Thursday, May 23, 2019

Ombion: Duterte’s call for land reform


IN NEGROS is a positive and timely call. Everyone, foes, and friends of the president must welcome and support it.

Whatever his motive, the president is absolutely right that land reform strike at the very core of the basic contradictions in Negros society. It is the cause of the lopsided growth of urban and rural, the bloody clashes between landless peasants and sugar workers and the landlords with their private armies backed by state security forces, and the resurging armed insurgency led by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA).

Perhaps there is no other province in the country than Negros where land monopoly, monocrop sugar-based economy; the parasitic landlords who earn for themselves the sucking of the blood of their farm workers treated like slaves; the sharp class divide - are so pronounced literally and physically.

Again, whether the president was sincere or not, I sense that his call has the element of urgency and for sweeping land reform.

Urgent in order to prevent more bloodshed and loss of lives, as the lands due for distribution and also for new coverage are still pending in the Department of Agriculture (DAR), in local courts or somewhere, due to dilly-dallying work and organized syndicate transactions.

Sweep to prevent the landowners, the many crooks in the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and some legal counsels and professional brokers to turn the table against land reform, and make money out of the program either by connivance or individual efforts, as this has been widely reported in many offices in years.

Certainly, some powerful landowners with their legal counsels and brokers will always have a way to circumvent the law, and even use squid tactics to derail or frustrate the call of the president.

I know the crooks in the DAR, from national to the municipal and barangay level, are tactical magicians, who can use different odd conditions to continue their wickedness to enrich themselves when they already have been given so much in terms of wages and benefits.

Some local government unit (LGU) officials themselves also belong to big landed families in Negros. Chances are, they will use everything in their means to make lip service to the president’s call.

Frankly, looks like the odds are greater for the president, and more, for the landless farmers and farm workers.

So who will make sure that the president’s call with urgency and sweep, would be realized?

Of course, the decisiveness to make true his call is the president himself. He has all the powers and authority to implement his declaration, just as he did to Boracay rehabilitation program.

But given his habitual flip-flopping, or in Ilonggo “duso-butong” practice, who can we trust to make this truly urgent and sweeping?

Meantime, he has not backed out yet, or still sharpening on his implementation call. Would it be more meaningful and productive that the different peasants and farm workers organizations and their support non-government organizations and institutions in Negros could put up some activities to drum up the president’s call and gain more support?

I think it would help a lot for the cause if more peasants and farm workers groups even the organic and fair trade movements could unite even as a loose movement just to have the strength to tell the president to make true his call.

The pressure to the president must come from the ground.

A person, a group of political figures, or a forum, could not make the president feel the pressure. It must or should be a strong mass movement founded on a common platform of land is life.

I think that the progressive farmers and workers organizations must not also recoil from Duterte’s call by simply ignoring or dismissing it as a high profile drama, or a profanity, of the master bluffer president. It can make a more positive view to really challenge the president to make good his promise, or unmask his insincerity and bigotry to the peasants and farm workers.

It must take the initiative and leadership where others are afraid of their own little and pale shadow.

I believe the president has provided the green light for the concerned sectors to face and resolve the issue, rather than wait for the president to act, when many times, we have seen how he is strangled by the powers that be especially the military generals in his Cabinet.

We have more reason to reason and unite, than to argue and divide. Much more on the issue of land reform.

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