pineapple plantation and the remaining 12% is for agricultural use. Mostly are in CARAGA where the biggest reserves of copper, gold, aluminum, and iron are found. 51 mining tenements under Lepanto, Philex and Tampakan mines operate in the region while ARMM is subject for rubber and oil palm expansion. In Palawan, almost 7,000 trees were cut down by Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC) and destroyed the natural watershed, biodiversity, and wildlife just to pursue its interest to operate mining on areas of Indigenous People. While in Negros, approximately thousand hectares of land is confiscated from landholders (mostly are farmers) by Tsuneishi Shipyard Company with aid from the Provincial Government.
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Administrative Order No. 1 series of 2019 issued by current DAR secretary John Castriciones that unprecedentedly fast-track the conversion of agricultural lands to non-agricultural uses will greatly imperil the poor state of farmers, landlessness and national food insecurity. With the issuance of said AO, the State itself is the one offering its resources to land grabbers instead of giving it free to poor Filipino farmers who are feeding the economic backbone. And with the persistence of Train Law and Rice Tariffication Law, in a couple of years, the Philippine society will be a wasteland wherein death, hunger, disease, and poverty prevailed.
If the government wants to end nor lessen hunger and poverty, it must support “bungkalan” or land cultivation for it is the actualization of farming using appropriate technology and sustainable agriculture which is embedded on the bill (GARB and RIDA) being a push in Congress by progressive lawmakers.
Therefore, allow ourselves to work hand –in- hand for a just and humane society. Let’s strengthen our ranks to expose and oppose the irony and deception of the current government. We mark this “Day of the Landless” to let the society and the world recognize our legitimate demands for land to the tiller and genuine agrarian reform; for food security and sovereignty, and for people’s rights and democracy.
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