AUGUST 5, 2011 NEWS RELEASE 30-K farmers from Southern Tagalog signed petition calling for passage of new agrarian law MANILA, Philippines- Ten thousand (10,000) farmers from different provinces of Southern Tagalog signed a Peasant Manifesto urging both chambers of Congress to repeal Republic Act 9700 or the…
Peasant group calls for ZERO-budget for sham CARPER, slams DAR budget as “milking cow” of landlords The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) during the hearing today of the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) P17.92 billion proposed budget for next year assailed the budget as a “milking…
The online version of the Philippines’ leading business newspaper features virtually all the stories and statistical data available in the print edition.
What hides behind the opaque language and convoluted logic of the Supreme Court decision is the final scrapping of even the most limited land reform in the Philippines.
No one has heard the weep except eternity
whose loneliness is the color of my people.
They, breathless between the sun’s gaze
and the anguish of their ploughs.
This land is a wound,
the bastard son of visitors
and speculators and storytellers
whose story is sung for hundreds
of years in…
Oxfam’s new report: Growing a Better Future describes a new age of growing crisis: food price spikes and oil price hikes, devastating weather events, financial meltdowns, and global contagion. Behind each of these, slow-burn crises smoulder: creeping and insidious climate change, growing inequality, chronic hunger and vulnerability, the erosion of our natural resources.
Based on the experience and research of Oxfam staff and partners around the world and, Growing a Better Future shows how the food system is at once a driver of this fragility and highly vulnerable to it, and why in the twenty-first century it leaves 925 million people hungry.
The report presents new research forecasting price rises for staple grains in the range of 120–180 per cent within the next two decades, as resource pressures mount and climate change takes hold.
Growing a Better Future supports a new campaign with a simple message: another future is possible, and we can build it together.
At least the Aquino administration seems to see the importance of investing in agriculture. I just hope that while they are at it, they would do more in agrarian reform, particularly in land distribution and credit programs for small farmers.
Farmers hold their ownership certificates as the 148-hectare Arroyo-owned Hacienda Bacan in Isabela, Negros Occidental was awarded to them under CARP on June 28, 2011. (TFM Photo by Jimmy Domingo)
Finally, the farmers from Negros are given their land!
Here’s some backgrounder from The Philippine Star:
MANILA, Philippines - A farmers’ rights group today announced that the 148.22-hectare Hacienda Bacan of the Arroyos in Negros Occidental has been officially distributed to its farmer beneficiaries.
Task Force Mapalad (TFM) said in a text message that the hacienda, owned by the family of former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, was turned over to 68 farmer claimants during an installation ceremony.
The turn over came after an 11-year campaign of the farmers, the TFM said.
In October 2010, the local registry of deeds in Negros Occidental cancelled the title of the hacienda and registered in the name of the “Republic of the Philippines,” practically turning over the sugar plantation from the Arroyos to the farmer claimants.
Members of the Arroyo family have accused President Benigno Aquino III of having a hand in the turnover of the hacienda to the farmers.
The TFM denied the allegation, saying that the turnover of the sugar plantation of the issuance of certificates of land ownership to the 68 farmers is in proper accord with the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.
The photographer who covered the installation of the farmers above was among those who also covered the Sumilao March in 2007. Jimmy Domingo joined us in Tacloban City and walked with us across the San Juanico Bridge into Samar. He stayed for a couple more days before leaving for Manila. He later joined the campaign again when the Sumilao farmers reached Manila.
The Supreme Court has revoked the 1989 Stock Distribution Plan (SDP) deal in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac and ordered the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to hold a new referendum in the sugar estate owned by the Cojuangco-Aquino family.
In a press conference, SC spokesman and Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said 10 justices actually decided to rule on permanently lifting a 2006 temporary restraining order versus the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), which had ordered the distribution of 4,915.75 hectares to 6,296 farmer-beneficiaries.
PARC initially allowed the SDP, but later reversed the decision during the time of the former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2005. It was this decision that was questioned by the managers of the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) before the SC.
Of the 10 magistrates, a majority of 6 voted for the referendum. Justice Secretary Presbitero Velasco Jr. wrote the decision.
The others are: Associate Justices Roberto Abad, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Teresita Leonardo de Castro, and Jose Perez.
A minority of 4, on the other hand, said that since the SDP has been revoked, “therefore, it is compulsary under the land reform to distribute the lands.” Associate Justice Arturo Brion wrote the opinion of this group.
The other 3 are: Associate Justices Jose Mendoza, Maria Lourdes Sereno, and Martin Villarama.
Only Chief Justice Renato Corona dissented, since he believes a provision in Republic Act 6557 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law is unconstitutional. He is referring to Section 31 of the law, which allows corporate owners to have a stock distribution option (SDO). Corona believes that land reform is about distributing lands.
Marquez said the stock plan was revoked because of “HLI’s failure to comply with their obligations to farmers.”
The high court also ordered the DAR to immediately schedule a meeting with all 6,296 farmer-beneficiaries, where the effects and consequences of their decisions will be explained.
DAR is required to report its compliance 6 months after the finality of the SC decision. It should also provide quarterly compliance reports, Marquez added.
The HLI can file a motion for reconsideration within 15 days after receiving a copy of the ruling.
With all due respect to the Supreme Court, I must say that the ruling is ambiguous. While it upheld the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council’s recommendation of scrapping the stock distribution option under the old Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 or Republic Act 6657, it requires the Department of Agrarian Reform to conduct a referendum where the farmers will decide if they would opt for stocks in the hacienda’s corporation or land. Isn’t that the same as condoning the option which has just been revoked?
As far as I know, Republic Act 9700 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Extensions and Reform (CARPER) Law, has permanently erased the stock distribution option from the agrarian reform program.
I think a lot of people in this country seem to be confused about the concept of agrarian reform, particularly land distribution - it is not about stocks or certificates making the farmer part owner of a corporation, it is about the farmer owning the land that he and his family had tilled for years!
The Philippines has had a long history with farmers fighting for their land. It was agrarian unrest which fueled several revolts in the Spanish colonial period. It was the discontent of peasants which caused the Sakdal uprising during the American period. And it was oppressed farmers who later joined the Huk and the New People’s Army in the fight against the landed socio-political elite.
Until the government in this country gives land to the landless, we will always see farmers, first peacefully protesting against exploitation and oppression; but eventually taking to the hills with arms when the government answers their grievances with repression and society is lulled in apathy.