After Duterte’s order to occupy oligarch lands: Start with Lapanday and Luisita—youth group

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

“If Duterte is sincere with his words, then posture must translate to action. President Duterte, you can start with the dismantling of land monopolies of the Cojuangco-Aquinos in Luisita and the Lorenzos in Tagum,” said Kabataan Partylist Representative Sarah Elago.

This is following Duterte’s ‘order’ for the people to takeover lands owned by oligarchs if they insist on not paying their taxes within three months.

“Farmers have already occupied these lands, they have fought, have braved violence and risked their lives. The Cojuangco-Aquinos and Lorenzos are both infamous for resorting to violence and killing farmers to continue their ownership and monopoly of lands,” explained Elago.

Banana farm workers of Lapanday Foods Corporation in Tagum and sugar-cane farm workers of Hacienda Luisita have been declared as “agrarian reform beneficiaries” by Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Sec. Rafael Mariano. The Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. (MARBAI) has occupied the banana plantation, awaiting the fulfillment of the DAR’s writ of installment. MARBAI farmers are currently camped-out in Mendiola to challenge Duterte to intervene so that they can finally claim the 145-hectare contested land.

Meanwhile peasant groups from Hacienda Luisita launched its bungkalan and Occupy campaign on April 23-24.

“In 2012, the Supreme Court has already ruled for the distribution of 4,335 hectares owned by the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI). Furthermore, according to Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the Cojuangco-Aquinos owe the farmers some P1.33 billion for selling some 80.5 hectares of land assets for the construction of Subic-Clark Tarlac Expressway,” Elago explained.

“It should likewise be noted that Martin Lorenzo, also a co-owner of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac, partakes in the abuse of farm-workers and peasants in Luisita,” Elago added.

“Following the historical advance in the signing of an agreement that upholds free land distribution as fundamental to socio-economic reforms, the dismantling of haciendas is only but just. This is aside from the fact that these oligarchs and landlords are also main culprits in depressing wages and various labor rights violations. Sakadas in HLI earn a measly P9.50 per day, which is grossly inhumane,” Elago lamented.

Yesterday, the youth joined 100,000 workers, peasants, and urban poor, under the leadership of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), as they marched to the streets to demand an end to contractualization and  nationalization of wages. The youth backs KMU in fighting for P750/day wage for private employees and P16,000/mo for the public sector workers.

“The youth also demanded to end the K to 12 program that will produce thousands of contractuals and unemployed youth by the time its first batch graduates, due to its thrust to export labor abroad,” Elago said.

The youth vows to continue to join forces with the poor, peasants and the workers as they reclaim what is rightfully theirs. “We will continue to occupy the idle mass housing, lands owned by monopolies, launch strikes in enclaves and occupy the streets to reclaim our collective rights!,” Elago concluded. ###