9 YR REPORT CARD: Landlessness still Persists

22 04 2010

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the Philippines Toots her own horn in her 9 years in Office

Manila. April 22nd, 2010 – One month ago, The president for the past 9 years declared her administration’s accomplishments boasting that economic growth is making positive impact on the lives of real people.  Based on her economic policies, her administration declared the peso strength was gaining on the weak dollar.  The President whose term ends after the middle of this year had been marred with scandal after scandal.  However, that has not stopped the President from tooting her own horns.  She repeated the Agriculture departments claim of generating millions of jobs by establishing security in governmental targeted economic development regions such as Mindinao.

It seemed like only yesterday, when my friend Jack Stephen, who runs and operates The Musturd Seed, went to the Philippines to understand the plight of Filipinos especially in the Labor sector.  There he found out from conducting his own research that the labor struggle is very much indeed connected to the Peasant landless struggle.  Furthermore, instead of just blogging about his experience he decided to take a proactive stance in educating those around him while firmly denouncing the military for their harassment and lack of interest in the protection of the people’s interest.

We will examine her claims and report on the various sectors (Peasants, Labor, Women, Youth and Students, and Indigenous people).  We will also look into her economic policies and her human rights rapport to determine her overall Report Card.

2009 Laklayan was mostly ignored by government officials when they passed into law an extention of CARP with Reforms. Peasants still remain landless and Landlords continue to profit of the current laws: CARP

On PEASANT –  The majority of land tillers still do not own any land.  Most peasants stay poor borrowing year after year to pay for farm tools, seeds, supplement food, and sometimes medicine if there is any money left over.  The majority of peasants are not satisfied.  According to a survey, 8 out of 10 in the country considers themselves poor.  75% of the country are Peasants.  Based on the popular majorities needs, local to national leaders need to address their main problem:  Land distribution. I n order to lift poverty, they will need to address the backwards farm tools by industrializing the economy nationally.

Here is a look at what President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo:  In 2008, she  extended CARP for a third time since the late Cory Aquino first introduced in in 1988 and Ramos extended in 1999.  Each time CARP was supposedly extended was because it fell short of its goal. The president signed into law CARPeR (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Reforms).  Did landlords including the President and her husband go against their own interest to redistribute land from landlords to peasants?  More importantly, did CARPeR finally resolve the centuries old problems of landlessness affecting the peasantry? Read the rest of this entry »

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Land is Life

21 04 2009

Land is life.  If you take it away, is it not the same as dying? Then why not die for your land?

(pictures to come soon)

Before shopping for laundry soap and chinelas, I had the taxi drop me off in front fo the House of Representatives in Manila.  In front of the gate, on both sides, Members of BAYAN-ST (New Patriotic Alliance in Southern Tagalog, Amihan (National federation of Peasant Women), KMP (Peasant movement in the Philippines, and  Kasama TK (The Southern Tagalog regional peasant organization of KMP)  had set up a protest camp.

The protest camp was built relatively quick on April 13th.  Within 15 minutes both sides of the camp was built like a treehouse-slim tall logs held the structure up as strips of garbage bags were used to tie the logs that held the structure up with the tarps that acted as the roof.

As I arrived to the Camp, I was greeted with smiles from youth to elders.  Their hands were rough from working the Palay fields (rice fields).  Their clothes were very simple, some with holes and some faded.  They spoke of why they set up camp and what they hope to accomplish.

I had the opportunity to interview different peasant leaders, many of them were women.  Nanay Carmen shared her life with me through gestures of her body, limited and broken english, but mostly in tagalog and kapampagan. From the beginning her eyes water.  I can see my reflection gazing into her eyes.  She is the daughter of small peasants.  After finishing elementary school she was forced to watch the carabaos on her family farm although she prefered to continue her education.

Nanay Carmen also shared with me the struggles that peasants face. Their livelihood taken away as they face poverty while those who exploit them profit off the peasants’ labor.  Nanay Carmen helps peasant women organize to fight for their right to livelihood.  Most of the peasant women who struggle come to her for help. Her story is not unique-many share her story-the majority of the Filipino people are landless, some gave up hope and others’ fight back like Ninay.  She is fierce and passionate that one day her people will be free from oppression.

I was intending to only stay for 1 hour in the camp-just to say Hello and catch-up however my stay ended up to be 9 hours.  The peasants wanted to ask me questions but they do not know how… We tried to communicate with simple language but there was frustrations from both sides.. Read the rest of this entry »