Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 2, Number 33 September 22 - 28, 2002 Quezon City, Philippines
Owners, Property Developers Drive out Peasants from their Land
scrutiny of latest data on the situation of peasants makes one realize that the
government's prescriptions for development only translate to the perpetuation of
poverty in the countryside.
ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Despite government claims of success, the land reform program – begun by President Corazon Aquino more than 10 years ago – has been criticized for its land conversions and for allowing landlords to in fact further monopolize land ownership.
reports show that land use conversions persist, further eroding peasants’
claims to have a land of their own. This time, land conversions tend to be
colossal with big mall owners and property developers in the scramble.
of last June, land use conversion projects involving large tracts of land are
happening in Pampanga, Tarlac, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Aurora, and
Lakeshore project in Mexico, Pampanga aims to convert 253 hectares of farmland
into an industrial, commercial, residential, and recreational complex. As of
last June, 126 hectares (or close to 50% of the targeted land) are already
Beverly Place is the area for the conversion of 1,000 hectares of agricultural
land in Mexico and San Fernando, Pampanga into a commercial center. The SM and
Robinson malls currently occupy part of this land.
mothballed Pampanga Delta Development Project is not totally shelved by the
government and still threatens to submerge six towns in Pampanga and three in
list of land conversion cases in other areas is endless:
In Tarlac, thousands of peasants are in danger of being ejected from their lands
as the Clark Development Corporation plans to convert 100 hectares of
agricultural land into a dumpsite for the waste of multinational corporations
operating in the area;
In Barangay San Vicente, Sorobia, Tarlac, 1,000 peasants are forcibly evicted so
that their lands could be converted by Orchids World International into a flower
In Nueva Ecija, 3,000 hectares of agricultural land are claimed by landlord
Florencio Garcia in order to be converted;
In Bataan, there is a plan to convert 90 hectares of agricultural land into a
In Pangasinan, 1,000 hectares of agricultural land and peasant communities are
threatened by the construction of the San Roque Dam;
The "Green Circle" project threatens to affect 240,000 hectares of
agricultural and forest land from Dingalan, Aurora to Infanta, Quezon;
In Laguna and Batangas, peasants are being dispossessed by the illegal land use
conversion activities of the Ayala Land Corporation. These activities have
affected 197 hectares.
in the name of environment?
August, security forces from the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS)
and ABS-CBN's Bantay Kalikasan stormed a peasant community in Montalban, Rizal.
MWSS and Bantay Kalikasan are partners in the La Mesa Watershed project. The
peasants' houses were demolished and their crops uprooted.
report by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) also says that the security
forces went on a "looting spree."
for the landless?
her second State of the Nation Address last July, President Macapagal-Arroyo
said that 104,261 hectares have been distributed to 72,188 beneficiaries. Based
on past "accomplishments" of the Ramos and Estrada administrations,
however, her figure shows the lowest rate of private land distribution since
her policy pronouncements, Macapagal-Arroyo simply continues the implementation
of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) which stipulates several
exemptions that favor big landlords. These exemptions have aggravated land
grabbing and land use conversions resulting in the displacement of hundreds of
thousands of peasants.
improve the lot of peasants, Macapagal-Arroyo also promises to improve rice
production. But instead of doing so, she appears to be pushing the peasants into
abject poverty with rice importation. Rice importation is directly related to
the administration's agricultural liberalization policy.
the average farmgate price of palay or unhusked rice ranges from P8 to P8.50 per
kilo (or $0.15 to $0.16 based on a P52 per U.S. dollar exchange rate).
Production costs reach more than P7 per kilo ($0.13). The KMP estimates that
rice imports would pull farmgate prices down to P5 to P6 per kilo ($0.10 to
from these, peasants are plagued by the continuing increase in the prices of
petroleum products. Each peasant household, according to the KMP, consumes
"more than 200 liters of gasoline, diesel, kerosene and more than 10 liters
of oil in a one-hectare land alone during a whole cropping season."
further jack up the already high cost of agricultural production, while farmgate
prices of agricultural products remain low.
the policies and programs of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration are causing
further misery for peasants, who at 75% of the population are the largest basic
sector in Philippine society and should therefore be the primary beneficiaries
of government support.
data which clearly show the peasants’ unrewarding toil are concrete evidence
that the government's prescriptions for development only translate to the
perpetuation of poverty in the countryside. Bulatlat.com