Philippines: US corporations gobbling up farmers’ land in Mindanao

Banana farming in Mindanao

Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA-The island wide leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Mindanao assailed American corporations engaged in agribusiness and production of export crops of gobbling up agricultural lands in the second largest island in the country at the expense of Filipino land tillers.

In a press statement sent to various foreign and local media based in Manila, a copy of which was also sent to www,, NDFP-Mindanao spokesperson Jorge Madlos said Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III has opened the island’s vast expanse of land for agribusiness, plantations, destructive logging and large-scalee mining operations that led to perpetual and intensifying land grabbing across the island.

Madlos said the unbridled land grabbing by US and other foreign companies resulted in the displacement of countless peasants and peasant-workers. “It is no surprise that the US imperialist anointed Aquino as the president in a pre-programmed automated election,” the NDFP-Mindanao official said.

In Southern Mindanao, Madlos revealed capitalist plantations owned by AJMR Sumitumo and Dole, two of the largest in agri-business, are currently expanding operations, rapidly gobbling up land, in collusion with local big landlords Floriendo, Soriano, Dizon, etc., to the very detriment of thousands of peasants.

The NDFP-Mindanao spokesperson also said in Far Southern Mindanao, Dole has already laid claim to more than 35,000 hectares of prime land; the largest foreign mining company in the country, Xstrata SMI, took over more than 90,000 hectares of land from the Western Mining Corp. in the quadri-boundary of this region’s four provinces.

The President’s uncle Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. and its food and beverage empire– the San Miguel Corporation (SMC), according to Madlos has begun agri-business and mining operations in the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani.

In North Central Mindanao, multi-national companies Dole, Del Monte, Nestle, Inc. and San Miguel Corp. now dominate both the provinces of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental. In Caraga, the large mining firms Red V Ltd., BHP Billitton, Marcventures Mining and Development Corp.

The Puyat-owned logging company SUDECOR, and banana and oil palm plantations owned respectively by Soriano and FPPI and API have displaced peasant and lumad communities as well as ravaged the region’s rich environment.

Madlos said the massive militarization by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and armed paramilitary units under the guise of counter-insurgency is an indispensable component to guarantee the unhampered operations, exploitation and expansion of these foreign monopoly companies.

” As mercenaries, AFP troops have acted as Industrial Defense Force (IDF) units to secure these said multinational companies,” he said.

“These military operations have resulted in the perpetration of grave human rights abuses against both the Moro and non-Moro peasants and the lumad people, which include extra-judicial killings, forced disappearances, torture, divestment of crops and property, rape and the displacement of whole communities,” added Madlos.

The NDFP-Mindanao predicted the condition is expected to worsen once the constitution of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines is amended by the reactionary legislature to make way for treasonous policies such as allowing foreign entities 100% land ownership.

“The evisceration of remaining safeguards for the protection of national patrimony and sovereignty preludes the wholesale plunder of our land and our resources,” it said.

Solution not forthcoming

The NDFP said real solution to the centuries old land problem of the Filipino peasantry, who comprise more than 70% of the country’s population, is not forthcoming as their grievances fall on ears that only listen to and act on the dictates of the big landlord, comprador classes and its imperialist boss.

“One after another, reactionary regimes in the past — from Roxas to Macapagal-Arroyo — violently quashed any attempt to bring about genuine land reform in the Philippines to favour landlord and imperialist interests against that of thousands upon thousands of peasants,” it said,

The NDFP-Mindanao said to appease the growing discontent and, eventually, to snuff out the aspiration for revolutionary change of the peasantry, previous governments of landlord and big bourgeois compradors offered bogus agrarian programs that only managed to shove the peasant masses deeper into deprivation and destitution.

Present situation

The NDFP- Mindanao noted that under the new regime, the peasant situation is expected to turn for the worse because President Aquino, who comes from the powerful Cojuangco-Aquino landlord clan well-known for committing anti-peasant acts, has, in collusion with local big business, blocked genuine agrarian reform.

” And, by way of his so-called “private-public partnership” and other similar schemes, offered up vast tracts of arable land for sale to foreign monopoly capitalists. Tellingly, Don Aquino’s response to the demands of the Hacienda Luisita farmers was to offer them with bogus schemes more insidious than the SDO (Stock Distribution Option), which aim to weaken peasant unity rather than provide a genuine and lasting solution to the problem,” it said.

The NDFP argued that ss far as genuine land reform is concerned, the landlord Benigno Aquino III is only bound to make his imperialist master content and leave the peasantry and farm workers languish in abject poverty.

“Thus, the only solution is for the peasant masses to take the initiative into their own hands and to resolutely launch their own version of genuine land reform by way of an agrarian revolution, which would smash the chains of feudal exploitation. Agrarian revolution, which aims to end the feudal exploitation and oppression of the peasants, is the main content of the New Democratic Revolution waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, and the NDFP,” it said.

Success stories

The NDFP-Mindanao meanwhile announced strings of victories and success stories for the peasantry in connection with the its revolutionary agrarian reform campaign.

It took notice of the recently, peasant masses across the country and, particularly, in Mindanao have launched a series of mass actions that herald agrarian issues, demanding for the step by step lowering of land rent and usury; increase of farm wages; increase in the farm gate prices of farm products and decrease in the prices of farm inputs and basic commodities — an overture to the eventual crushing of feudal bondage.

The NDFP Mindanao said these waves of collective peasant actions have increasingly become frequent, intense and widespread in the island, benefitting thousands of peasants and lumad.

“As the struggle for genuine land reform becomes more intense, the ruling class and their armed apparatus will become ever more violent. Thus, we call on the peasant masses to remain steadfast in their historic struggle to liberate themselves from feudal yoke of oppression and exploitation,” the NDFP added.

The NDFP-Mindanao said the farmers and the Filipino people will always have the Communist Party of the Philippines to lead the way and the New People’s Army to depend on to make certain that victory in this epochal battle for national liberation and democracy is attained.

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