Sunday, 13 July 2014



(Or expecting new protests and alibis this post-CARPER episode 
of agrarian struggle in the Philippines)

The peasant issue remains controversial despite reforms which are mostly made to silence rather than cultivate social justice in a predominantly-agricultural country such as the Philippines. Protest marches such as Lakbayan had attested how farmers from every province had marched towards Metro Manila, stopping at the Department of Agrarian Reform and eventually towards Mendiola, burning effigies and chanting slogans against the regime whom had failed to realize the aspirations of the toiling masses, especially those of a centuries-old tension involving arable land and its right to till by by the still disenfranchised.

The government had time and again afford to provide papers and decrees "concerning" land reform and rural empowerment. Ranging from earlier documents such as the Land Reform Code, PD 27, CARP, up to its "extended and reformed" version, the creation of cooperatives like "Samahang Nayon", and Banks that supposedly supporting agrarian reform and rural development such as Landbank. But the peasant issue, regardless of those papers and institutions stated, remains bloody, messy, and one sided in favor of the landed gentry, supported by international moneylenders seeking properties especially in contested agricultural estates.

The present-day CARPER, in its expiration weeks ago, remains unfulfilled in its objective in distributing land to the landless, but instead intensifies peasant hatred towards the system that rather benefits the ruling gentries, turning arable land into residential and commercial complexes, disregarding productivity in favor of just importing rice from Vietnam, Thailand, and possibly, China.

Speaking of productivity, the late president Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino had cited that term "Productivity" as its cause to accept pleas for land reform, but instead of seriously heeding to the pleas of the peasants and farmworkers marching towards the gates of the presidential palace comes bloody actions at Mendiola.
That action taken last 1987, ironically speaking, was also done before the passage of that "reform" bill that aggravates age-old tensions whilst parroting progressive rhetoric. The succeding action, which was taken against the same class at Hacienda Luisita last 2009 by the same Cojuangco-Aquino clique, as well supported by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was made also prior to the passage of the bill that was "extended and reformed", and this time, expired yet left unfulfilled in its objectives like land redistribition and social justice.

But, other than the contested Hacienda Luisita, other estates such as Looc, Hacienda Dolores, as well as lands being grabbed for development like in Aurora under APECO, and government properties like Camp Gregg and Fort Magsaysay, landlords and bureaucrats had used CARPER as its clause, even excempting them from land reform as they're being turned into agro-tourism, residential, and commercial complexes that threatens communities in those contested lands. The said procedure reminds of earlier decrees limiting land reform to those of rice and corn, while sugarcane, banana, cassava, and other cash crops are left under control of the profit-driven, land-grabbing, landed gentry.

Well, despite series of rhetorics and propaganda given, are the awards, certificates, patents carried by the tilling peasants in the name of CARP or its earlier land reform decrees all but worthless as landlords and its armed thugs started to grab those lands? Circumventing laws as necessary using development as its clause? Just like the stocks offered by Hacienda Luisita to its 9.50 paid farmworkers and peasants, the actions taken by the landlord-dominated system through its "land reform" is all but "reaction", a "band aid" solution to a growing hatred still brewing. They would attempt to extend it through HB 2946, but those efforts rather aggravate tensions citing the fact that landlords benefited on that 'populist' attempt.
Lately, the system, via its Agriculture Department has complained about rising costs of garlic, rice, and other foodstuffs; yet they had allegedly even burn smuggled garlic rather than directly distributing to the people in a reasonable price, but did they seriously impose agrarian reform through its extended and reformed CARP to resolve crisis and increase productivity of foodstuffs needed like garlic in order to keep prices affordable? Nope. But instead, they chose to offer contested land to international profiteers 100%, and time and again calling exploitation of the tillers as development, and intensified further by bloody reprisals brought by armed thugs by using civilian-military operations like Oplan Bayanihan, targeting those whom opposed vested interests.

The march towards Mendiola has been finished but it leaves an open ended conclusion especially after CARPER's expiration. The courts may insist distributing contested land to the people, but the present system will still continues to treat the issue as "just resolved" through rhetorics and paper reforms in its post-CARPER episode. 
But despite their so-called actions, sorry to say, that the peasants from Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Aurora, and other provinces had enough of their sugarcoated statements and bloody actions taken by those armed thugs. They are willing to sacrifice their lives as well, knowing that the present system and its thugs is willing to load up their guns and pointing directly towards them, just like what happened at Mendiola and Hacienda Luisita.

For Land Reform from the landlords is all but sham and mockery of what peasants, social justice advocates, and revolutionaries in the countryside phad been clamored for. The bills being stated above, from the late President Macapagal to the present Aquino regime attests the fact that these had end failed.