100 farmers call for Aquino to quit

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014


CLOSE to 100 farmers and their allies in Davao Region urged President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday to step down from his post for failing to address concerns of the public.

Members of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas with the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Southern Mindanao Region (SMR) issued the statement during the protest marking the 27th anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre, which occurred under former President Corazon Aquino's term.

The Mendiola Massacre claimed the lives of 13 farmer-protesters along Mendiola Street in San Miguel, Manila on January 22, 1987 during a protest in front of Malacañang for genuine land reform, which was fired upon by police.

Pedro Arnado, chairperson of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), said their call to Aquino to resign is not only about claiming justice for the deprived, but a revolution to achieve land distribution and reform.

"For several years, farmers and peasants have gone through too much pain and abuse from those greedy land grabbers. Despite our continuous call for justice and distribution, the Carp (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program) is still implemented," Arnado said.

Arnado said Carp was implemented to keep large parcels of land in the possession of rich landowners like the Aquinos. He added that Aquino implemented programs that betrayed the farmers adding that the incumbent president is as merciless as his mother.

The protesters, who held marched from Freedom Park to Rizal Park in the city on Wednesday, also challenged the President to withdraw his illegal claim on 6,453 hectares Hacienda Luisita.

"If he's serious and true with his taglines -- matuwid na daan and kayo ang boss ko -- he'll immediately allow the free distribution to the farm workers who are supposed to be the owners of this land," Arnado said.

"Justice for us is land and genuine reform. By that, we are strongly urging Mr. Aquino to approve House Bill 357, the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB). We'll never stop until we get what is supposed to be for the farmers and peasants," he added.

Sheena Duazo, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general, said with the worsening condition of the farmers due to rice smuggling, the society cannot expect any answer from the government, thus their call for Aquino to step down from his post.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 23, 2014.

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