LEGAZPI CITY --- More than a thousand farmers and peasant leaders from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao are now gathering in this city for the 8th National Congress of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the largest peasant organization in the country.
Peasant leaders from KMP’s 15 regional chapters nationwide are joining the national activity to highlight the peasantry’s strong and united call for free land distribution.
“We are conducting our national congress at the time of Martial Law in Mindanao and creeping repressive rule,” said Joseph Canlas, chairperson of KMP. “Farmers will be at the forefront of the people’s opposition to a nationwide Martial Law declaration. We will remain vigilant against the militarism and fascism of President Rodrigo Duterte.”
Among the main demands of farmers is genuine land reform in coco lands, the realization of free land distribution which was agreed by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) during the previous rounds of formal peace talks, the return of the P75-billion coco levy fund to small coconut farmers and other demands that will uplift the situation of the peasant masses.
Long-time land reform advocates including agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano, National Anti-Poverty Commission lead convenor Liza Maza, Anakpawis Partylist
Rep. Ariel Casilao and Kilusang Mayo Uno leader Jerome Adonis joined the opening ceremonies of the KMP Congress.
“Local peasant struggles nationwide are gaining ground. This is our response to the continuing land monopoly and absence of genuine agrarian reform and perpetuation of landlessness and poverty of farmers in countryside,” said Antonio Flores, secretary general of KMP.
“As far as the peasant masses are concerned, President Duterte has failed in addressing the most basic demands of farmers that were raised to his administration early on. His pronouncements in support of neoliberal policies, the continuing militarization and human rights abuses against farmers are among the issues that we will raise in his upcoming SONA as we prepare to mobilize thousands more against Duterte.”
Bicolandia on fire
“In Bicol, thousands of hectares of coco lands remain undistributed. Our local chapter Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bicol is leading the regional struggle to occupy abandoned lands, haciendas and landholdings under the control of big landlords in Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon and Masbate. On July 24, farmers from Bicol will mobilize thousands against Duterte’s SONA.”
KMP’s activity in Legazpi City will continue until today and will culminate in a protest action on July 14. The national activity carries the theme “Onward to victory, expand and strengthen KMP. Intensify the struggle for genuine land reform and national industrialization.”