Juliet de Lima
Chairperson NDFP RWC-SER
October 22, 2018
The NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms (RWC-SER) strongly condemns the massacre of nine peasants, including two minors, in Sagay City, Negros Occidental on the night of October 20.
The victims, who were members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), were having supper after working on their land cultivation area in the 75-hectare Hacienda Nene in Barangay Bulanon as part of efforts to stave off hunger during the “tiempo muerto” or dead season in the sugar industry. The peasants plant food crops to feed their families in idle lands that are already covered by, but remain undistributed under the government’s land reform program.
This massacre bring to 197 the total number of peasants killed under the Duterte regime in connection with agrarian struggles.
The murder of the Sagay 9 underscores the evils of the hacienda system and the failure of the GRP to effect social justice through genuine agrarian reform.
As long as a handful of landlords monopolize land ownership and perpetuate their power through force, the Sagay 9 will not be the last victims of agrarian-related violence. Agrarian unrest will persist as the peasant masses continue to suffer from widespread poverty, high indebtedness, severe hunger and malnutrition.
President Rodrigo Duterte and the militarists in his cabinet have blood on their hands for terminating the peace negotiations that would have resulted in the adoption of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER)’s section on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD).
The draft ARRD, which was scheduled for signing last November before Duterte abruptly cancelled the peace talks provides for the free distribution of big landholdings and landed estates including lands targeted by the government for distribution, haciendas that are under the control of private individuals or entities, disputed lands with local agrarian reform and peasant struggles and lands already occupied by farmers through various forms of land cultivation and collective farming activities.
The break-up of land monopolies and free land distribution are the just, necessary and urgent corrective measures to the centuries-old social injustices suffered by the peasantry. ###