Farmers’ group slams Duterte’s new stand for foreign ownership of lands
DAVAO CITY – The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas expressed dismay over Davao City Mayor and presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte’s change of heart on the issue of foreign ownership of lands that farmers have been fighting against.
Rafael Mariano, KMP national chair, said the presidential bets’ dismissal of farmers’ demands for protection of the country’s land and natural resources from foreign ownership, and genuine land reform for farmers only unmasked the 2016 elections as a “political circus.”
But the KMP was particularly dismayed by Duterte’s recent statement on his openess to the proposal of foreigners owning up to 70 percent of a land property in partnership with Filipino businessmen.
Duterte, who repeatedly claimed in the past he was with the Left although he kept a cozy friendship with Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, the unrepentant son of the late dictator, President Ferdinand Marcos, also said he would allow foreigners to lease lands renewable for 40 years or equivalent to a “lifetime contract.”
“Farmers are dismayed with Duterte’s quick turnaround,” Mariano said in a statement.
“Leasing lands to foreigners renewable for 40 years would be worse than the current law allowing foreigners to lease lands for 50 years renewable for another 25 years,” he warned.
He said that in less than 12 hours and in the presence of big businessmen, Duterte retracted what he said to peasant leaders and land reform advocates at a forum at UP Diliman.
“That was quick,” Mariano said.
He said that in a forum at UP Diliman Wednesday, Duterte said he was open to genuine land reform and criticized the total failure of the Philippine government’s sham agrarian reform program.
“Duterte’s 180-degree turn and the dismissal of farmers’ demands by presidential wannabees clearly shows that the 2016 elections is a political circus, with candidates taking the Filipino people in a roller coaster ride,” Mariano said.
“The peasantry will continue to challenge all candidates on the demand for genuine land reform, the return of the multi-billion-peso coconut levy fund, and free irrigation, among others,” the KMP leader said and called on farmers to “intensify the struggle for genuine land reform.”
On the 29th year of the infamous Mendiola Massacre last January 22, KMP challenged presidential bets Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Grace Poe, and Duterte to distribute Hacienda Luisita owned by President Aquino’s family and the Araneta Estate owned by the relatives of Mar Roxas.
“We are challenging the three presidential frontrunners, Binay, Poe, and Duterte, on the genuine distribution of Hacienda Luisita and other vast landholdings of the Araneta Estate in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, and Rodriguez, Rizal owned by the relatives of Mar Roxas,” Mariano said.
“The failure of these presidential hopefuls to declare and implement the genuine distribution of Hacienda Luisita and other plantations makes them no different from the current haciendero government of Aquino,” he added.
He said the distribution of Hacienda Luisita and other vast haciendas would serve as a litmus test of the sincerity of presidential contenders on the issue of genuine land reform.
“We challenge them to reverse the DAR’s (Department of Agrarian Reform’s) fake distribution scheme that was designed to displace the farm workers and divide their ranks,” Mariano said.
The Supreme Court has ordered the distribution of lands from Hacienda Luisita but there have been disputes over the identification of farmer-beneficiaries. SFM
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