Northern Mindanao farmers hold protest in Oro-A A +A
Friday, October 21, 2011
AROUND 10,000 farmers from Northern Mindanao held a synchronized march and protest action on Thursday at the Provincial Capitol grounds.
The protest, dubbed “Lakbayang mag-uuma alang sa yuta, katungod ug katilingbanong hustisya” (Peasant Protest March for Land, Rights and Social Justice), gathered farmers from Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental - walking from their farms towards Cagayan de Oro.
Members of the Misamis Oriental Farmers Association (Mofa), who held a three-day encampment at the Provincial Capitol grounds, marched to Barangay Bulua near the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to wait for their colleagues while those from the western side started walking from Barangay Opol to the city proper.
The farmers from Bukidnon were stationed at Barangay Agusan to wait for their cue to march.
Later, the farmers converged at the Capitol grounds as they symbolically exchanged their produce like pineapple in Bukidnon, banana, coconuts and other farm products as a way of showing how rich Mindanao is.
Richard Colao, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) secretary general for Northern Mindanao, said they made this gimmick to show to concerned government agencies that their pleas are legitimate that need to be addressed.
“We are asking for the reversal of the ‘tersya’ system in favor of the tenants, increase in the prices of copra and its by-products, termination of the exploitative residue deductions, and wage increase for farm workers in the coconut plantations and coconut-processing businesses,” Colao said.
The protesters brought the issues from their respective farms to the regional capital in order to create awareness of their situation.
Colao said the protest theme evolved around issues of landlessness and the accompanying exploitative conditions of production that are being imposed unto the farmers.
Danilo Menente, chairperson of Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Bukidnon or Farmers' Association of Bukidnon (Kasama-Bukidnon), said global land grabbing is putting into serious risk the survival of small farmers and farm workers in the province.
Global land grabbing, according to the Pesticide Action Network in Asia and the Pacific (PAN-AP), refers to land deals, whether as direct purchases or long-term leases, that are being brokered in poor countries by advanced countries and their trans-national companies (TNCs) as they command resources to produce crops either for food, feedstock or agro fuel in commercial and export quantities.
Menente said they have been called “land grabs”, not as reference to their illegality, since many of the deals have passed government approvals.
Touted as Mindanao's food basket, Bukidnon has been a host to the country's largest plantations owned by TNCs.
Of the province's 315,164 hectares of alienable and disposable lands, 79,501 has been allotted to pineapple plantations alone and 31,607 for bananas.
Among the big corporations operating in Bukidnon are Del Monte Philippines Inc., Davao Agriventures Corporation, and Southern Fresh Fruits.
“In Bukidnon, TNCs conspired with the traditional landlords in grabbing vast tracks of land and in evading agrarian reform programs,” Menente said.
Coalo added that their protest will not end here as they will continue to do a series of demonstrations in the following days.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 21, 2011.