BY ANNA KRISTINA P. VIRTUSIO
MANILA — Farmers’ groups trooped to the House of Representatives in Quezon City Tuesday to denounce the violent dispersal of their camp-out outside the south gate of the Batasan Pambansa Complex last Friday.
“We condemn the violent dismantling of our camp-out. Instead of legislating a genuine land reform program, they dispersed our ranks,” Danilo Ramos, secretary-general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), said in Filipino.
Ten people were injured as security forces of the House of Representatives dismantled the farmers’ camp-out last Friday. Members of the KMP, the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK), the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Amihan and Anakpawis party-list had been camping out at the House of Representatives since April 13.
“We have seen how violent and anti-farmer the House leadership is,” Fernando Hicap, chairman of Pamalakaya.
During the protest, security forces prevented the groups from entering the House of Representatives.
The groups reiterated their call for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 3059. It seeks to distribute lands for free as opposed to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER).
The farmers’ groups said that the administration does not genuinely seek for food security by not implementing land reform and by ignoring the rights and welfare of farmers.
“You cannot blame us if we do not believe in CARP anymore. CARP is an instrument of deception of landlords,” a farmer from Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac said during the protest.
After the protest, priests from the Order of Carmelites celebrated a mass. “The Congress is not the house of freedom fighters anymore. It has already become a house of landlords,” said Father Tim Husayan, commissary-general of the order. He also said that their order extended support to the farmers to follow the example of Elijah, their founder, who helped oppressed farmers himself.
A solidarity night with the farmers followed suit at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
Despite the dispersal last Friday, the farmers’ groups plan to rebuild their camp outside the House of Representatives, which they said was a “legitimate and democratic move.”
Guillermo Bautista, Kasama-TK chairman, said they are “determined to go back to Congress, we will attend the next hearing on GARB on June 3.”
“We will not back off,” KMP’s Ramos said. (Bulatlat.com)