Duterte’s TRAIN to Exacerbate Crisis in Philippine Sugar Industry

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President Duterte’s Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law is expected to exacerbate the crisis in the Philippine Sugar Industry.

This will surely lead to further impovershipment of sugar field and mill workers. A genuine agrarian reform program and national industrialization are the only remedies for the ailing industry and for ensuring the growth of the Philippine economy that will benefit the Filipino people.

In the first place, the more than 780,000 field and 25,000 mill workers in the sugar industry are already exempted from paying income tax and would not benefit from TRAIN. This is especially true for the former, who only earn an average of P50,000 annually or around P4,000/month.

Instead, the effect of TRAIN will be an added burden to them because its provisions will increase the Value Added Tax (VAT) on low cost housing, gasoline products including LPG and sugary drinks.

This will lower the consumption of sugar, which will further decrease sugarworkers’ already low wages. This may even lead to dismissal from their jobs especially in the next cropping season starting October this year.

The TRAIN is just one of the many neoliberal policies followed by Duterte and previous governments that favor the interests of big foreign businesses over those of the Filipino working people.

TRAIN was recommended by the Partnership for Growth (PFG) of the US with the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce (JFCC) to the US-Duterte regime. This to make a comprehensive tax reform in order to lower the corporate income tax and individual taxable income, while increasing the  VAT, ACT (alcohol, cigarretes and tobacco), and fuel excise tax. It would lower or take away small taxes and other fees that increase the costs of businesses.

TRAIN also compounded the ill effects of neoliberal policies implemented during the Aquino administration, which reduced the tariff for imported sugarcane from 38% in 2011 to just 5% in December 2015.

 This has increased the importation of cheaper cane sugar and sugar substitutes like HFCS and bioethanol.

 Last year, even hacienderos planting sugarcanes experienced losses due to the entry of  High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) into the country. These were used primarily by softdrink giants, Coke and Pepsi, causing the price of sugarcane to go down.

At the start of the present Crop Year (CY) 2017-18, the mill gate price of sugar on September 2017 was only P1,370/Lkg. or for every 50 kilos. This was much lower than last year’s CY 2016-2017 which was P1,800/Lkg.

This even further diminished to just P1,175/Lkg at the end of December 2017, even when the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) issued out Sugar Order No. 3 on February 2017 in order to discourage the importation of HFCS.

From January to July 2017, the Philippines also imported 132 million liters of bioethanol from the US, an increase of 25% during the same period in 2016. Majority of the latter up to now is still imported from the US even if it can be produced locally from sugar and mollasses.

The failure of past administrations to truly uplift the socio-economic situation of sugarworkers all over the country has given the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) reason to believe that it is only through genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization can the sugar industry be salvaged from crisis. It also through such pro-people programs can we ensure economic development for all.

It is clear that sugarworkers cannot rely on the US-Duterte regime to attain any kind of progress. Thus, the NFSW will continue to expand its land cultivation areas (LCAs) in all of the haciendas nationwide. NFSW is steadfast in improving the economic well-being of sugar workers through raising their political consciousness, strenghtening their ranks, and continuing their struggles based on their collective efforts in order to dismantle the semi-feudal reign of big hacienderos, millers, and traders.

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AGRICULTURAL WORKERS: NO TO DUTERTE’S CHA-CHA

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) vehemently opposes the US-Duterte regime’s devious ploys to amend the Constitution either through a Conventional Assembly (Con-ass) or Constitutional Convention (Con-con).

Eager and desperate to fast-track Charter Change (Cha-cha), Duterte’s lapdogs rabidly push for a Con-ass to ensure the complete opening up of the country’s economy to foreign capitalist monopoly and wholesale auctioning of its people’s socio-political rights to the highest imperialist bidder, to say the least.

This basically sums up the harrowing provisions in the Resolution of Both Houses No. 8 (RBH 8), already on its 2nd reading in the Lower House, and its main reference document, the PDP-LABAN Proposed Federal Constitution that was given to the House but not filed in Congress.

Under the guise of redistributing wealth and giving autonomy to other regions, the proposed constitution grants Duterte unrestrained powers, acting both the executive and legislative arm until the First Federal Congress convenes. It also limits people’s political rights to suffrage instead of direct participation–which has overthrown tyrannical and corrupt regimes before.

Both proposals are a frontal attack to farmers and agricultural workers’ rights. They either completely scrap any mention of a genuine agrarian reform program or provide a loophole for transnational corporations’ plunder with the nifty insertion of “unless otherwise provided by law” placed after provisions that supposedly aim to serve national sovereignty and interest.

With a President hungry for power and members of Congress wanting to secure their political positions and economic interests, Cha-cha is being rammed through the legislative process and right through the people’s throats, just as it was with TRAIN and the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao.

If this is allowed to pass, the constitution will legitimize massive landgrabbing through onerous and exploitative contracts such as agribusiness venture agreements (AVAs) and unabated use and control of our natural resources. This will undoubtedly worsen the socio-economic situation of agricultural workers, farmers and indigenous people and lock them into further impoverishment.

With the possibility of a no-election scenario looming in 2019 were the new constitution ratified, Duterte’s dictatorship will come into its fullest manifestation.

After more than a year, Duterte has unabashedly exposed himself as the exemplary lapdog-fascist-dictator that imperialist countries, TNCs, and bureaucrat capitalists have long desired and waited for.

Thus, it is imperative that UMA together with its members, allies and broad masses rise up and fight the intensifying onslaught on our national democracy, sovereignty and socio-political rights until we completely isolate and overthrow the fascist US-Duterte regime.

NO TO CHARTER-CHANGE!

RESIST THE US-DUTERTE DICTATORSHIP!

OVERTHROW DUTERTE!

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Presidential Term Extension Unacceptable to Agricultural Workers

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) today stated that it is against a presidential and even House extension of terms in the guise of a transitory period in the shift to a federal system of government.

According to UMA Secretary General John Milton “Butch” Lozande, it seems that the shift to another system of government is nothing more than an excuse for President Duterte and his allies to stay in power longer than that is allowed by law.

Essentially this is to form a tyrannical government which the President is craving for together with his rubber stamp allies in Congress.  As this will retain their political and economic interests, which includes expansion of plantations to 1.6 million hectares more, most of which would be in Mindanao.

A proposed referendum in May for a federal system of government together with the barangay elections will not have a hard time pushing through. As this would be supported by most of the Congressmen who have political clout in their respective districts all over the country and by the prevailing martial law in Mindanao and threat of a crackdown on dissent nationwide which would ensure that this would not be tolerated.

UMA Sec. Gen. Butch Lozande said, on the other hand, that the proposed referendum in May would also be an opportunity for all progressive forces in the country, including UMA to raise national issues to the general public.

This includes the effect of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) on the increase in prices of transportation and basic necessities; expansion of plantations through land grabbing of multinational corporations and landlords on peasant lands and national minorities ancestral lands; continued killings of suspected drug addicts, pushers and those advocating for land, labor, and human rights; and among others continuing suppression of national democratic rights of the people including the continuation of martial law in Mindanao and threat of crackdown on all critics nationwide.

UMA can rely on its members nationwide and with other allied organizations under the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) to carry this out and strengthen itself against the evil designs to form a tyrannical government in whatever guise that the powers that be would like to foster.

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(Photo Courtesy of Rappler.com)

Martial Law Extension to Ensure Expansion of Plantations in Mindanao

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) condemns the extension of martial law in Mindanao for another year by President Duterte’s new cronies in Congress.​

This will ensure the expansion of plantations in Mindanao and impinge on the rights of agricultural workers, farmers and indigenous peoples.
The US-Duterte regime which is becoming a dictatorship is adhering to neo-liberal policies, one of which, is the targeted expansion of 1.6 million hectares of plantations, most of which would be in Mindanao.

Other than opening this up to TNC’s, this would also benefit Duterte cronies like ​Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corporation and Peter Lavina of ​the Philippine Palm Oil Development Council Inc.
One million hectares of this would be devoted to oil palm, and the rest to bananas, pineapples, rubber and sugar. These do not even include coffee and cacao.

At present, there are 500,000 has. already devoted to such crops in Mindanao.
More massacres against indigenous peoples and farmers opposing expansion of plantations would occur such as what happened on Dec. 3 in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.​

Soldiers belonging to the 27th IB massacred 8 lumads led by Datu Victor Dayan who opposed DMCI’s encroachment on their ancestral lands for expansion of coffee plantations and mining operations.
The military is quick to categorize them as NPA rebels, even if environmental and even church groups reveal otherwise.

Earlier on June 2 this year, soldiers and police dispersed striking workers of Shin Sun Tropical Fruit Corporation in Compostela Valley using martial law as an excuse. Fourteen workers and advocates were then arrested and beaten up.

Like the previous US Marcos dictatorship, which Duterte emulates, ML will ensure that nobody will be allowed to assert their land, labor and human rights such as in the plantation issue.

This new dictatorship though has forgotten the lessons of history. That when there is greater repression, there is greater and bigger resistance until all tyrants fall.

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Photo by Efren Ricalde

Agriworkers condemn attack on Negros rights mission

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Agriworkers led by the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) vehemently condemn the gun attack on human rights activists conducting a fact-finding mission in Bayawan City, Negros Oriental, yesterday afternoon (November 28).

The shooting incident resulted in the death of two members of the mission, Elisa Badayos, 59, and her companion, tricycle driver Eleoterio Moises. A youth activist was also reportedly injured.

UMA Secretary General John Milton “Butch” Lozande said that “The killing of human rights activists underscores the prevailing reign of terror in Negros Oriental. Duterte’s threats to go after legal activists have emboldened those behind the brutal killings in Negros and all other areas in the country plagued by impunity.”

According to Danilo Tabura of NFSW-Negros, activists and ordinary farmers like Badayos and Moises are common targets of Duterte’s crackdown.

Badayos, coordinator of Karapatan Negros Oriental, was no stranger to state fascism. Her husband, labor leader Jimmy Badayos was forcibly disappeared by the military in 1990. Their daughter Jimmylisa was also a victim of unlawful arrest and trumped-up charges in 2012. Elisa herself was slapped with several fabricated criminal charges in 2015.

Meanwhile, Moises was a barangay tanod and member of local peasant organization Mantapi Ebwan Farmers Association. The other injured victim was identified to be a member of Kabataan Partylist in Cebu City.

“Duterte’s threats translating into actual atrocities like this send a chilling effect to the public. The fascist regime wants victims and survivors to succumb to fear now that even human rights defenders have become targets of attacks. It does not tolerate the investigation of rights violations by state security forces not only in Negros but in other critical areas,” said Lozande, who likened the incident to Marcosian Martial Law tactics and Palparan-style terror during the Arroyo regime.

The mission, composed of 30 activists from Central Visayas, aimed to document the spate of extra-judicial killings (EJK), threats and harassment in Bayawan City and Santa Catalina. It was reported that the Philippine National Police (PNP) deployed additional combat troops in the province.

Negros Oriental was earlier in the news due to the spate of political killings in Guihulngan City, where human rights groups documented eight victims of EJK since July 2017.

“Following Duterte’s murderous rhetoric, state forces target unnarmed civilians and legal activists whom they believe are supporters of the New People’s Army. After the police suffered heavy casualties and humilitation for the July 21 ambush of the NPA in Guihulngan, state forces are disposed to retaliate and harass ordinary farmers and civilians,” said Lozande.

“Duterte and his mercenary police and military attack dogs are terribly mistaken if they think that the peasant movement will simply bow down to terror after this terrible incident. We have no choice but to continue to fight for justice. All human rights defenders and freedom-loving people here and abroad should condemn this latest atrocity of the US-Duterte fascist regime,” said Tabura.

Hacienda Luisita Farmers Continue to Assert Right to Cultivate DAR Revoked Areas

Hundreds of farmers in Hacienda Luisita continue to assert their right to cultivate lands still under the control of the Cojuangco-Aquino-Lorenzo firm Luisita Land Corp. (LLC) since November 15, 2017.

The area is located between brgys. Balete and Cutcut and comprises 200 hectares.

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) had already revoked the land use conversion order covering the 500-hectare LLC and RCBC areas in Hacienda Luisita on February 23, 2017, through then DAR Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng Mariano.

According to Renato Mendoza, Secretary General of Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), they have all the right to cultivate said lands because of this revocation order which LLC and even Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) refuse to honor.

That is why AMBALA filed a symbolic notice of eviction against RCBC on April 24 and November 15, 2017 by destroying its walls to fence off the farmers from legally owning and tilling the lands.

The latter incident resulted in the illegal arrest of AMBALA chairperson Florida “Ka Pong” Sibayan after she was suddenly snatched and dragged by civilians and police alike. This agitated AMBALA members to fight against this act of violence by whatever means they had at their disposal.

In a related development, the DAR stated during the National Stakeholders Forum on Land Use Conversion from Nov 16 to 17, 2017 in Quezon City, that it has to observe due process in dealing with the revoked order which it said does not take much time.

DAR added that it takes only 180 days for an application for land use conversion to be granted but 268 days had already lapsed since the revocation order was issued.

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), on the other hand which accredited the 500 hectare property as an Economic Zone, lists Central Techno Park, where it is located as operational even if only a solar power plant was built there on 50 hectares of property in 2015. It is also silent on the revocation order of DAR.

It only shows that the Duterte regime, which vowed to get rid of oligarchs like the Cojuangcos and Aquinos and classifies them as its arch enemies, still refuses to make a stand on this issue, including the Hacienda Luisita massacre.

It is up to the farmers and agricultural workers in Hacienda Luisita to ensure that they get justice from the massacre and other atrocities inflicted on them up to the present. At the present. At the same time get back the lands that are theirs in the first place.

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No Justice Expected from Duterte on Hacienda Luisita Massacre

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) today predicted that the Duterte government would never provide justice to the victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre. Even if supposedly, it blames the yellows such as former President BS Aquino as its arch enemies.

In fact, it is preparing for the reversal of the decisions made by former DAR Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano with regards to the land disputes there and in other parts of the country.

In the very day of the anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita massacre on November 16, and on the following day, the new leadership of DAR with Duterte’s blessings would conduct a forum to make it easier for landlords to evade agrarian reform through land use conversions.

Said aims is the opposite of what the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), which includes President Duterte, agreed to in September 2016 for a two-year moratorium for conversion of agricultural lands.

The President, however, never signed an Executive Order (EO), for it to be binding. He then agreed for the rejection of Ka Paeng as DAR secretary.

In essence the aims of the new DAR forum threaten Ka Paeng’s revocation order.  This involves 384.12 hectares of land in the RCBC compound that was never converted to non-agricultural use for a period of more than 5 years when the previous DAR agreed to its conversion into industrial and commercial use.  Ka Paeng then revoked Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) conversion order.

HLI used to own the 500 hectares of land which includes those that were revoked.  Said company then sold these to RCBC, Luisita Realty Corp. (now Luisita Land Corp.) and to Luisita Industrial Park Corp. (LIPCO), for P4 billion, and owes the farmworkers P1.33 billion as their share as previous stockholders.

It also threatens to reverse Ka Paeng’s junking of the appeal of Tarlac Development Corp. (TADECO) to exempt 358 has. of lands from land reform as the Cojuangco-Aquinos, who own said company applied for its conversion into industrial use.

Other than these two properties, an additional 600 plus hectares of agricultural land still held by various companies of the Cojuangco-Aquinos including that of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), with the Lorenzos as new co-owners, would be easily converted into other use.

There can be no justice for the massacre of agricultural workers when the President is pro-landlord like the people he supposedly detests, the Cojuangcos and Aquinos.

AMBALA Issues Eviction Notice on RCBC Compound in Hacienda Luisita

Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) today issued an eviction notice on the 500 hectare RCBC compound in Hacienda Luisita.

According to John Milton “Butch” Lozande, secretary general of UMA, said eviction order was made as the new Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is preparing the grounds for the reversal of the revocation order issued by former DAR Sec. Rafael “Ka Paeng”Mariano on February 23, 2017. AMBALA is a member of UMA.

The new DAR leadership will conduct a two day National Stakeholders Forum on Land Use Conversion on Nov. 16 – 17 in Microtel, UP Technohub.

This forum aims to “harmonize and hasten the processes, procedures, guidelines, documentary requirements, and timelines of different agencies, with respect to the issuances of clearances which are required by DAR to properly treat an application for land use conversion or exemption from agrarian reform coverage.

In essence this threatens Ka Paeng’s revocation order.  This involves 384.12 hectares of land in the RCBC compound that was never converted to non-agricultural use for a period of more than 5 years when the previous DAR agreed to its conversion into industrial and commercial use.  Ka Paeng then revoked Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) conversion order.

HLI used to own the 500 hectares of land which includes those that were revoked.  Said company then sold these to RCBC, Luisita Realty Corp. (now Luisita Land Corp.) and to Luisita Industrial Park Corp. (LIPCO), for P4 billion, and owes the farmworkers P1.33 billion as their share as previous stockholders.

It also threatens to reverse Ka Paeng’s junking of the appeal of Tarlac Development Corp. (TADECO) to exempt 358 has. of lands from land reform as the Cojuangco-Aquinos, who own said company applied for its conversion into industrial use.

Other than these two properties, an additional 600 plus hectares of agricultural land still held by various companies of the Cojuangco-Aquinos including that of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), with the Lorenzos as new co-owners, would be easily converted into other use.

Said aims is the opposite of what the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), which includes President Duterte, agreed to in September 2016 for a two-year moratorium for conversion of agricultural lands. The President, however, never signed an Executive Order (EO), for it to be binding.

This also shows President Duterte’s true colors. He was never against the oligarchs, which includes the Cojuangcos, Aquinos, and Lorenzos who own Hacienda Luisita. He is just full of bluster and nothing more.

‘October Revolution Centennial Celebration’ rouses Metro Cebu  

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Young cultural activists perform at the Plaza Independencia, Cebu City as part of the October Revolution Centennial Celebration. (Photo CTTO)

CEBU CITY – Heavy rain failed to dampen the spirits of a hundred flag bearers accompanied by thousands of working people who marched the streets of Metro Cebu early evening yesterday, October 19.

The marchers waved a hundred red flags with the communist hammer and sickle insignia from the Fuente Osmena rotunda, through the busy Colon intersection and through the Plaza Independencia public park, where delegates of the Lakbayan ng Visayas inter-island protest caravan held a rousing program to open the October Revolution Centennial Celebrations (ORCC) here in the city.

“Many of you may have been startled to see these flags out in the open. For so long, this (hammer and sickle) symbol of workers and peasants has been demonized by oppressors and imperialists,” John Ruiz of Bayan Muna Central Visayas said in his opening speech.

“The Filipino toiling masses turn to the historic victory of the Russian revolution for invaluable lessons to guide our own struggle for national democracy and socialism,” said John Milton Lozande, Secretary General of Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the national political center of militant agricultural workers’ unions and associations in haciendas and plantations.

Filipino activists are among progressives and revolutionaries all over the world who continue to draw inspiration from the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution, also known as the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 led by Vladimir Lenin in Russia. The 1917 revolution established the first socialist state in the world.

“The revolutionaries who established socialist states such as the former USSR freed a significant fraction of the world’s working peoples from the clutches of class oppression. This historical fact is obscured and disparaged by the dominant bourgeois and imperialist discourse, but the toiling masses can only find hope, reason and perspective in the revolutionary proletarian standpoint exemplified by Lenin,” added Lozande.

The Philippine ORCC had its public launch on May 5, 2017 at the University of the Philippines, Diliman led by the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) and Bagong Alyansang Bayan (BAYAN). Since then, various activities such as study conferences, solidarity activities, and cultural presentations were held to bolster the ORCC. UMA is a member organization of ILPS and BAYAN.

Here in Cebu, several activist cultural groups from the ranks of young farmers and agricultural workers of Negros, Cebu and Bohol performed theatrical presentations to celebrate the working peoples’ struggle for land, justice and peace. Among these groups are Bansiwag of Bohol, Teatro Obrero, associated with the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), Teatro Kaling, and Teatro Bungkal of Negros Occidental, whose troupe performed a 45-minute dance and movement cycle detailing the history of Negros and the continuing struggle of its toiling masses.

The performances were met with resounding applause and cheering from the audience composed mainly of poor peasants and workers, with students, church people, educators and other supporters of the Lakbayan. The program ended around 11:00 in the evening with the singing of the Filipino version of the Internationale, the anthem of the international working class movement.

“The victory of the October Revolution reminds us that the human race must not settle for the mad world that the moribund capitalist system supports – a world of brutality and decadence, unending wars, plunder, and famine founded on exploitation and oppression.”

“We will continue to fight imperialism and its neoliberal attacks to advance the struggle for national democracy – for genuine land reform, national industrialization, and social justice. Workers believe that with a socialist perspective, another world is definitely possible.” ended Lozande.

The Lakbayan ng Visayas will culminate in a big mobilization today, October 20. The ORCC will also be a main feature of the #LakbayMagsasaka Pambansang Lakbayan ng Magsasaka para sa Lupa at Laban sa Pasismo to be held from October 23-25 in Manila.

#LakbayMagsasaka | Protests hound agencies in Cebu for neglect of Visayan farmers

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Huge Lakbayan contingent temporarily blocked by security men near the US Consulate in Cebu Ciy.  Photo: Aninaw Productions

Thousands of farmers belonging to the Lakbayan ng Visayas inter-island protest caravan swarmed the streets of Cebu today to decry government neglect of Visayan farmers.

Tenant farmers, fisherfolk, and sugar workers from the Visayas are among the most destitute in the country. The Lakbayan protests emphasized that Duterte’s unfulfilled campaign promises, and the neoliberal policies and imperialist impositions in the economy cause further dislocation and extreme poverty in local peasant communities.

Over a thousand sugar farmworkers from Negros under the National Federation of Sugar Workers-Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (NFSW-UMA) spilled to the streets as they occupied the façade of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Region VII office.

According to John Milton Lozande, UMA Secretary General, sugar workers decry the DOLE’s performance, if not outright complicity in the anomalous implementation of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) in the sugar industry.

SAP is a government program enacted in 1991 through RA 6982. It provides for bonuses, benefits and socio-economic programs for sugar workers. During the dialogue with DOLE officials, NFSW Chairperson Rolando Rillo said that most sugar workers in the region, including Negros Oriental and Northern Cebu, report that they do not receive any form of assistance from the program.

“Our problem with SAP is much like the coco levy and tobacco excise tax which the Marcoses have plundered. The government exacts a levy from sugar produce supposedly to help the workers, but our poor farmworkers have no way of taking direct control of the funds,” he said.

Rillo added that for the longest time, SAP funds were used by big landlords and sugar barons to further reinforce the feudal patronage system and to fund the private armies of hacienderos that augment militarization in the countryside. A similar program to SAP was first enacted in the 1950s, but was also institutionalized during Martial Law and favored Marcos cronies in the sugar industry.

Meanwhile, Lakbayan protesters also trooped to other government agencies this morning. Farmers from HUMABOL-Bohol and KMP-Cebu held a picket at the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to highlight President Duterte’s empty promise of free irrigation to farmers. Local peasant groups and fisherfolk from Pamalakaya held a dialogue with DENR officials to decry reclamation programs, rampant land use conversion and the anti-people No Build Zone policy. Protests and dialogues with the Department of Agriculture (DA), Bureau of Fisheries and other agencies are scheduled for this afternoon.

IMPERYALISMO, IBAGSAK!     

The Lakbayan protests merged this morning at the US Consulate with the call to end lopsided trade agreements affecting agriculture, US military exercises and military basing across the country and other neoliberal attacks against the Filipino people.

“The Duterte regime has proven itself beholden to US imperialist dictates,” said Rillo.  “His slogans for an independent foreign policy now rings hollow. He bows down to the US by doing nothing to change US hegemony in the country, while also making our economy increasingly dependent on multi-billion loans from China and other big powers,” he added.

“The country will remain backward and our farmers impoverished without genuine land reform. The feudal set-up in the countryside provides continued basis for imperialist leeches to fester,” he ended.

The Visayas Lakbayan will culminate here in Cebu tomorrow, October 20, while farmers led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) from Mindanao, Bicol, Southern Tagalog and North and Central Luzon regions will continue to march to Manila for the #LakbayMagsasaka Pambansang Lakbayan para sa Lupa at Laban sa Pasismo from October 23-25.