Statement | 28 October 2018
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines-North Eastern Mindanao Region (NDFP-NEMR) and all the revolutionary forces wholeheartedly join the peasantry and Lumad this October in observance of the Peasant and Lumad Month. Let us give them the highest tribute in their continuing struggle for genuine land reform, right to self-determination and their determination to provide food for the Filipino people.
Farmers are society’s backbone and among the true creators of history but they suffer from grave poverty. Instead of the US-Duterte regime supporting them to develop their farming capabilities and accelerate production, they are further driven towards severe deprivation brought about by the implementation of anti-people laws and policies.
First, laws such as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) are not solving the land problems of farmers because it retains vast tracks of land under the control of landlords. Here in Caraga, the big landlords are the families of Sanchez, Fernandez, Ong-o, Gonzaga, Plaza, Uy, Tolentino, Garcia, Llamas, Ty, Luna, Cagampang, Tiongco, Lozada, Atega, Kingkiang, Garay, Calo, Asis and others. Land rent remains high, in rice fields rent for a hectare of land remains at 15-24 sacks. In coconut plantations, 50-50 and 60-40 rent favoring land lords continue, with tenants shouldering all expenditures.
Farmers are victims of exploitation by businessmen, usurers and other exploitative classes through unrelenting price increases of farm inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides; high usury rates reaching 20%-200% for every harvest; rent increases of farm equipment; low wages; and low buying prices of products such as copra which is currently at P16.00 a kilo. Amidst all these, the government has not given significant support or assistance to farmers.
Second, the policy of land conversion to foreign mining and plantations, is forcibly driving away thousands of farmers and Lumad from their lands which are then seized. In Caraga, not less than 200,000 hectares have been converted into plantations. Meanwhile, more than 600,000 hectares of land are covered by either operating mines or approved mining operations. The AFP/PNP, LGU and several exploitative Lumad leaders are being used to grab land.
Because of this, wide areas of rice fields, rivers and coasts in Caraga have been destroyed and can no longer be used for livelihood by farmers and fisher folks. Mine tailings and poisonous chemicals mostly come from imperialist mines such as SRMI, TMC, PGMC, MMDC, Green Stone, Manila Mining, Agata Mining and many others.
Third, the uncontrolled importation of agricultural products such as rice, spices and others has resulted to the decline of local products of farmers. Many farmers lost their livelihood. This paved the way for the monopoly of agricultural products by foreigners and local capitalists in the country.
Fourth, the US-Duterte regime are conning and deceiving the farmers into planting commercial products through the National Greening Program (NGP) of the DENR and the Upland Sustainable Agriculture Development (USAD) of the Department of Agriculture (DA). It is promoting the planting of falcatta, oil palm, cacao and rubber to replace the direct food products they have been producing, such as corn and rice.
Fifth, farmers, already suffering grave poverty, are being victimized by the brutality of fascist forces of the AFP/PNP through martial law and all-out war under Oplan Kapayapaan. Here in NEMR thousands of families are being forced to evacuate regularly, they are threatened, their livelihood destroyed and abandoned because of the indiscriminate bombings using canons and air assets, near communities and farms. There have been 20 victims of extra judicial killings, more than a hundred have been arrested and charged with trumped-up cases, hundreds have been forced to surrender, threatened, harassed and suffer other brutalities under the US-Duterte regime. Militarization of the countryside is meant to safeguard the economic interests of the ruling classes.
All these prove that the US-Duterte regime is anti-people and pro-imperialist. It has set aside the interests of the country’s farmers to protect the interests of its masters, the monopoly capitalists, big bourgeoisie compradors and land lords.
The only solution to attain genuine land reform and national industrialization is the Democratic People’s Revolution. Through this the people will be liberated from foreign domination and can achieve true development and equality.
On this Month of Peasants and Lumad, let us strive to further intensify and strengthen the unity of the peasantry and Lumad to fight and take to task the US-Duterte regime.
Long live the struggle of the farmers and Lumad!
Ka Maria Malaya