“Aquino has nothing to talk about land reform as he ignored the plight of Filipino farmers, particularly in Central Luzon and Hacienda Luisita. We expect nought or farcical lies of his achievement on land reform,” said Joseph Canlas, Amgl chairperson.
Amgl is referring at Aquino’s inexistent land reform agenda and disregard of the systematic problems Filipino farmers are presently confronted with. The group also lambasted his promotion of the Republic Act 9700 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with “Reforms” (CARPer), Public-Private Partnership Program (PPP) which they called as “anti-farmer” and “anti-people.” The group claimed that Aquino has simply continued former president and present congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s development program in the region such as the “W-corridor,” including the Metro-Luzon Urban Beltway (Mlub).
“The very strong illustration of Aquino’s abandonment of the farmers is the Hacienda Luisita issue. He is unable to uphold the interest of the poor farmworkers against the interest of his family Cojuangco-Aquinos. The whole country knows that their family defrauded the public to acquire the 6,453-hectare hacienda and now they are desperately repressing the farmworkers’ struggle to cultivate the land,” Canlas said.
The group is holding Aquino responsible for the legal crisis the Supreme Court is now facing as he ignored his duty to pursue the resolution of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) revoking the stock distribution option (SDO) in Hacienda Luisita and he did nothing to convince the Cojuangco-Aquinos to withdraw the petition for the Temporary Restraining Order against the resolution. Many sectors such as the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA) and Catholic Educators Association of the Philippines (CEAP) are supportive of the farmworkers and now calling for the junking of the SDO and the SC decision of referendum.
“CARPer is displacing farmers away from their land in the region. It is paving the way for big landlords, real estate developers and foreign corporations to control productive agricultural land more rapidly than its precursor CARP. It has strengthened the rights of the landlords and not of the farmers,” he added.
Amgl cited the case of Nueva Ecija province, where the bulk of the farmer-beneficiaries of CARP is located, composing 41% of the lands or 169,375-hectares the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) claims to be distributed on its 2010 accomplishment report. But farmers are facing massive displacement as landowners and real estate developers are intensifying their claim on lands in anticipation of infrastructure projects promoted by the Aquino government.
The group said that Aquino is adopting the “W-corridor” development program in light of inviting foreign and local investment in the region. It is pinpointed by eco-zones and industrial hubs in the region namely, Masinloc Eco Zone (Zambales), Subic Bay Special Economic Zone and Freeport (Zambales), Bataan Technology Park in Morong, Bataan Export Processing Zone in Mariveles, Clark Special Eco Zone, Hacienda Luisita Eco Zone, Hermosa (Bataan) Eco Zone, Magalang (Pampanga) MADCI, Philippine Jewelry Center in Meycauayan, Bulacan, Gapan, Cabanatuan City and Science City of Muñoz in Nueva Ecija, then towards Baler and Dingalan freeport in Aurora.
“Aquino’s regional development program is not even original as it was implemented by the hated Arroyo government. Now Aquino who claims he is for reform has simply carried on her agenda and this worsens displacement of farmers,” Canlas said.
“Aquino’s PPP has caused problems to farmers, such as his promotion of the Central Luzon Expressway (Clex), Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (Tplex) and its tributary roads. Farmers from Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and other provinces are being victimized by widespread landgrabbing,” Canlas said.
The Aquino government has particularly promoted and offered the construction of the Clex 1 and 2, North Luzon East Expressway (Nlex East) to foreign investors at the website of the Dept. of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The group estimated that Tplex, Nlex East and Clex would convert about 1,222-hectares of productive agricultural lands of the region, thus, displacing farmers and robbing them of their source of livelihood.
In addition, Amgl said that land grabbing and displacement worsened during the first year of Aquino. The group is citing cases: near the interchange of Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (Sctex) and Sta. Rosa-Tarlac national road in Tarlac City and La Paz town; the 13,000-hectares covered by the Republic Act 10083 or Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Act of 2010 (Apeco) in Casiguran and 312-hectare Food Basket program in Maria Aurora, Aurora province; the 386.8-hectares involving 12 barangays in Bayambang town, Pangasinan claimed by the Cojuangco-owned Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) Realty Corp.; land grabbing of military officials and displacement of farmers within the 3,100-hectares in Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Laur, Nueva Ecija; the 57,930-hectare watershed program of Lopez-controlled Energy Development Corp. (EDC) and California Energy (CalEn) that displaces indigenous peoples’ communities in Pantabangan and Carranglan towns, Nueva Ecija; displacement in many areas in Bataan; massive cancellation of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA), Certificate of Land Transfer (CLT) and Emancipation Patents (EP) in many towns of Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Tarlac and Pangasinan; land grabbing of Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte of the 300-hectares in San Miguel, Bulacan and displacement of farmers cultivating 84-hectares formerly part of Hacienda Davis in Guimba, Nueva Ecija.
“Aquino is a traditional landlord president, no different from past administrations who neglected the Filipino farmers and hindered genuine land reform. As it is clear that he has failed the farmers of the region, as well as the country’s, we are en route for calling his ouster or resignation,” Canlas said. #