THE farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas on Sunday expressed disappointment over Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s statement saying he supports allowing foreigners to own 70 percent of land in the Philippines.
Rafael Mariano, KMP national chairman, said “farmers are dismayed with Duterte’s quick turnaround,” warning that “leasing land to foreigners renewable for 40 years would be worse than the current law allowing foreigners to lease land for 50 years and renewable for another 25 years.”
“In less than 12 hours in the presence of big businessmen, Duterte retracted what he himself said in front of peasant leaders and advocates. That was quick,” Mariano said.
On Feb. 3, Mariano met with Duterte during a peasants forum at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
Duterte expressed openness to genuine land reform and slammed the Aquino administration’s “sham” agrarian reform.
“Duterte’s 180-degree turn and other presidential wannabes’ dismissal of farmers’ demands clearly shows that the 2016 election is a political circus with candidates taking the Filipino people [for] a roller coaster ride,” Mariano said in a statement.
“The peasantry will continue to challenge all candidates on the demand for genuine land reform, the return of the multi-billion-peso coconut levy and free irrigation, among others.”
During the 29th year of the Mendiola massacre, the farmers’ group challenged Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Grace Poe and Duterte to distribute the Hacienda Luisita that belongs to President Benigno Aquino III and the Araneta estate owned by the relatives of administration bet Manuel Roxas II.
“We are challenging the three presidential front runners Binay, Poe and Duterte on the genuine distribution of Hacienda Luisita and other vast landholdings: the Araneta estate in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan and Rodriguez, Rizal, owned by the relatives of Roxas,” Mariano said.
He said the failure of the presidential candidates to declare and implement the genuine distribution of Hacienda Luisita and other plantations made them no different from the current haciendero government of Aquino.
“We challenge them to reverse the Department of Agrarian Reform’s fake distribution scheme that was designed to displace the farm workers and divide their ranks,” Mariano said.
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