23 October 2018
Labor leader calls to expedite the dismantling of haciendas in light of Sagay massacre
Veteran labor leader Leody de Guzman today condemned and blamed the Duterte administration for the massacre of nine farmers who were tilling privately owned farm land in between harvest and planting season to meet their families food requirements. Among the victims in the Hacienda Nene massacre in Sagay City included two minors and four females.
The labor leader said that the Sagay incident “will most likely occur again because of the current administration’s neglect and lack of resolve to address the plight of peasants and farmworkers three years into the president’s term”.
“As chief executive, Duterte has the authority to promulgate policies that will address the root causes of all agrarian disputes and expedite the process of the turning over huge tracts of land to agrarian beneficiaries but instead Duterte simply sat on the clamor for the redistribution of land,” said De Guzman, chairperson of Bukluran ng Manggagawang.Pilipino and candidate for a Senate seat under Partido Lakas ng Masa.
A study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) published last December 2017 reported that more than 600,000 hectares of agricultural land remain undistributed. The majority of which are in the Bicol region and the Negros provinces.
He also lamented that the administration in the past three years could have easily issued marching orders to the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board but instead the president opted to neglect their needs and even encouraged the encroachment of foreign companies on Mindanaoan farm lands.
De Guzman ascertained that even if the police capture the culprits and the mastermind to the brutal slayings agrarian unrests will continue to erupt nonetheless as the issue of landlessness and inexcusable neglect for the sector remains.
“Not unless the landlessness of the rural multitude is addressed, there will be massacres of hapless peasants dotting the archipelago. Poverty and social injustice will sweep the countryside fueling the rise of insurgency,” he warned.
The plight of the peasants and farmworkers, according to De Guzman “is further exacerbated by the liberalization of agriculture, the lack of government support for its modernization as cartels remain unchecked leaving the rural folks poor, hungry and desperate”.
He adds that the police should not blame the farmers for trespassing on privately owned farm land. “Their grumbling stomachs has driven them to plant crops that they can live on till the next planting season. We must seek policy reforms in order to alleviate their conditions”.
The labor leader also believes that food inflation brought about by the increase of excise taxes since January of this year contributed heavily to yoke burdened by farmers.
De Guzman called on the public specially the land reform claimants to utilize next year’s election to support candidates with realizable, concrete platforms to resolve land disputes and to punish rabid anti-land reform candidates by organizing a protest vote.###