Relatives and friends demand justice

for slain Nueva Ecija peasant leader Pascual Guevarra

 

Quezon City

 

July 22, 2010

 

 

Lilibeth Guevarra-Bunag, youngest daughter of Pascual Guevarra,

holds a photo of her father at the press conference held by Karapatan -  Central Luzon

   
   
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PRESS RELEASE
July 19, 2010
Reference: Roy Morilla, KMP Public Information Officer (0907-418-0098)

Defense secretary, Noynoy's AFP chief still silent on Oplan Bantay Laya -- farmer groups

Around 150 peasant activists staged a caravan of several jeeps from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) national office in Quezon to the Camp Aguinaldo this morning to press Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Ricardo David to categorically state the junking of the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya, which they said were responsible for the spate of political killings of leftwing activists all over the country.

The protesters led by Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) held a 30-minute rally at the gate of Camp Aguinaldo along EDSA before joining the larger contingent of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Mendiola which spearheaded a multi-sectoral rally against Oplan Bantay Laya.

In a joint press statement KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos and Kasama-TK secretary general Axel Pinpin said President Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III, Secretary Gazmin and AFP chief Gen. David should move heaven and earth to stop the military death squads from killing more political activists, asserting Aquino as commander-in- chief is duty bound to end this across-the-country slaughter of leftwing activists all over the archipelago.

The peasant leaders said aside from junking the counter-insurgency program, President Aquino and his defense officials should also go after the brains and operators of Oplan Bantay Laya particularly former defense secretary Norberto Gonzalez and ex-Army general Jovito Palparan, charge the two before any appropriate court for crimes against humanity and prepare their prosecution at the soonest time possible and have Gonzalez and Palparan jailed before the bars of justice within the first 100 days in office of President Aquino.

Both leaders did not discount the possibility that death squads in the military loyal to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and ex-defense secretary Gonzalez could be behind the killings of left-wing activists, however, the heavy responsibility still lies on the Aquino administration, adding that the 50-year old president is legally bound and politically obliged to dismantle these military death squads and stop the AFP from absorbing military death squads allied with Arroyo or from forming new death squads against critics and political activists highly vocal against the new administration.

"Whether these death squads are allied with Arroyo or not, the prime responsibility of Aquino is to have these death squads perish in the fires of hell and bring the perpetrators of extrajudicial killings to the bar of justice," the KMP and Pamalakaya said.

Last week Ramos of KMP and Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano led an investigating team composed of peasant leaders, para legal workers and human rights advocates to determine other facts pertaining to the cold blooded murder of peasant leader Pascual Guevarra, head of the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid na Nagkakaisa sa 3,100 Ektarya ng Fort Magsaysay (Almana 3100) who was gunned down by a lone gunman inside the victim's house on Saturday.

According to Ramos the result of the fact finding mission will be presented to the Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Leila de Lima anytime this week. In a text message sent to KMP headquarters in Quezon City, the KMP leader said the family of slain farmer leader wants to hold a dialogue with Secretary de Lima regarding the case.

"In behalf of the grieving family and relatives of Ka Pascual and his multitude of supporters in and out of the disputed 3,100 hectares inside Fort Magsaysay military reservation, we ask President Aquino to resolve this case with dispatch and high sense of justice. Mr. Aquino as commander-n- chief of the reactionary AFP is legally, constitutionally and politically equipped with powers under his disposal enough to render justice to Guevarra and send the perpetrators of this politically motivated crime behind the bars of justice," the KMP official said.

Pascual grandson , Ronnel Villoria, 18, tried to help his grandfather but the gunman shot and wounded him, said Senior Inspector Almario Evaristo, Laur's police chief. The 78-year old activist farmer is the second member of the militant group killed in the first 10 days of the Aquino administration, following the brutal murder of Fernando Baldomero, a leader of Bayan Muna in Aklan.

"To prove to the outraged public that he is really against political killings, Aquino should immediately put under preventive suspension or drop from the service military and police generals in command where extrajudicial killings take place under the dictum of command responsibility. That's one way of discouraging the generals and members of death squads from perpetrating more crimes against political activists," said Ramos.

KMP and kasama-TK also proposed a full blown investigation of implementors of the counter-insurgency programs Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and Oplan Bantay Laya II which were largely blamed on the killings and abductions of activists under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.

The groups said the investigation should cover all military and police generals who served the Arroyo administration from 2001 to 2010 including former Defense Secretary Gonzalez and Gen. Palparan who were implicated in extrajudicial killings and abductions of political activists. #
 

Tom Guevarra of ALMANA, brother of slain peasant leader Pascual
Eddie Pujeda of JPAG-Aurora
           
           

 

The relation between national democracy and land reform is very clear. We can achieve genuine land reform only if we, as a nation, are free from colonial and imperialist domination. In fighting for national democracy against U.S. imperialism and feudalism today, we need to unite the peasantry - the most numerous class in our society - on the side of all other patriotic classes and we need to unite with the peasantry, as the main force or backbone of our national unity and anti-imperialist struggle

 

-- Jose Maria Sison,

(Speech delivered in Pilipino before the first Central Luzon Regional Conference of Kabataang Makabayan, at Republic Central Colleges, Angeles City, on October 31, 1965; and in English at the College of Agriculture, University of the Philippines, Los Ba¤os, Laguna on March 23, 1966.)

 

           
           
   
   

 

     
           
 
   


Progressive Groups Urge Aquino to Scrap Oplan Bantay Laya and Its Operating Principles

 

By RONALYN V. OLEA
“It is unthinkable that Aquino is unaware of the military’s policy on extrajudicial killings of activists. The recent killings bore the DNA of Gen. Jovito Palparan’s shock and terror tactics,” Anakpawis party-list Representative Rafael Mariano said.

 

Pascual Guevarra and the Struggle for Land

 

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Pascual Guevarra’s colleagues and relatives reacted strongly when President Benigno Aquino III said the recent cases of extrajudicial killings were due to personal grudges.

 

   

     
     

 

Hustisya para kay Tatay Pascual Guevarra!-KMP/Tanggol Magsasaka
 

TANGGOL MAGSASAKA
Peasant Network for LAND, JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTSS

FACTSHEET

Kaso:
(1) Summary Execution
(2) Attempted murder

Biktima:

(1) Pascual Guevarra, 78 taong gulang, lider-magsasaka ng Alyansa ng Magbubukid na Nagkakaisa sa 3,100 Ektarya sa Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (ALMANA 3100) sa Laur, Nueva Ecija

(2) Ronnel Viloria, 18 taong gulang, apo ni Pascual Guevarra

Petsa/Oras ng pangyayari: July 9, 2010/ 4:30-4:45 ng hapon
Lugar ng pangyayari: bahay ni Pascual Guevarra sa Brgy. San Isidro,
Laur, Nueva Ecija

May Kagagawan: 2 di-kilalang lalaki na nakasakay sa motorsiklo,
pinaghihinalaang mga elemento ng AFP

Buod ng pangyayari:

Noong Hulyo 9, 2010, sa pagitan ng 4:30 – 4:45 ng hapon, pinatay si Pascual “Tatay Pascual” Guevarra, lider-magbubukid ng Alyansa ng Magbubukid na Nagkakaisa sa 3,100 Ektarya sa Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (ALMANA 3100), lokal na organisasyon ng Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) na pangrehiyunal na balangay ng Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). Ang biktima ay binaril nang dalawang beses sa kanyang kanang dibdib ng isang di-kilalang lalaki na pumasok sa kanilang bahay sa Brgy. San Isidro, Laur Nueva Ecija.

Ayon sa salaysay ni Lilibeth Bunag, anak ni Tatay Pascual, habang siya ay naliligo sa poso loob ng kanilang bahay, nakarinig siya ng taong naglalakad ng mabilis patungo sa pwesto ng kanyang tatay na nasa lutuan, sa kusina sa likuran ng kanilang bahay.

Nakita niya ang isang lalaki na nakasuot ng light blue shirt, naka-maong at nakasumbrero tapos biglang itinaas ang t-shirt at hinugot sa beywang ang baril 9mm na stainless. Sa tantya niya, ito ay 35-37 taong gulang, 5’5 ang taas, maputi, may itsura, matipuno, medyo malaki ang tyan at pulis o sundalo ang tindig.

Sa panahong ito, si Tatay Pascual ay may sinusuksok na kahoy sa ilalim ng lutuan nang makita niyang nakatutok sa kanya ang baril. Nakipag-agawan pa ng baril si Tatay sa lalaki hanggang sa tinamaan siya ng dalawang beses sa kanang bahagi ng diddib.

Nang bumagsak si Tatay Pascual, si Lilibeth ay di kaagad nakatayo sa pwesto niya.


 

 

Kararating lang mula sa bukid ng apo ni Tatay Pascual na si Ronnel Vilario, 18 taong gulang, at itinatali ang kalabaw sa kanilang bakuran nang eksaktong nakarinig siya ng putok mula sa loob ng bahay kaya kumaripas siya ng takbo diretso sa kusina. Nakita niyang nakahandusay na si Tatay Pascual, at kaagad niyang niyakap mula sa likod ang lalaki upang pigilan at puntiryahin ang kamay na may hawak na baril. Tumulong si Lilibeth sa pagpigil, nang makitang duguan ang ama, binitawan niya ang lalaki at niyakap niya si Tatay Pascual. Ilang minutong nahawakan ni Ronnel ang lalaki ngunit ito’y nakawala at binaril siya sa kanang balikat. Biglang tumakbo palabas ng tarangkahan ang lalaki at biglang sumakay sa motorsiklong walang plaka, kasama ang di kilalang driver nito na naka-jacket ayon sa isang kapatid ni Ronnel na nakakita, humarurot ng takbo at pa-hilaga ang direksyon. Sa pagkakataong ito, kahit duguan, hinabol ni Ronnel ang lalaki sa tapat ng bahay ngunit hindi niya na ito nakita.

Alas 5:15 ng hapon, isinasakay sa tricycle at dinala ni Lilibeth si Tatay Pascual sa ospital ng bayan ng Bongabon ngunit idineklara siyang Dead on Arrival ng mga doktor.

Ilang saglit lamang, binanggit ng kanyang kapatid na may mga pulis na dumating sa kanilang bahay upang mag-imbestiga.

Si Ronnel ay isinakay sa PNP mobile at dinala sa isang ospital sa Cabanatuan kasama ang kanyang ina.

Ayon sa salaysay ng ni Rowell Viloria, apo din ng biktima, noong Hulyo 9, bago mag-alas kwatro ng hapon, may humintong motorsiklo sa tapat ng bahay nila lulan ang 2 lalaki. Akala niya ay kakilala ni Tatay Pascual o kaya ay hihingi ng tulong, dumiretso agad ito sa may puno ng mangga na malapit sa gilid ng bahay ng biktima.
 

May mga naitalang kahina-hinalang mga pangyayari bago ang pagpatay kay Tatay Pascual. Isang buwan bago ang insidente, may magbobote at nagtitinda ng icedrop na laging dumadaan sa tapat ng bahay ng biktima at nagmamanman. Tapos, isang linggo bago at pagkatapos ng insidente, hindi na bumalik sa lugar ang magbobote at nagtitinda ng icedrop.

Kaugnay nito, noong Hulyo 5, habang nasa tanggapan ng Dept. of Agriculture Region 3 sa San Fernando, Pampanga ang biktima kasama ang ibang magsasaka, dumating si Engr. Byrone dela Cruz ng DPWH 3rd District ng Nueva Ecija sa kanilang bahay at hinanap ang biktima. Nakausap si Lilibeth at nag-iwan ng mensahe kaugnay sa ginawang road project at widening ng ahensya at babayaran na daw ang mga apektadong magsasaka. Sa pagkakataon ding ito, binanggit na babalik siya sa Hulyo 9, Biyernes at huwag paalisin si Tatay Pascual. Hinanap ng Engr. Dela Cruz, ang asawa ni Lilibeth at kinuha ang 2 cellphone numbers niya.

Noong Hulyo, 8, umaga, nang pumunta sa private doctor ang biktima para magpa-check up at dumiretso sa opisina ng Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO) ng Laur. Habang nasa kanyang lakad, bandang 4 ng hapon, ayon kay Lilibeth, may black Hyundai Starex na sasakyang may red plate ang dumaan sa tapat ng bahay ng biktima at mabagal ang takbo ng sasakyan, dumiretso at pagdating sa sign ng episcopal church (ilang metro lang sa bahay ng biktima) bigla itong lumiko pabalik palabas ng Brgy. San Isidro.

Noong Hulyo 9, umaga, habang naglulunsad ng bible study ang pamilya ng biktima, nakita ulit na dumaan ang black Starex na sasakyan. Mabagal ang takbo pagtapat sa bahay tapos biglang humarurot padiretso sa tulay tapos bumalik din kaagad at mabagal ulit ang takbo pagtapat sa bahay ng biktima.

Ayon kay Lilibeth, hindi dumating si Engr. Dela Cruz sa usapan nila ng tatay niya, hindi man lang tumawag o nagtext.

 

     
     

 

HUSTISYA (Victims of Arroyo Regime United for Justice)
NEWS RELEASE
July 20, 2010

Reference: Evangeline Hernandez, Spokesperson and Convenor (09158562151)

On P-Noy’s 1st SONA
Victims to Aquino: We demand a no less than ‘straightforward’ action for justice and an end to killings

Families and victims of human rights violations under the banner of Hustisya (Victims of Arroyo Regime United for Justice) will join various sectors and people’s organizations in the SONA rally on Monday, as they continuously call for justice and an end to extrajudicial killings.

According to Evangeline Hernandez, Hustisya convenor and spokesperson, “If Pres. Noynoy Aquino will truly be ‘straightforward’ in his first SONA according to Malacañang, we demand no less than a straightforward solution to end extrajudicial killings,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez is the mother of slain activist and human rights worker Benjaline Hernandez, who was massacred together with three other human rights workers by military forces in Mindanao while on a fact-finding mission in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato in 2002. Benjaline was also member of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines.

Dismantle OBL

To do this, according to Hustisya, the Aquino administration should immediately dismantle Oplan Bantay Laya, and all mechanisms that legitimized the killing of 1,206 individuals and the abductions and enforced disappearance of 206 victims.

“Until Oplan Bantay Laya is junked and not another counter-insurgency program is implemented, we have yet to see that extrajudicial killings are not a policy of the Aquino administration,” Hernandez explained.

Under Arroyo’s OBL, state forces did not make any distinction between armed and unarmed civilians. “For the victims’ families, the OBL haunts like a nightmare of the bloody record of Arroyo. We do not want to wake up from the same nightmare, with not a single string of justice given to the victims,” Hernandez said.

Hustisya also called for justice for the recent spate of killings since Aquino took oath, and reminded him not to make hasty remarks on the recent spate of killings, based on the Philippine National Police’s reports that such killings arouse from “personal conflicts.”

“Please show a little sensitivity especially for the victims’ families. If Aquino is truly sincere and serious in solving the killings, the least person to make such remarks is himself,” Hernandez said.

Over the past two weeks since Aquino took oath as president, there have been three cases of extrajudicial killings in different provinces. Killed were Bayan Muna provincial coordinator in Aklan Fernando Baldomero, peasant leader Pascual Guevarra of Nueva Ecija and ACT Teacher’s Partylist member Mark Francisco in Masbate. ###

 

     
           
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LAND REFORM AND NATIONAL DEMOCRACY

(Speech delivered in Pilipino before the first Central Luzon Regional Conference of Kabataang Makabayan, at Republic Central Colleges, Angeles City, on October 31, 1965; and in English at the College of Agriculture, University of the Philippines, Los Ba¤os, Laguna on March 23, 1966.)

The Colonial Question and the Agrarian Question

AT THE PRESENT STAGE of our national history, the single immediate purpose to which our people are committed is the acievement of national democracy. On this single purpose, all are agreed, irrespective of social class, unless one belongs to a class aggrandized by the perpetuation of semi-colonial and semi- feudal conditions in our society. Unless one is a landlord or a comprador, one aspires to have his nation free from colonial and imperialist exploitation. Every patriotic Filipino wishes to liquidate imperialism and feudalism simultaneously in order to achieve national democracy.

The relation between national democracy and land reform is very clear. We can achieve genuine land reform only if we, as a nation, are free from colonial and imperialist domination. In fighting for national democracy against U.S. imperialism and feudalism today, we need to unite the peasantry - the most numerous class in our society - on the side of all other patriotic classes and we need to unite with the peasantry, as the main force or backbone of our national unity and anti-imperialist struggle.

The peasantry will join the anti-imperialist movement only if it is convinced that the movement can bring about a state capable of carrying out land reform. In his long struggle for social justice, the Filipino peasant has learned that there must first be a decisive change in the character of the state, brought about largely and fundamentally by the worker-peasant alliance. He has learned the lesson a long time ago that before democratic reforms can be completely effected the national state must be secured from imperialist control and must be firmed up by the overwhelming support of the peasantry and the working class, whose alliance is far more reliable and more qualitatively powerful than that peasant-ilustrado combination which became frustrated by U.S. imperialism at the start of this century.

If we study closely the early development of the national- democractic movement, we can see its profound basis in the agrarian situation in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era. The demand for political freedom became a valid demand to the masses only when they realized that a national state, their own popular sovereignty, could protect them against the exploitative colonial power which could only benefit the colonizers and their local agents. The Philippine revolution of 1896 took full form only after the peasantry became mobilized into a powerful national liberation movement against colonialism and serfdom. The peasantry provided the mass support for the Philippine revolutionary government and fought the most intense patriotic war against colonial authority, especially in those areas where the contradiction between the peasant and the landlord was most intense. Colonial domination meant feudalism. It had to be overthrown by the armed might of the peasantry.

If we study assiduously the writings and experience of the old national democratic heroes, we cannot help but find the insistent line that the lack of political freedom of a nation is based upon economic exploitation and control by an alien power. In the case of the Filipino people, during the Spanish era, the theocratic unity of church and state and the lack of national and individual freedom were based upon the feudal economic order and upon the mutual landlordism of lay and ecclesiastical authorities.

In Dr. Jose Rizal's El Filibusterismo, you will note how the story of Cabesang Tales cries out for a nation-state capable of protecting its own citizens against foreign exploiters. The story of Cabesang Tales is no different from the lives of our peasant brothers today. He is a victim of excessive land rent, usury, servitude, extortion, insecurity from both lawless elements and legal authorities, ignorance of laws made by landlords for their own benefit, and even of his own industry which only attracts more exploitation from the exploiters. His daughter, Huli, is sacrificed to the unjust circumstances that afflict her father's goodwill as she falls prey to the pious hypocrisies of usurious do gooders and the local curate who would even violate her virginal virtues as she seeks his fatherly assistance. On the other hand, while her family suffers all these difficulties, her brother is conscripted into the colonial army - in the same way that our youth today are conscripted into the U.S. controlled military machinery - to fight peasants that are in revolt in other islands and in neighboring countries. As the unkindest cut of all to her family, Tano her brother - now called Carolino after his share of fighting for Spanish colonialism against the rebellions natives in the Carolines - would find himself in his own country to hunt down a so-called bandit called Matanglawin, his own father who has turned into a peasant rebel leading multitudes of those who had been dispossessed of their land.

In an ironic situation where the peasant conscripts must fight their own peasant brothers upon the orders of a foreign power, when the mercenaries must face mountains and mountains of guerrillas, Carolino shoots down his own grandfather, the docile and overpatient old peasant who has always advised Cabesang Tales, his aggrieved son, never to respond to the provocations of the powerful. Old as he is, representing several generations of peasant oppression and patience, he has finally become a peasant fighter after the brutal death of his dear granddaughter only to be shot down in an objective act of colonial reaction by his own unwitting grandson. It is too late when Tano or Carolino realizes it is his own grandfather he has shot, unwittingly betraying his own family and his own class. Such is the ironic situation into which many of our peasant brothers are drawn when they enlist in the military, follow the orders of U.S. trained officers, use U.S. arms, be guided by U.S.
intelligence, ideology and advice, and allow themselves to be used against their own peasant brothers in other towns or provinces in our own country, or in foreign countries where they are used by U.S. imperialism to fight peasants who are fighting for their national freedom, as in many countries of Southeast Asia today.

The story of the peasant rebel, Matanglawin, has its basis in the life of Dr. Jose Rizal. As a young man and as a leader of his people, he showed courage in exposing the exploitative practices of the friar landlords and drew up a petition seeking redress which was signed by the tenants, leaseholders and leading citizens of Calamba. What followed the petition came to be known as the Calamba Affair. Governor General Weyler surrounded the town of Calamba, burned the homes of the people, confiscated their animals and exiled the Filipino townleaders. The colonial logic of the Calamba Affair was pursued to the end, to the death and martyrdom of Rizal and to the outbreak of the Philippine revolution. The dialectics of history led to the polarization between the Filipino peasantry and the Spanish colonial authorities. What made Rizal unforgivable to the Spanish colonial authorities was his having exposed feudal exploitation to its very foundation.

Andres Bonifacio, the city worker feeling spontaneously the fraternal links between his nascent class and the long- standing class of the peasantry, expressed in fiery revolutionary language the peasant protest against feudalism in his poem Katapusang Hibik ng Pilipinas:

Ang lupa at bahay na tinatahanan, Bukid at tubigang kalawak-lawakan, Sa paring kastila'y binubuwisan... Ikaw nga, Inang pabaya't sukaban Kami'y di na iyo saan man humanggan. Ihanda mo, Ina, ang paglilibingan Sa mawawakwak na maraming bangkay.

Bonifacio's call for revolt against feudal exploitation had been prepared by a long series of peasant struggles covering hundreds of years before him. Only after having waged a long series of sporadic and uncoordinated rebellions did the Filipino peasant realize that it took a well-organized and a conscious nation of peasants working as a single massive force to successfully attack feudal power and achieve the formation of a nation-state. Note clearly in the revolutionary poem of Bonifacio that the denunciation of feudal exploitation goes with his call for armed struggle against the colonial power.

Apolinario Mabini, in his Ordenanzas de la Revolucion, a collection of directives for the successful conduct of the revolution, expressed in clear terms the abolition of feudalism as a national objective:

Rule 21. All usurpations of properties made by the Spanish government and the religious corporations will not be recognized by the revolution, this being a movement representing the aspirations of the Filipino people, true owners of the above properties.

The Philippine revolution of 1896 could have been the instrument of the peasant masses for redeeming the lands taken away from them by their feudal exploiters through more than 300 years of colonial rule.

U.S. Imperialism: Enemy of the Filipino Peasantry

When U.S. military intervention and aggression came in 1898 to mislead and subsequently crush the Philippine revolution in the Filipino-American war of 1899-1902, the main revolutionary objectives of establishing a free nation-state and of achieving land reform was crushed. In order to succeed in its reactionary venture, U.S. imperialism snuffed out the lives of more than 250 thousand combatant and non- combatant peasants. They did to our people, largely to our peasant masses, what they are now directly doing again to the people of Vietnam with the same purpose of frustrating a revolutionary nation and its collective desire for democratic reforms, particularly land reform.

In order to stabilize its imperialist rule in the Philippines, the U.S. government sought the collaboration of the old ruling class in the previous colonial regime. It returned to the friars and their lay collaborators their landed estates which had been confiscated from them, and offered to the landlord class as a whole the privilege of sharing the spoils of a new colonial administration and of participating in a new pattern of commercial relations, that is, one between a capitalist metropolis and a colony. The new dispensation of U.S. imperialism required the Philippines to be a producer of raw materials for U.S. capitalist industries and a purchaser of surplus U.S. manufactures.

As a result of the continuous struggle of the peasant masses against U.S. imperialism even after 1902, when all the Filipino landlord and ilustrado elements had already accepted U.S. sovereignty and were already collaborating with the new colonial masters, the U.S. colonial administration went through the motion of buying friar estates for the purpose of dividing and redistributing them to tenants. However, no change in the agrarian situation could really be effected. The tenants were in no position to pay the high land prices, the high interest rates and the onerous taxes. The complicated land title system confounded them and allowed more smart government officials and private individuals to grab lands. The lack of governmental measures of assistance brought about the wholesale loss of holdings of tenants who did acquire them. Huge tracts of land became alienated into the hands of U.S. corporations and individual carpetbaggers incontravention of laws introduced by the U.S. regime itself. Filipino landlords and renegades of the Philippine revolution were given more lands as a reward for their collaboration and were allowed to gobble up small landholding both legally and illegally.

U.S. imperialism had planned that large haciendas would still remain in the hands of the landlords in order that sugar, copra, hem, tobacco and other raw agricultural products would be immediately exchanged in bulk with U.S. surplus manufactures through the agency of what we now call the compradors. Today, if you wish to have a clear idea of compradors, observe the comprador-landlords, under the leadership of Alfredo Montelibano in the Camber of Agriculture and Natural Resources, who are benefitted by the neocolonial trade between the Philippines and the United States and who are now maneuvering the perpetuation of parity rights and preferential trade.

According to the MacMillan-Rivera report, nineteen per cent of the farms in the Philippines were operated by tenants or share-croppers at the beginning of the U.S. colonial regime. By 1918, after the supposed division and redistribution of the friar estates and after a large increase in total farms through the opening of public lands, tenancy had risen to 22 per cent. In the 1930's, as the peasantry became more dispossessed and poorer, tenancy further rose to 36 per cent. The pretended grant of independence by the United States, far from reversing the trend of peasant pauperization, increased it and exposed the emptiness of such a bogus grant. By the late 1950's the tenancy rate rose to 40 per cent.

According to figures issued by the reactionary government, tenancy in the Philippines embraced eight million out of 27 million Filipinos in 1963. In Central Luzon, 65.87 per cent of all farms were tenant operated, and in the province of Pampanga it was 88 per cent - the highest rate for all provinces in the country. This did not yet include an equal number of the wholly landless agricultural workers who subsisted under onerous contract labor conditions on sugar haciendas, coconut plantations and elsewhere. The displaced tenants and the irregular, seasonal agricultural workers - the sacadas - are also a part of the hapless poor peasantry.

Political Unity of the Peasantry and the Working Class

Within a decade after the ruthless suppression of the last guerrilla remnants of the First Philippine Republic, the worsened conditions of the peasantry in our barrios gave rise to spontaneous revolts and also produced peasant mass protest organizations. These unified in 1922 in the Confedaracion de Apareceros y Obreros Agricolas de Filipinas, which was broadened and renamed two years later as Kalipunang Pambansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KPMP). The KPMP not only demanded agrarian reforms but also called for national independence in the same way the Katipunan of Bonifacio did. In 1930, the leaders of this peasant organization consequently united with the Katipunan ng mga Anak Pawis ng Pilipinas for the purpose of creating a worker-peasant political alliance under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines marked a qualitative change in the status and thinking of the working class and a strategic portion of the peasantry. It made these two classes more capable of conducting their own class struggle and the national struggle. They challenged the liberal democratic pretensions of U.S. imperialism and its local agents.

So long as U.S. imperialism held the reins of power in the Philippines, however, the Filipino peasantry could not raise themselves from their exploited condition. The more they manifested strength and progressive consciousness, the more they became subjected to military and police suppression unleashed by the U.S. imperialist regime. And yet, in that period, the peasant mass organizations were led into reformist activities exclusively and seemingly directed at the landlords and the trade union movement directed its main blow at the bourgeoisie "in general". It is true that the working class party was aware of the popular outcry for national independence, but it failed to develop the corresponding national democratic strategy. It failed to deliver powerful blows at U.S. imperialism to expose it thoroughly and mass the forces of the nation against it. Instead, it was the puppet politicians and even the Sakdalistas who seemed to have perceived more clearly the main contradiction and the main demand and they tried to pursue the same objective of sabotaging the national democratic movement into two disparate ways. The puppet politicians took the way of begging for independence from U.S. imperialism. The Sakdalistas took the way of anarchism.

U.S. imperialism, together with its landlord-comprador cohorts, was certain of its main enemy. A few months after the formal alliance of the KPMP and the KAP, the Communist Party of the Philippines was immediately outlawed; thus, it was deprived of its democratic rights.

The outlawing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, nevertheless, could not conceal the reality of peasant oppression during the direct colonial rule of the United States. In 1931, a local peasant revolt occurred in Tayug, Pangasinan. A bigger armed uprising of armed peasants occurred in 1936 in the towns of Cabuyao and Sta. Rosa, Laguna led by the Sakdal. These peasant revolts were continuing manifestations of the unbearable exploitation of the peasantry and were at the same time the critical effects of the U.S. capitalist depression in the 1930's.

The bitterest agrarian unrest in the 1930's occurred in Pampanga where the Socialist Party and its peasant union, Aguman ding Maldang Talapagobra, militantly fought the landlords and stood their ground against the civilian guards and the Philippine Constabulary. The Socialist Party led the peasants and agricultural workers in the open until anti-communist repression was eased as a result of the Popular Front tactics and the Communist Party of the Philippines allowed to surface to add its force to the worldwide anti-fascist struggle. The "social justice" program of President Quezon was articulated only as a concession to the vigorous demand of the peasantry for agrarian reform.

When World War II broke out, the dislodgement of U.S. imperialism from the Philippines and the emergence of anti- Japanese resistance became the condition for the success of the peasant movement in Central Luzon and Southern Luzon to effect land reform among themselves on the land abandoned by the landlords. Throughout the country, landlord power was generally weakened as its normal lines of control were broken by the conditions of war.

The Japanese imperialists were resisted by armed peasant masses. Where resistance was most successful, the peasant masses were able to use the land abandoned by the landlords to their social advantage. The resistance against Japanese imperialism served as a means for the peasants to assert their power over the land. The armed struggle gave them the power to eliminate the control and influence of the landlords over their land. Many landlords decided to collaborate with the Japanese imperialists. This occasion should have been an opportunity for the entire peasantry to learn that landlordism seeks protection in the bigger power of imperialism, whether American or Japanese. It was indeed, unfortunate that while they were warding off the excesses and brutality of the newly-come imperialists, they became distracted from the similar nature of U.S. imperialism whose radio broadcasts were blatantly announcing its desire to re-take the Philippines and whose motley agents were already scattered throughout the archipelago to keep USAFFE guerrillas waiting for MacArthur. The anti- fascist struggle could have been converted into a struggle against imperialism, both Japanese and American. The cadres of the peasant movement could have exposed the inter- imperialist aspect of the U.S.-Japanese war and alerted the peasantry to the return of U.S. imperialism. They could have spread out throughout the country and developed a reliable anti-imperialist guerrilla movement independent of the U.S. directed and U.S. controlled USAFFE. At any rate, through constant struggles against Japanese fascism and its landlord collaborators, the peasantry built up and supported a powerful national liberation army which delivered the most effective blows against the Japanese imperial army in the strategic areas of Central Luzon and Southern Luzon. These areas are strategic because they envelop Manila.

The Return of U.S. Imperialism and Landlordism

When the U.S. imperialists returned in 1945, they immediately attempted to re-install the landlords in all parts of the archipelago, particularly in Central Luzon and Southern Luzon, where they went to the extent of arresting, imprisoning, coercing and liquidating the peasant leaders and their comrades. They trusted the landlords, including those who collaborated with the fascist invaders, as their true allies and they were extremely distrustful of peasant guerrillas who were independent of the U.S. controlled USAFFE. Not only the Hukbalahap became the object of U.S. discrimination and abuse after the war but also the independent guerrilla units, of which the exemplary unit of Tomas Confesor in the Visayas was typical. Post-war benefits and backpay went in bulk to prop up the recognized hero- puppets of U.S. imperialism.

Depending on the intelligence provided by the USAFFE, the Counter-Intelligence Corps and the landlords, the U.S. imperialists gave instructions to the Military Police and the Civilian Guards to attack the peasant masses and apprehend their leaders who had valiantly resisted the Japanese imperialists.

An entire squadron of anti-Japanese peasant fighters which accompanied the so-called U.S. liberators from Central Luzon to Manila was disarmed in Manila, driven off on their bare feet and massacred in Bulacan by the Military Police under secret imperialist orders. Peasant leaders were thrown into the same prisons where pro-Japanese puppets were kept. No less than the national chairman of the Pambansang Kaisahan ng Magbubukid was murdered while he was under the protective custody of the Military police and while he was campaigning for "democratic peace" in the countryside. Eight members of Congress who ran under the Democratic Alliance and who were elected by the overwhelming votes of the organized and class-conscious peasantry were forcibly removed from Congress. all these provocations, which preceded the outbreak of full-scale guerrilla warfare were conducted by U.S. imperialism to clear the way for the complete return of imperialist-landlord control of the Philippines. All these provocations led ultimately to the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and the unwarranted murder and imprisonment of peasants and their leaders and the anti-democratic crackdown on the Communist Party of the Philippines and such mass organizations as the Pambansang kaisahan ng mga Magbubukid.

After the expulsion of the peasant-supported Democratic Alliance members of the Congress in an all-out abuse of democracy, the Bell Trade Act and the Parity Amendment were ratified, formalizing the re-establishment of the imperialist-landlord pattern of trade, free-trade so-called, and the parity rights for U.S. citizens and corporations in the exploitation of our natural resources and the operation of public utilities.

U.S. imperialism, by unilateral choice, retained its military bases at twenty-three strategic points all over the archipelago, maintained the privilege of expanding them and of moving its troops from there, and employed them to exercise coercive influence on the peasantry and the entire Filipino people. Subsequently, the U.S.-R.P. Military Assistance Pact formally sanctioned the subordination of our military to U.S. military officers in the JUSMAG and to the entire system of U.S. military bases, supplies, planning and advice. In our civil service, U.S. advisers continued to control and direct the most strategic offices. In short, U.S. imperialism retained strategic control over the coercive paraphernalia of the Philippine puppet state and over the economic foundation and civil appurtenances of daily political life.

As the landlords and the imperialists cooperated to their mutual advantage in attacking the peasant masses, the latter were compelled to fight back in order to defend their national and democratic rights. There result of the peasant struggle between the years 1946 to 1952 you already know, it is recent history and there are no better sources of information on this struggle than the veteran peasant guerrilla fighters themselves.

At the height of its world power, U.S. imperialism massed its forces against the organized peasantry in order to paralyze the backbone of the Filipino nation and make its anti-national and anti-democratic impositions. In order to suppress the organized and class-conscious peasantry, the puppet agencies of U.S. imperialism recruited its troops from the peasantry only to use them against their own brothers in other barrios and towns. Thus, the story of Cabesang Tales and his son Tano or Carolino, was again repeated in the ceaseless struggle of the peasantry.

The leadership of the revolutionary mass movement had emerged from the war politically unprepared to expose and fight the return of U.S. imperialism, which was the only power which could under the circumstances effectively help the landlords to retrieve their lands from the patriotic peasants of Central Luzon and Southern Luzon. Instead of exposing and fighting the reactionary alliance between the landlords and the newly-returned U.S. imperialists who masterminded and gave full arms support to the Military Police and the civilian guards, the peasant movement accused the landlords only as pro-Japanese collaborators and failed to direct immediately the main blow against U.S. imperialism. The leadership of the revolutionary mass movement did not expose promptly the fact that the landlords who had been pro-Japanese collaborators became pro-U.S. collaborators. The delay in the exposure of U.S. imperialism, since before the war, as the leading enemy of the Filipino people and the
peasantry gave both the U.S. imperialists and the landlords the time to consolidate their positions.

The reactionary triumph of U.S. imperialism and feudalism has prolonged the suffering and exploitation of the peasant masses. Our peasant masses continue to suffer from the unfair distribution of land and the exploitative relations between tenant and landlord, unfair sharing of the crop, usury, landlord-controlled rural banks and cooperatives, profiteering middlemen, lack of price support, lack or high cost of fertilizers, irrigation and agricultural machines, inadequacy of extension work and scientific information and the deplorable conditions of the peasant in health, housing, nourishment and education. All of these difficulties and misfortunes are those of the entire nation, our agrarian nation whose numerically dominant class is the peasantry embracing more than 70 per cent of our population. The specter of feudalism haunts us to this day and substantially determines the colonial character of our economy.

With the collaboration of U.S. imperialists and Filipino landlords in full swing, we observe that the supremacy of a ruling elite in this country combines the character of imperialism and feudalism. We observe the local supremacy of the comprador-landlord class which is the most benefitted by the strategic U.S. control of our national economy and foreign trade. The owners of the sugar, coconut, abaca and other export-crop plantations have been the most benefitted from that colonial pattern of trade between our raw material exports and manufacture imports from the United States and other capitalist countries.

It was the military power of U.S. imperialism which prevailed over the peasantry in the absence of a prompt anti-imperialist and anti-feudal strategy developed by a peasant-mobilizing party. However, the myth that Ramon Magsaysay "saved democracy" has been created by U.S. imperialist propaganda. While Magsaysay was a successful propaganda weapon of U.S. imperialism and while he was able to confuse even some peasant leaders, it is clear beyond doubt now that he was responsible for the all-out abuse of democracy directed mainly against the peasantry, for thwarting the solution of the land problem by the peasant masses themselves, for the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and for the brutalities of the sona, village bombardments, mass detainments and murders.

The imperialist version of land reform for which Magsaysay was glorified during his time has gone completely bankrupt. The land resettlement program intended supposedly for the benefit of the landless has only prolonged the life of feudalism in the Philippines. Landlords have taken over far vaster tracts of land in those areas of resettlement and in too many cases, they have even put into question the titles of small settlers. The program of expropriating big landholding for redistribution to the landless has only been used by the landlords to dispose of their barren and useless lands at an overprice to the government. The Magsaysay land reform, conducted by the Land Tenure Administration and the NARRA, have failed to improve the condition of the peasantry as the rate of tenancy has risen far beyond 40 per cent. The credit system of the ACCFA and the system of FACOMA's have failed to help the tenants and the small farmers and have only been manipulated by the landlords and corrupt bureaucrats for their selfish interests. Agricultural extension workers from the Bureau of Agricultural Extension have always been inadequate.

As the imperialist-landlord combination ruled over the country in the 1950's by force of its state power, the reform measures and palliative proved ineffective in alleviating the condition of the peasantry or in whipping up false illusion. Imperialist and clerical organizations like the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and the Federation of Free Farmers also proved ineffective even as propaganda instruments among the peasantry, especially among those who had experienced genuine peasant power.

If the old palliative become totally useless, an exploiting ruling class looks for new and seemingly better ones. The exposure of the true nature of palliative is too risky for the ruling class. it must adopt new palliative designed to meet a possible resurgence of its suppressed adversary. Even as the class conscious and progressive peasant movement has been quite suppressed since the middle of the fifties, the ruling classes never discounts the possibility of an antagonistic resurgence of a peasantry left with no quarters. So, it must make certain concessions even only on paper. Thus, the Agricultural Land Reform Code has been proposed and passed. At the same time a new scheme of "civic action" in the countryside, directed by the JUSMAG and the "counter-insurgency" adviser, has been laid out. This "civic action" in the rural areas is to be coupled with the rural development campaign of the most numerous church.

New Conditions and the Danger of Yankee Monopolization

New conditions have developed making it necessary for U.S. imperialism to exercise direct control of Philippine agriculture. U.S. imperialism is now trying to plant its roots in Philippine agriculture and complete its control of our agrarian economy in the face of the impending termination and renegotiation of the Laurel-Langley Agreement and Parity Amendment. The policy planners of U.S. imperialism are applying the same tricks they applied on Cuba in the face of and after the dissolution of the Platt Amendment - the Cuban version of our Parity Amendment. In other words, the U.S. imperialists want to preempt the negotiation table by deepening their control of our agrarian economy now. They want to continue parity rights even after the formal termination of the Laurel-Langley Agreement.

The present world condition, especially in Southeast Asia, is forcing U.S. imperialism to prepare the Philippines as a growing ground for agricultural products that it uses directly or are used by Japan, its co-imperialist in the Far-East. The Philippines is now being prepared as a reagent in a U.S. controlled U.S.-Japan axis antagonistic to the anti-imperialist peoples of Asia. If you investigate now the U.S. agro-corporations or the Japanese agro- corporations wanting to develop Philippine agriculture, you will notice how all are commanded by the U.S. cartels and finance institutions, especially the Rockefeller monopoly group.

It is certain that the Agricultural Land Reform Code is directed, in its original form as well as in its present form against old-style landlordism. Has this code in its original version been passed, the statutory retention limit of 25 hectares for landowners who refuse to mechanize and the provisions imposing heavy taxes on undeveloped lands would have severely weakened old-style landlordism. Landlords would have come under greater legal compulsion to mechanize or sell out to those who have capital to mechanize or just cheat the law by delaying it and sabotaging it through a corrupt bureaucracy.

The sham liquidation of old-style landlordism is progressive on first impression. But if the vast lands will only be retained or expanded in the hands of those individuals and agro-corporations which have the necessary capital to mechanize, then we will only be developing a new type of feudalism, only in certain parts of the country, and the peasant masses, particularly the landless tenants, would not be benefitted at all. The condition of the peasant masses would only be aggravated by land monopolization conducted by private agro-corporations and individual capitalists. Some tenants would be converted into agricultural workers, others would be displaced and thrown out of the farm by the process of mechanization and modern business organization. The small landowners, in due time, would be forced into bankruptcy because of higher production costs per hectare and would not be able to compete with the large plantations which maintain more economic operations. Even the rich peasants who produce more than enough for their households to be able to sell in the market would be eventually eased out by lower prices of crops produced by the modern plantations. A modern plantation economy in the Philippines will convert a relatively few Filipino peasants into wage- earners but will displace many more tenants whom it will not be able to employ promptly and in sufficient number in industrial centers made even more efficient by automation. An efficient plantation economy in the philippines will become more of an appendage to foreign monopoly capitalism. The Philippines will be farther from an even and well- proportioned industrial development.

Since only U.S. firms are now in a financial position in the Philippines to invest in Philippine agriculture, as our own Filipino industrialists are themselves credit-starved (now much more in the case of old-style landlords!) because of decontrol and other restrictive conditions, the process of land monopolization would become more detrimental to the entire Filipino people. The super-profits to be derived from these enterprises would be continuously repatriated and unemployment would increase faster. U.S. firms and subsidiaries are even under instruction now by the U.S. government to prevent the outflow of dollars from the United States by getting credit from local sources in the Philippines. It is a widely perceived fact that U.S. projects and so-called joint ventures are utilizing the resources of such institutions as GSIS, SSS, DBP and others, thus depriving the Filipino investors themselves of much- needed credit. Modern landlordism under the control of Esso, Dole, United
Fruit, Philippine Packing Corporation, Goodyear, Firestone and other U.S. monopoly firms which have had the experience of ravaging Latin America is no better than the old types of landlordism.

At the present moment, we can already see how vast tracts of land have been alienated from our national patrimony by giant U.S. firms under so-called "grower" or "planting" agreements with government corporations like the National Development Company and the Mindanao Development Authority. Despite the constitutional limitation that no private corporations shall hold more than 1,024 hectares, the Philippine Packing Corporation and the Dole Corporation have separately taken hold of 8,195 hectares and 5,569 hectares respectively through a "grower" agreement with the National Development Company and they are supposed to hold on to these lands, with option to expand at any time, for long stretches of periods well beyond this generation and beyond 1974 when parity rights will have terminated.

The United Fruit deal involving the alienation of 10,000 hectares of highly developed public lands and the project to segregate 50,000 hectares of the Mt. Apo National Park Reservation for delivery to U.S. firms through the NDC during the Macapagal administration are convincing manifestations of a new plan U.S. imperialism has for the Philippines.

The Dole take-over of 5,569 hectares of homestead lands in Cotabato is a clear negation of the owner-cultivatorship objective of the Agricultural Land Reform Code. This particular takeover for pineapple plantation and other commercial crops has adversely affected rice production in Cotabato by reducing severely the area devoted to rice.

That U.S. imperialism is literally planting itself in Philippine soil is very evident in several other moves, which were definitely made after decontrol and the approval of the five-year socio-economic program of Macapagal. Means for higher productivity in agriculture have been set up confidently by U.S. firms. Esso has put up a $30 million fertilizer plant which maintains a strategic role. International Harvester, including Japanese farm machinery firms, are also optimistic that they will provide the implements and machines for large-scale farms. In the long run, these modern means for higher productivity can rise in price in such a way that the big plantations, because they buy them in bulk and use them more economically and profitably, will squeeze out the owner-cultivators from the field of production and marketing. Control and ownership of fertilizer production alone provides U.S. imperialism a powerful leverage with which to squeeze out the leaseholders, the
owner-cultivators and even the rich peasants.

The U.S. government has conveniently made use of the World Bank to encourage agricultural education in order to provide the necessary technical support for U.S. plantations. The tested U.S. marionette, Carlos P. Romulo, was reassigned to the University of the Philippines in order to pay special attention to the receipt of $6.0 million loan from the World Bank for Los Ba¤os and the procurement of P21 million from the Philippine Congress as counterpart fund. Romulo's field of operation has been expanded by the Marcos administration in apparent concession to U.S. imperialism, by making him secretary of education. Twenty-three million dollars of the belated $73 million in war damage payments is about to be rolled out to sustain a land reform education program to be controlled directly by the U.S. government in accordance with the Johnson-Macapagal communique of 1964. This amount is expected by the reactionaries to subvert the revolutionary peasant movement. At the moment, there is a
splurge of U.S. activity in the countryside through a multifarious array of agencies such as AID, PACD, Freedom Fighters, Peace Corps, World Neighbors, Esso, PRRM, CDRC, CAP, AGR, COAR, ACCI, FHD, IRRI, Operations Brotherhood, CARE, DND and Special Forces, which are directly controlled by the U.S. embassy through JUSMAG and the "counter- insurgency" adviser.

Also, improvement of U.S. military bases in the South cannot but mean securing Mindanao for U.S. agro-corporations. Within the Dole plantation area, underground missile launchers are supposed to have been set up. These are bases apparently prepared to strengthen U.S. aggression in Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, they can very well serve to protect U.S. agro-corporation producing crops that the United States may in the near future never be able to get from neighboring countries because of the rise of anti- imperialist movements in the region. It is highly significant that large rubber plantations are being prepared in Mindanao today. Aside from serving the needs of U.S. imperialism, technical crops are also intended to serve the needs of Japan.

The narrow foreign policy of the Philippines, which has been chiefly geared to the so-called special relations with the United States, is expected to trap land reform in the vise of U.S. agro-corporations and of U.S. global economic policy in general. The obvious lack of funds in the National Treasury has been used as an occasion to call for "land reform" loans from U.S.-controlled financing institutions like the World Bank, AID, IMF, and others. The Land Bank and the Agricultural Credit Association are bound to be controlled by the U.S. finance system.

U.S. imperialism, by virtue of its long-standing over-all strategic control over the Philippine economy, has already strengthened its hold over control points in Philippine agriculture.

The Agricultural Land Reform Code

The Agricultural Land Reform Code claims to seek the abolition of tenancy and the establishment of owner- cultivatorship as the basis of Philippine agriculture. It is supposed to help the small farmers, especially those with economic family-size farms, to be free from pernicious institutional restraints and practices to build a viable social and economic structure in agriculture conducive to greater productivity and higher farm income. Aside from expropriation and land redistribution, land resettlement and public land distribution are also proposed by the code. A whole chapter of the code is devoted to provisions guaranteeing the application of all labor laws equally to both industrial and agricultural wage-earners.

For the purpose of giving lands to the landless and to those who have less than enough for their respective families, a leasehold system is to be set up as the first step towards self-reliance. The National Land Reform Council, composed of the representatives of all land reform agencies and of the political party in the minority, is supposed to proclaim an area as a land reform area before its inhabitants can enjoy leasehold system wherein the tenant becomes a leaseholder paying only 25 per cent of the average of three previous annual harvests as rent to the landowner.

That only some Filipino tenants can enjoy the rent of 25 per cent upon the proclamation made by the National Land Reform Council is quite puzzling to those who are convinced that such rent may as well be paid in common by all tenants to landowners all over the country by general proclamation. This general proclamation should not even carry the pretentious claim that it abolishes tenancy and replaces it with the leasehold system. For after all, both terms "tenancy" and "leasehold system", although the former sounds more pejorative, means essentially the burden of paying rent.

The Code says that the National Land Reform Council can proclaim a land reform area only after it has considered the nature and possibilities of the proposed land reform area in accordance with priorities set by the code.

It is in the consideration of these priorities and other factors that land reform in favor of the peasant masses can be delayed indefinitely, derailed and sabotaged. It is in the consideration of these priorities that the bureaucrats in the land reform agencies will find more affinity with the landlord and imperialist interests which have plans opposed to those of the poor peasant on the same tract of land.

The very idea that the NLRC may proclaim a land reform area only where the leaseholders have a good chance of developing into owner-cultivators is obviously self-defeating and deceptive. Among the several factors that must be considered in the choice of a land reform area are its "suitability for economic family-size farmers", which is unfortunately defined by the code as a "situation where a parcel of land whose characteristics such as climate, soil, topography, availability of water and location, will support a farm family if operated in economic family-size farm units and does not include those where large-scale operations will result in greater production and more efficient use of the land". This matter of "suitability" is take into consideration even as the leaseholders can always petition the Land Authority to acquire the leaseholdings for redistribution to them.


On the question of suitability, before any proclamation is made by the NLRC in favor of prospective leaseholders and owner-cultivators, the landlord can easily preempt altogether the leasehold system and expropriation proceedings by asserting that large-scale operations by himself on his land will result in greater production and more efficient use. The question can be reduced to a question of legal definition pure and simple by the landlord, or he can actually start what may be termed as "large scale operations" on his land in order to prevent either the question of rent reduction or expropriation from being raised. What is absurd in this matter is that, among the things preempted by the landlord is the prospect of large-scale operations by cooperatives of owner- cultivators on the same tract of land.

To evade the leasehold system and possible expropriation proceedings, the landlord has simply to mechanize, to engage in "large scale" operations such as sugar planting, or to plant permanent trees like citrus, coconuts, cacao, coffee, durian, rubber and others. In Central Luzon and other parts of the country, the landlords are converting their rice lands into sugar lands. In the years to come, this will continue to deal a telling blow on our rice production. In Southern Luzon, those working in coconut, citrus, abaca and coffee lands as tenants are complaining and asking why they are not benefitted by land reform. Those who work on fishponds and saltbeds have the same complaint of not being within the purview of land reform.

To pursue the discussion as to how the landlord can evade expropriation, let us assume that the NLRC does unilaterally and successfully proclaim a certain area as land reform area. The Land Authority -- the implementing arm of the council -- will still have to subject its acquisitions to the following order of priorities: idle or abandoned lands; those whose area exceeds 1,024 hectares; those whose area range between 500 and 1,024 hectares; those whose area range between 144 and 500 hectares; those whose area range between 75 and 144 hectares. The Philippine government is obviously making a big joke by saying that it wishes to exhaust its financial resources on idle or abandoned lands which are in most cases too expensive to develop. The poor peasant cannot afford to develop such kind of land it is simply futile for the government to purchase this.

The statutory limit of 75 hectares that a landowner can retain is big enough to perpetuate landlordism in the Philippines. Besides, a landlord can easily retain many times more than this size so long as he has enough members of his family to distribute it. Another course of action for the landlord is to own land in many different places and keeping to the statutory limit of 75 hectares in each place. in the Agricultural Land Reform Code, there are no plugs to these loopholes.

The landlord has so many defenses to preempt the expropriation of his property. But, little is it realized that a landlord might actually offer to sell his land to the Land Authority. Because, according to the order of priorities, in the acquisition of lands by the Land Authority, idle or abandoned lands are to be purchased first. So long as the landlord can demand "just compensation" or even an overprice, he can always strike at a private bargain with the government appraiser. After getting the payment for his expropriated property, he can always acquire private lands elsewhere or public lands to perpetuate his class status. It can be said conclusively at this juncture that the Agricultural Land Reform Code allows the perpetuation of landlordism in the country. The landlords are not hindered but even encouraged to seize public lands already tilled by the national minorities and small settlers in frontier areas.

The ability of the Land Authority to relieve deep agrarian unrest and provide the landlords with "just compensation" would depend on the adequacy of funds in the Land Bank. It is already clear that the government is reluctant to make an actual release of funds to the Land Bank. The financial crisis of U.S. imperialism and all its running dogs is something to be seriously reckoned with. Even if funds of whatever enormity are to be released, these could be gobbled up by only a few landlords and bureaucrats. Past experience clearly shows that the latter are willing to part with. The result is that the landlords have more funds to acquire more lands and the poor peasant can never afford the redistribution price exacted by the government.

Except in the change of name, the Agricultural Credit Administration, is no different from its corrupt and inadequate predecessor, the ACCFA. The Commission on Agricultural Productivity is also nothing but a new name for the old Bureau of Agricultural Extension; it is nothing but an ill-manned and indolent bureaucratic agency of the Esfac. The landlords have always used these agencies more to their advantage than the poor peasants.

There will be more severe contradictions between the peasant masses and the landlord class. The contradictions will arise form the given conditions of these classes as well as from the interpretation of the Agricultural Land Reform Code. These contradictions are supposed to be resolved by the Court of Agrarian Relations if ever they become formal legal disputes. The Office of Agrarian Counsel is supposed to provide free legal assistance to individual peasants and peasant organizations. But judges and government lawyers are themselves landlords, landgrabbers and land speculators. Behind the facade of populist expressions, they support the landlord system.

It is relevant to cite the fact that when the Agricultural Land Reform Bill was being drafted in Malaca¤ang and discussed in Congress, there was no representative of the peasantry there -- particularly the poor peasantry -- who was conscious of the class interests of the peasantry and who would have fought for those class interests. What happened, therefore, in the absence of direct political representatives of the peasant masses, was that the political representatives of the landlords and the imperialists had all the chance to finalize the bill according to their class interest and provided themselves all the escape clauses.

The Agricultural Land Reform Code will not solve the land problem. As a matter of fact, it will only aggregate the dispossession of the peasantry and intensify unjust relations between the landlord class and the peasantry. The beautiful phrases in the code in favor of the landless are immediately nullified by provisions which in the realm of reality will be taken advantage of by the landlord class.

What Is To Be Done

For the activists of national democracy there is no substitute to going to the countryside and making concrete social investigation in order to determine the oppression and exploitation imposed on the peasantry by the landlord class.

There is no point in making a rural investigation if the facts learned from the masses are not analyzed and processed into terms for basic comprehension of problems as well as solutions. The activists of national democracy should show to the peasants, especially those who have no land at all and those who so not have enough land, the essence of their suffering and arouse them to solve their own problem.

In the present era only the peasant masses can liberate themselves provided they follow the correct leadership of the working class and its party. It is senseless to put trust in laws made by the landlords themselves no matter how gaudily they may wear the garments of bourgeois reformism.

The concrete step that can be immediately taken by the activists of national democracy is to organize peasant associations dedicated to fighting for the democratic rights of the peasantry. The present laws may be used to some extent but if they are not enough, as practice has borne out, then the peasant masses themselves will decide to take more effective measures, including armed revolution.

The activitists of national democracy who go to the countryside should exert all efforts to arouse and mobilize the peasant masses into breaking the chains that have bound them for centuries. Agrarian revolution provides the powerful base for the national democratic revolution.
 

 

▲  Photos courtesy of Tanggol Magsasaka  ▼

 

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano

and KMP Secretary General Danilo Ramos at the wake

     
     
     
     
     
Ronnel Viloria survived the armed attack
     
     
Interviews to gather facts
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
 
 
 
 
 
       
     
     
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