displacement. Photo by AMGL
Farmers led by Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon - Nueva Ecija (Amgl-NE) and Alyansa ng Mamamayan Laban sa Central Luzon Expressway (Alma sa CLEx, People's Alliance Against CLEx), asserted their rights to land by putting up a large signage stating “CLEx, labanan, pigilan! Kontra-magsasaka, Maka-dayuhan!” (Oppose and terminate the anti-farmer and foreign-serving CLEx!) in Bibiclat, Aliaga. They were supported by Amgl (Farmers’ Alliance in Central Luzon), Anakpawis Partylist- Gitnang Luzon, Alyansa ng mga Magsasakang Nagkakaisa sa Fort Magsaysay (ALMANA 3,100), Timpuyog Katutubo, Malayang Aniban ng Magsasaka sa Brgy. Manggang Marikit, Bagong Barrio at Yuson (Mambayu of Guimba town) and farmers from southern towns of Nueva Ecija.
“We condemn the construction of CLEx as it is 'super' not for the farmers but for big local and foreign business, it is another case of land grabbing and displacement that affects farmers and residents of La Paz town in Tarlac, Zaragoza and Aliaga towns in Nueva Ecija, “ Joseph Canlas said, Amgl chairperson and Anakpawis Partylist - Central Luzon regional coordinator.
“Also, it would convert and lead to more land use conversion or LUC of prime and productive agricultural lands of the province, the country's rice-granary, as its main purpose is to attract foreign and local investors,” Canlas said.
The construction of CLEx is part of the Metro-Luzon Urban Beltway (MLUB) which is now being promoted by .Aquino government through its Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program from “super-regions” program of Arroyo government. The Aquino government plan is to convert productive agricultural lands into industrial estate, commercial land, subdivisions and expressways not only in Nueva Ecija but also in other provinces
Particular in Nueva Ecija, CLEx 1 would pierce from Tarlac City to Cabanatuan City, then CLEx 2 from Cabanatuan City to San Jose City. CLEx 1 and 2 are estimated to convert about 319.5-hectares of prime agricultural lands and homelots of Nueva Ecija farmers and residents.
“ Definitely, CLEx would serve the interest of landlords, foreign investors and land speculators. It would benefit the Australian mining firm Oceana Gold in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya; Aurora Pacific Economic Zones and Free Port (APECO) and Food Basket project of Angara, Benham Rise natural gas exploration, Dinggalan Free Port in Aurora province; eco-tourism and agro-industrial projects in Nueva Ecija; Clark International Airport, connecting expressways such as North Luzon East Expressway (NLEx East), Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx) and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) leading to Subic Free Port and other economic zones in the region,” Canlas said.
AMGL-Nueva Ecija and Alma sa CLEx said that the expressway would definitely cause dislocation and disenfranchisement of farmers from cultivating lands. Consequently it would lead more poverty and hunger among farmers in Nueva Ecija and nearby provinces.
"At present, affected farmers and residents have been preparing to a heightened struggle against the project, they are calling for support from other sectors as this project would surely affect the interests of different sectors. Even small businessmen are threatened of this project as big local and foreign capitalist would eventually monopolize the local economy of the province and region," Canlas said.
The groups also explained that they are not opposing "development" projects but are advocating genune land reform and nationalist industrialization.
"We should learn that these highways are not for 'development' as they only serve the interest of the big foreign and local investors, as experienced by the construction of SCTEx where its only motorists are the Cojuangco-Aquinos, big business transport and rich travellers. The SCTEx and TPLEx construction in Tarlac are now causing massive land grabbing and displacement of farmers, as the case of farmers in Brgy. Balingcanaway, where their lands are being grabbed by St. Tropez Holdings, owned by Pancake House boss Martin Lorenzo and Gabriel Singson, Jr. The farmers are accused of trumped up charges as harassment," Canlas said.
"In implementing genuine land reform and nationalist industrialization, transport networks are designed to serve the local population, linking raw materials to the national industry and not big local and foreign investors, thus, real development would serve the majority of the society," Canlas said.
The groups challenged the presidency of Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino not to neglect the Nueva Ecija farmers' plight.
"We dare Aquino to personally see for himself what his project is doing to the farmers. He attempts to differentiate himself from the corrupt former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but he is simply continuing her programs," Canlas said.
Amgl said that the Aquino government is transforming Nueva Ecija and Central Luzon to a region of concrete and asphalt, replacing food crops and other raw materials needed by the people and local industry.
"Aquino is trying to further destroy our food security and local industry. He is a total puppet of US imperialism by paving the way for heightened exploitation of the people and extraction of natural resources. Aquino is a total anti-farmer, anti-Filipino and pro-US," Canlas added. #