LEGAZPI CITY – National agriworkers center Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) is one with hundreds of farmers from all over the country gathered today at the Ibalong Centrum in Legazpi City for the 8th National Congress of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). The militant KMP is the biggest organization of peasants and farmworkers in the country.
According to UMA Chairperson Renato Mendoza, the KMP congress is convened amid alarming conditions confronting our farmers today. “The declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, for one, has already affected hundreds of thousands of peasants not just in the Marawi and Lanao area, but also in various provinces in Mindanao. Outside Mindanao, farmers also suffer de facto martial law, with the AFP’s all-out war against progressive and revolutionary forces in the countryside. Civilians in peasant communities become victims of military atrocities,” said Mendoza.
In the Bicol region, where the KMP congress is being held, the recent declaration of “red alert” by state forces have resulted in more human rights violations in areas already reeling from militarization. Farmers have converged here in Legazpi City, defying terror tactics and intense military operations. More than a thousand farmer-delegates come from Bicol provinces Albay, Masbate, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur.
“Kapayapaan ang pangako ni Pangulong Duterte pero nanganganib na gumuho ang usapang pangkapayapaan sa NDFP dahil sa militarista at pasitang tunguhin ng rehimen (Duterte promised us peace but the peace talks with the NDFP is in peril of collapse due to the fascist and militarist direction of the Duterte regime),” Mendoza said.
“There can be no peace without justice. Government must heed our demand for genuine land reform and national industrialization, which will also address the roots of armed conflict in the country. All-out war, martial law, and US military intervention will only spark further unrest in the countryside. The dislocation of peasants and internal refugees is but a prelude to a new wave of landgrabbing for imperialist interests such as large-scale mining, so-called development projects and expansion of agribusiness plantations,” Mendoza emphasized.
The KMP Congress theme, “Magtagumpay!” challenges the odds posed by violent maneuvers of militarists and oligarchs in the Duterte regime, who are now desperate to maintain imperialist neoliberal economics and the country’s oppressive, semifeudal set-up.
“UMA fully supports the KMP in leading the peasant struggle for genuine land reform and national industrialization. Even with intense militarization in the countryside, aerial bombings, political killings, state terror and repression, peasants are poised to gain greater victories in our campaign to dismantle the hacienda system and land monopoly of big landlords and agribusinesses,” said Mendoza.
UMA cited the peasant struggle in Hacienda Luisita against the CojuangcoAquino family, and in Madaum, Tagum City, where agriworkers triumphed against the landgrabbing Lorenzo family of Lapanday Corporation. “The bungkalan or land cultivation initiatives of peasants thrive in these areas, due to collective and militant struggle,” Mendoza stressed.
Department of Agrarian Reform Sec. Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Lead Convenor Liza Maza, and Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao were also present at the KMP Congress to support peasant demands for genuine land reform and national industrialization.
The 2-day KMP Congress will end tomorrow, and will culminate in a protest march, July 14, to be joined by thousands of Bikolano farmers in downtown Legazpi City.