“This is very mind-boggling that this would come from Arroyo, the self-proclaimed president who cheated, killed activists and plagued the government with graft and corruption,” said Joseph Canlas, AMGL Chairperson.
Canlas said that Arroyo and Aquino are implementing the same program and policies that deny the farmers and other sectors of their economic rights. AMGL added that Aquino and Arroyo were allies during the investigation of the “Hello Garci” tapes at the House of Representatives, the height of the farmers struggle in Hacienda Luisita and the construction of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx).
“Arroyo should keep her mouth shut when her government had done nothing to uplift the farmers’ lives. During her term, there were no implementation of genuine land reform and poor farmers remained landless, including the farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita,” Canlas said.
“Arroyo preserved the monopoly control of landlords like her in the region, including the Cojuangco-Aquinos. As early as October 2003, farmworkers have been petitioning to junk the Stock Distribution Option (SDO), opposing the creeping land use conversion in the hacienda but the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) have only sat on the case, essentially serving the interests of the Cojuangco-Aquinos,” he added.
AMGL said that it was only because of the resilient struggle of the farmworkers and the support of different sectors that PARC was pressured to decide the junking of the SDO on December 2005.
In addition, Arroyo continued the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and extending it on August 7, 2009, making it CARP Extension with “Reforms” or CARPer. This was though the program was obviously bankrupt and a failure to break up the monopoly control of landlords and in distributing lands to poor farmers. As result, the Cojuangco-formed Luisita Estate Management (LEM) attempted to disrupt the farmworkers’ ‘bungkalan’ (cultivation) campaign inside the hacienda and deceived them into favoring the SDO.
AMGL said that Aquino is now implementing the Central Luzon Regional Development Plan (CLRDP) that is essentially the same with Arroyo’s “super regions” program. This included the construction of the Metro-Luzon Urban Beltway (MLUB) that is composed of the SCTEx, Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx), Central Luzon Expressway (CLEx) and North Luzon East Expressway (NLEx East). The regional program also involved the “W-Growth Corridor” that plans to convert lands in the region into economic processing zones. The corridor is consist of 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.
The group said that Aquino is also promoting Arroyo’s energy program that involves the construction of mega-dams in the region. In addition to the Pantabangan dam in Nueva Ecija and San Roque dam in Pangasinan, Aquino is pushing for the construction of the Balog-balog dam in San Jose, Tarlac and Balintingon dam in General Tinio, Nueva Ecija. The projects are promoted through Aquino’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program.
The group said that TPLEx is now resulting the displacement of farmers in Brgy. San Pascual, Batang batang, Villa Bacolor, Balingcanaway in Tarlac City and Brgy. Lalapac, Victoria town. In addition, the construction of CLEx interchange in Aliaga, Nueva Ecija is now ejecting farmers out of their land.
“As these so-called ‘development’ projects obviously trample the rights of poor farmers, Aquino has implemented the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan to repress the farmers’ struggle,” Canlas said.
AMGL said Oplan Bayanihan is no different to Arroyo’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) that encouraged the reign of impunity and particularly implemented by retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan. The group said that OBL resulted the extra-judicial killings (EJK ) of 108 farmer members of AMGL, Anakpawis and Bayan Muna and their supporters.
AMGL said that reduction of poverty without the implementation of genuine land reform and nationalist industrialization is a fantasy and total propaganda. Through land reform, poor farmers would be emancipated from feudal rent and the value of their retained product would become a source of capital to be reinvested in agricultural production. On the other hand, the promotion of nationalist industrialization would support the technological requirement of agriculture, thus, breaking our economy away from the exploitation of foreign transnational corporations (TNCs).
“Arroyo and Aquino have the same school of economic thought, the illusion of ‘free market,’ liberalization, privatization and deregulation, that systematically wipe out the country’s capacity for self-reliance and productivity,” Canlas said.
“GDP growth does not reflect the gap between rich and poor, and the reality is the rich are becoming richer, the poor poorer, thus, Arroyo should shut up and perish in prison,” Canlas said. #