NDFP-Far South Mindanao Region
The peasant masses in the Makilala localities hail the latest punitive action of the New People’s Army – Front 72 against the notorious Baclid brothers by disarming their armed goons guarding a disputed land in Lacobe on Saturday, 23 February. The recent victory inspires the masses to persevere in their revolutionary fervour and collective strength to fight for their right to repossess the land grabbed from them.
The offensive was carried out by the NPA to punish the Baclid brothers who led and organized the paramilitary group backed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and big landlord-politician-warlords to ensure their landgrabbing pursuits.
Tux and Teding Baclid are members of the paramilitary Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) detailed under the 38th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, and are legitimate military targets of the NPA.
Nine years ago, the Baclid group, armed by then North Cotabato governor Manny Piñol and the 38th Infantry Battalion, took root by forcibly ejecting 60 peasant families in Lacobe and seized about 178 hectares of productive farmlots largely planted with rubber trees. At that time, the 602nd Brigade, Philippine Army, was conducting an intensive combat and Re-engineered Special Operations Team operations in the Makilala area to secure the rapidly expanding Dolefil-Stanfilco plantations. Paramilitary Citizens Armed Auxiliaries (CAA) detachments were promptly installed in strategic barangays (villages) surrounding the Dolefil-Stanfilco estates that include the Lacobe.
Recently, the Baclid group annexed an additional 600 hectares to their claim which covers areas of adjacent barangays Bato and Villa Flores, also in Makilala town. This encompasses parcels of land already occupied and cultivated by farmers in the locality.
The beneficiaries filed a complaint at the Department of Agrarian Reform’s Adjudication Board (DARAB) but later it was rejected on a baseless and absurd reason that it was “a non-agrarian issue because no tenancy relation is involved”.
Since 2004, the peasant-beneficiaries have insistently appealed for the local government’s intervention to settle the land conflict, but their pleas fall on deaf ears. Instead, on 31 January this year, the DAR convoked a Kanduli (a sacred Muslim tradition for fostering peace and reconciliation) co-sponsored by the local government and was attended by Sec. Virgilio delos Reyes. According to the Kanduli organizers, it “signifies goodwill and reconciliation” of the conflicting parties and “put an end to the long-running Moro-Christian resentment in the area”.
But on the contrary, DAR’s Kanduli marks the finishing point of the legal prerequisites for the awarding of the Certificate of Land Ownership Ownership Award to the detriment of the genuine beneficiaries whom the DAR compelled to sign the purported “final peace covenant”. Surely, they made a lucid perversion of the Kanduli to gratify the land grabbers and monopolizers and vaunt the haciendero president Noynoy’s pompous “matuwid na daan” (righteous path) and AFP’s “peace and development program” under Oplan Bayanihan.
The DAR, the AFP, and the local government turn a blind eye to the conflict caused by Baclid’s land grabbing via falsely insinuating their so-called “Moro-Christian resentment”. They further aggravate this insinuation by fallaciously reproving that the NPA’s attack was carried out against a “Moro National Liberation Front community”.
Baclid and the AFP claimed it was instigated by their huggermuggering “Christian adversaries”. This is a deliberate state conspiracy to mislead the people on the landgrabbing issue and create antagonisms and divisions among the poor Moro, Christian and Lumad peasants.
Big landlord-politician-warlords and the multinational agribusiness Dolefil-Stanfilco get behind DAR’s fervent sponsorship in legalizing Baclid’s illicitly acquired lands. DAR’s approval of Baclid’s application and the issuance of the land titles were fast-tracked to comply with the processing of the land contract between Dolefil-Stanfilco and Baclid’s group. The DAR in its part is hastening the processes for its contrived and spurious distribution of land to comply with Malacanang’s quota, an “achievement” Noynoy would most likely brag in his fourth State of the Nationa Address on July.
The Lacobe case proves once more that the government’s agrarian reform program (CARPER) is fraudulent and futile. It does not cater to the tillers’ interests but rather initiates and facilitates the reconcentration of lands to big landlords and local and multinational agribusinesses.
Under the Aquino regime, genuine justice is remote for the real Lacobe land beneficiaries, wrecked and ousted by the state-backed paramilitary group and tormented twice over by the DAR-instituted decriminalizing of landgrabbers via land title switching.
The dispossessed peasants of Lacobe staunchly believe in the NPA’s commitment to punish all violators especially those who perpetrate severe crimes against the people. Driving out their armed adversaries unfolds the peasant’s hope of repossessing their land. Above all, it is most righteous to give back to the peasants what is due to them.
It is the people’s democratic government’s cardinal duty, mainly through the people’s Army, to protect the people’s interests and defend their rights from all forms of subjugation that impede their social, economic and political liberties.