“There are farmers being displaced or threatened in any province in the region. In Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Aurora and Pangasinan. Their farms are in danger of being converted, thus, this is a very serious matter not just for the region but for the whole country as this would gravely affect our food production, majorly rice,” Joseph Canlas, Chair of AMGL said in a press statement.
“We urge the peace panels, to tackle this issue as this is the root cause of the armed conflict, land, farmers being stripped off of their rights. It is very awkward that their talking about peace while farmers in the region are being kicked out of their farms,” Canlas added.
The group said that Hacienda Luisita farmworkers are still in danger of being displaced as the Cojuangco-Aquinos are clinging on their control and part of their plan to convert the remaining 4,900-hectares of agricultural lands into industrial, commercial and residential estates. Canlas said that this is the very plan of the Cojuangco-Aquinos of allowing the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) to pierce through Hacienda Luisita.
AMGL said that the massive landgrabbing and displacements of farmers in the region are related to the implementation of the “super-regions” program of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a part of the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) drafted since the Ramos administration, transforming the region into an “economic corridor.” In Central Luzon, this is further packaged as the Metro-Luzon Urban Beltway (MLUB).
The group added that the components of the MLUB, such as the SCTEx piercing Pampanga and Tarlac, SCTEx 3 from Tarlac to Nueva Ecija, Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx), Central Luzon Expressway Phase 1 and 2 (CLEx) from Tarlac to northern Nueva Ecija, Northern Luzon Expressway East (NLEx East), La Mesa Parkway are attracting landgrabbers and speculators targeting lands of small farmers.
AMGL said that this programs has resulted such as the displacement in the 3,100-hectare agricultural lands of Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) in Laur, Nueva Ecija, dispute in San Miguel, Bulacan where Rep. Luis Villafuerte is grabbing the 375-hectare productive agricultural lands in Sitio Malapad na Parang, and in Bgy. Tungkong Mangga, San Jose Del Monte city, the Pinedas displacing small farmers from the 200-hectare lands in Bgy. Prado Siongco, Lubao town, Pampanga, farmers are being displaced in Bgy. Tebag West in Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan, landgrabbing threats in local farms of Bayambang town in Pangasinan, in Bgy. Balangcinaway and adjacent barangays in Tarlac City, in Bgy. San Roque, La Paz town, also of Tarlac province. There are also dispute in local farms of Orion town, Bataan province.
“These are just few of the brewing agrarian dispute in the region. Thus, we suggest both panels to decide that farmers who are cultivating the lands in the region be recognized as protection against landgrabbing and other efforts to take lands from them,” said Canlas.
AMGL said that it is coordinating with its national organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the office of Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano to campaign against the massive landgrabbing and work towards the farmers’ recognition of their rights to land.
The group is also condemning the Aquino government for its Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program, which is promoting the said infrastructure projects.
“Noynoy Aquino just replaced Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the country’s top real estate salesman. Through his PPP program, he is prioritizing the interests of foreign and local business than the welfare of small, impoverished peasants. He is truly anti-peasant and a puppet of US imperialism,” Canlas said.
“We warn the Aquino government of heightened peasant unrest in the region if landgrabbing and displacements continue unabated. We have nothing to lose when our lands are stripped off from us. We would flood the streets of Manila to resolutely call for genuine land reform,” he said. #