Farmers kick-off caravan of the landless in Bicol, challenges candidates to uphold genuine land reform

Sorsogon, Philippines – Farmers and rural sectors from various Bicol provinces today started a six-day caravan of the landless for land, food and justice to highlight the most urgent issues of farmers that comprise majority of the country’s electorate.

The caravan from March 25 to 30, will traverse the provinces of Sorsogon, Albay, Camarines Sur, and Camarines Norte and will cover 41 municipalities, and 5 cities in Bicol, as well as one municipality in Quezon province.

The caravan coinciding with the start of the local campaign period, also underscores the full support of Bicolnon farmers to senatoriables Neri Colmenares, Elmer Labog and progressive Anakpawis party list.

“The process and outcome of the upcoming national elections is important for farmers. Our lives for the next six years is at stake. It is crucial that we remain vigilant and active in campaigning for candidates supporting our electoral agenda for genuine land reform and agricultural development,” says peasant leader Bert Autor of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bicol, the regional chapter of KMP.

Autor said candidates often address farmers and fisherfolk issues during sorties, in the hope of getting the support and votes of marginalized rural sectors. “Landlessness, lacking production support, militarization, and vulnerability to climate disasters are among the main issues of Bicolnon farmers and fishers. We have high hopes that VP Leni Robredo will address these issues if she wins the presidency,” Autor said as he assured that the Marcos-Duterte tandem will get no votes from poor farmers.

“Hindi pa naibabalik ang pondo ng coco levy na kinubra ni Marcos Sr. sa mga magniniyog. Napakarami ring pinatay na mga magsasaka dito sa Bicol sa panahon ni Rodrigo Duterte. Never again sa Marcos-Duterte.”

Autor also encourages Robredo to pursue the issue of Marcos’ unpaid estate taxes amounting to P203-billion. Dapat singilin at pagbayarin ang mga Marcos. Malaki ang maitutulong ng P203-bilyon kung ilalaan sa pagpapaunlad ng agrikultura at pantulong sa mga magsasaka.

Autor said the P203-B to be collected from the Marcos family can be used to fund either of the following:

  • P185-B requirement of the Rice Industry Development Act’s production support program for rice farmers
  • P100-B Land Acquision and Distribution and Support Services program of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill
  • 2 years fund for the National Food Authority’s Rice Procurement Program.

The caravan will have pitstop programs in Sorsogon, Legazpi, Naga and Iriga cities. Former agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis party list is joining the farmers caravan.

Bicol region has 3.6 million voters in 2019. ###

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