On Duterte’s May 1 call to occupy oligarchs’ lands

Communist Party of the Philippines
May 2, 2017

GRP President Duterte’s May One speech yesterday urging the people to occupy oligarchs’ lands can be seen as a welcome endorsement of the mass actions of peasants and farm workers demanding genuine land reform. He must, however, be more explicit and forthcoming. The people demand that, beyond mere rhetoric, the GRP president must back up with concrete action his denunciation of the oligarchy.

Without concrete action, Duterte’s May One speech, with its careful use of words and qualifiers, may actually be a less than profound statement merely made to sound grand and important. GRP President Duterte must match his words with actual deeds and put his weight behind the struggle of peasants and farm workers to occupy their lands in Hacienda Luisita and Lapanday which the oligarch Cojuangcos and Lorenzos insist on controlling, and other such land holdings illegally occupied by big landlords and compradors in various parts of the country.

Just more than a week ago, peasants and farm workers carried out mass actions both in the Cojuangcos’ Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province and in the Lorenzos’ Lapanday plantation in Tagum City, Davao Oriental. Both were frustrated by the armed and other counter-actions which prevented the claimants from actually occupying their own lands. The masses of peasants and farm workers were disillusioned by the lackluster support of the Duterte regime, despite orders of the Department of Agrarian Reform and its secretary, peasant leader Ka Paeng Mariano. In the case of Lapanday, the local police force was even used by the Lorenzos to prevent the installation of farm workers on their land.

The Filipino people challenge Duterte to name the names of those oligarchs he accuses of holding public lands without paying taxes in billion of pesos. He must also identify the said public lands which he claims to be illegally occupied by these oligarchs.

The GRP president must further realize that the demand for genuine land reform is not limited to public lands. Land reform is a question of emancipating millions of peasants from the yoke of land monopolies by big haciendas and plantations devoted to export crops such as bananas and pineapples. Most of these lands are not public lands but feudal holdings and vast tracts of agricultural land forcibly taken from the peasant masses.

The Party calls on the peasant masses to intensify their struggles to demand the breakup of Hacienda Luisita and all other feudal haciendas as well as the cancellation of all so-called agribusiness venture agreements which have prevented peasants from controlling their land.

Meanwhile, the New People’s Army (NPA) together with Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid (PKM) and other revolutionary mass organizations will continue to carry out land reform struggles in vast areas in the countryside. They will continue to wage agrarian revolution with the aim of overthrowing the power of the big landlord class and further broaden the foothold of the emergent people’s democratic government.

A few days ago, units of the New People’s Army (NPA) struck at three facilities of Lapanday as a punitive act for its refusal to hand over control of close to 150 hectares of land owned by 159 beneficiaries of agrarian reform. The NPA will continue to carry out similar actions in the future in support of the peasant struggles across the country.