BACOLOD CITY — Lakbay ng Taumbayan marchers representing farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, labor, urban poor, women, youth, LGBTQ, and PWD gathered at Bacolod City on April 29, 2019 and highlighted issues on agrarian reform in the region.
Lakbay ng Taumbayan stresses that solving the country’s agricultural problems entails first and foremost allowing farmers to own the land they till. This would ensure stability and diversity in food production as well as secure livelihoods for the farmers. They call for a proper implementation of CARP instead of a Federal Charter which threatens to open arable land to 100% foreign ownership.
The group says land tenure program of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has terribly failed farmers as the agency has largely sided with landlords. Due to the concentration of power in the hands of landed elites in the region and their subsequent manipulation of land titles, huge backlogs and slow processing remain so that lands won’t be covered by CARP. There is also a huge lack in support services for Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARB) such as modern technological advancement for farmland development. DAR data shows that 60% to 80% of land distributed to small family farmers under CARP are back in the hands of the landed elites.
“Nakompromiso ang kaunlaran ng agricultural sector ng udyok ng gobyerno at mga panginoong may-lupa para sa mataas na kita kaysa sa kapakanan ng mga tao. Dahil sa mahina na suporta mula sa gobyerno, naging bulnerable ang ating mga sakahan sa kompetisyon ng malalaking dayuhang korporasyon.” said Lakbay ng Taumbayan marcher, Reggie Galaritta.
(“Government and landlords’ impulse to yield high profit over people’s wellbeing compromised the development of the agricultural sector. Poor government support has made our farmlands vulnerable to big foreign business competitions.)
The group says hacienda work is largely seasonal so farm workers usually have to look for another job for 4 to 6 months until the next season. Insecurity of employment makes it difficult to accumulate savings to ensure a prosperous life for farming families. On top of that, majority of hacienda owners don’t abide by minimum wage laws.
Reggie Galaritta further stated, “Ang mga panginoong may-lupa na mismong may posisyon sa lokal na gobyerno ang nagdidikta na seasonal mono-cropping ang gamitin na nakakasira ng sustansya ng lupa. Dahil ang mga panginoong may lupa ang nag mamay-ari ng lupa, wala kaming [mga magsasaka] boses sa kung anong mangyayari sa sektor ng agrikultura na kami naman mismo ang bumubuhay. Dapit unahin ang mga isyu ng mga batayang sektor tulad nito imbis na Cha-Cha na magpapalala naman ng sitwasyon naming magsasaka.”
(“Landlords who themselves have positions in local government command seasonal mono-cropping that robs fertile land of nutrients. Because landed elites own the land, we farmers have no voice in what will happen to the agricultural sector which we work give life to. We need to prioritize basic sector issues such as these instead of pushing for Cha-Cha which will only worsen farmers’ situation.”)
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Lakbay ng Taumbayan is an 18-Day March-Caravan Campaign from Marawi to Manila (April 23-May 10) and Baguio to Manila (May 6-May 10) promoting the agenda of marginalized sectors–workers, farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, women, urban poor, youth, PWDs and LGBT–as an alternative to the administration’s agenda of federalism.
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