MABALACAT CITY -- Central Luzon farmers belonging to the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) and its affiliates are calling for the ouster of President Benigno Aquino III.
The farmers issued the statement during a protest-caravan in Pampanga, coinciding with the 27th year of the Mendiola massacre, which took place when former President Cory Aquino’s forces opened fire on farmers holding a demonstration in Mendiola demanding genuine land reform.
Some 13 farmers including Danilo Arjona, Leopoldo Alonzo, Adelfa Aribe, Dionisio Bautista, Roberto Caylao, Vicente Campomanes, Ronilo Dumanico, Dante Evangelio, Angelito Gutierrez, Rodrigo Grampan, Bernabe Laquindanum, Sonny Boy Perez, and Roberto Yumul were killed in the incident.
The groups claimed that Aquino implemented programs that betrayed the farmers.
“We never met any poor farmer that claimed their lives got better under BS Aquino, instead, they faced problems primarily displacement and land grabbing. Commemorating the 27th year of injustice of Mendiola massacre, we demand justice for the victims and of Hacienda Luisita massacre, Lupao massacre and the killing of Hacienda Dolores farmer, Arman Padiño," said Joseph Canlas, AMGL chairperson and Anakpawis Party-list regional coordinator.
The groups held their protest-caravan in Nueva Ecija -- Guimba public market to Aliaga town proper, crossing of Cabanatuan City. Other venues of the farmers protest were Sta. Rosa Tarlac City national highway and Subic-Clark-Tarlac-Expressway (SCTEX), Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx), Porac town, and Angeles City.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) – Central Luzon, Workers’ Alliance in Region III (War 3), Anakbayan – Central Luzon and Kadamay – Pampanga and various groups in Angeles city supported the farmers rally.
The farmers raised two points, the first among them the land reform issue in the region, claiming that Aquino failed to implement reforms such as the distribution of lands to poor farmers in the region.
In Pampanga, Bulacan and Bataan provinces, farmers are common victims of land grabbing and displacement where their lands are being subjected to land use conversion while in Zambales, farmers and Ayta communities were displaced by mining operations, said Canlas.
The second point is the President's alleged failure to protect the farmers of their rights. Farmers are victims of killing, harassment, and threats, according to Canlas. The groups claimed that Aquino demonstrated puppetry to US imperialism. Among this is the implementation of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program or government projects that violate farmers’ rights to land.
The government plan W-Growth Corridor as part of the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (Mtpdp) advised by the World Bank – Int’l Monetary Fund (WB-IMF) for the region is bound to displace farmers from lands targeted for conversion, Canlas added.