33 years after Mendiola Massacre: Lack of genuine land reform make farmers, rural poor vulnerable to calamities

As agricultural and economic losses resulting from the Taal eruption continue to mount by the day, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said farmers, fisherfolk and millions of people in rural communities have become more vulnerable to the effects of calamities because of the lack of genuine land reform and a real rural development.

“The estimated foregone income in Calabarzon provinces (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) affected by the Taal eruption have reached Php4.3 billion, mostly in agriculture, fisheries and livestock. Farmers and fisherfolk have lost everything — their homes, livelihood, and their future as they face a grim reality,” according to KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos.

KMP said former farmlands in Calabarzon were among the first to be converted to real estate and non-agricultural uses, displacing farmers and original tillers of the land. In Batangas alone, farmers and fisherfolk persisted to inhabit the volcano island and the peripheries of Taal Lake because their source of income and livelihood is there.

The farmers’ group also lambasted the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) for consistently downplaying the economic effects of the Taal eruption. “Callous as always, Neda is easily dismissing the social cost and economic impact of the Taal eruption despite the fact that thousands of farmers face uncertainties on how they will recover from this calamity.”

“The rehabilitation and recovery will be harder especially for poor farmers and fisherfolk who rely on their harvest and daily catch for food and income,” Ramos said. More than 2,761 sustenance fisherfolk gathering finfish, crustaceans, and mollusks are dependent on Taal Lake for their livelihood.  More than 15,000 hectares of farmland planted with rice, corn, coffee, coconut, cacao, banana, pineapple and other fruits, and high-value crops are affected. More than 6,000 fish cages of bangus and tilapia were damaged.

No significant change on the state of PH farmers

The economic status of farmers did not change throughout the decades — they are among the most susceptible and poverty-stricken. Tomorrow, on the occasion of the 33rd year of Mendiola Massacre, farmers will gather in a Forum for Land, Justice and Peace and will lead a protest program in Mendiola to reiterate issues besetting farmers particularly the need for a genuine agrarian reform, rural development and national industrialization.

“We assert that a genuine agrarian reform program containing free land distribution and rural development is necessary to attain genuine resiliency and the long-term recovery and development of the rural poor,” Ramos concluded.

(Featured image from Bulatlat)

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