Initial reaction to SONA 2022

In response to Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) and key policies on agriculture and agrarian reform, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said:

> Marcos Jr. did not mention the enactment of a new land reform program that will ensure the continuation of land acquisition to expand the existing coverage of agricultural lands for distribution. As stated in his SONA, his administration will focus only on distributing Government-Owned Lands (GOL) under Duterte’s EO 75. But what about the acquisition and distribution of even larger private agricultural lands such as haciendas and landholdings under the control of private families and corporations? This would mean further land monopoly of landlords and big plantations.

> The pronouncement to suspend land amortization payments is welcome but long overdue. This would have had the most impact during the pandemic. Yet, its one-year duration is insufficient.

> The proclamation to condone the existing amortization balance of agrarian reform beneficiaries through legislation is likewise welcome but long overdue. We will nonetheless ensure that this translates on the ground.

> The intent to distribute lands free of charge is ineffective at best and duplicitous at worst, in the absence of a new agrarian reform law that will allow the coverage of new private agricultural lands for distribution after CARP’s mandate to do so expired in 2014. This limits the scope of the supposed “free distribution” to the existing balance, and to public lands which government agencies will be begged to surrender for coverage. The declaration for “free distribution” likewise becomes mundane as the bulk of it will be for public lands, absolving private land monopolies which shall retain the capacity to acquire, legally or otherwise, supposedly “distributed” lands.

> Moreover, the non-recognition of the problem of land use conversion defeats any declared support for agrarian reform. Without this, any farmer awarded any land faces the danger of eviction and conversion. An EO declaring a moratorium on the conversion of agricultural and agrarian reform lands, especially those devoted to food production, could have countered this. Instead Marcos Junior promoted the National Land Use Act, which will remove agriculture as a distinct land-use classification, enabling more land-use conversion. This plays into his continued support for the grand infrastructure program of his administration.

> Marcos Jr. did not address in his SONA the long-standing demand of farmers for free land distribution and genuine agrarian reform as the realization of social justice and genuine emancipation of farmers from the bondage of the soil. If the new administration will only distribute GOLs, then land amortization payment is not necessary.

> Concerning programs to address the food crisis and agricultural production, Marcos Jr. will likely continue the pro-market policies and programs of former Secretary William Dar  – institutionalized loans and meager financial assistance to farmers and fishers. Marcos Jr. did not mention the structural development of domestic agriculture that will foster job generation and overall industrialization.

> Marcos Jr. did not mention the review and repeal of the Rice Tariffication Law. His plans on how to lower the cost of farm inputs are also lacking and only seem aspirational.

KMP will further review and critique Marcos Jr’s SONA as farmers continue to press for the 12-point doables for the first 100 days of the new administration.

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