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Photo courtesy of Kodao Productions

Quezon City - “Secure our Land, Secure our Food”, a National Conference on the present trends on land grabbing was participated in by more than a hundred genuine land reform advocates from across the country on October 11, 2018 at Balai Kalinaw, University of the Philippines- Diliman. Spearheaded by the Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes, Inc. (PNFSP), and co-organized with Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the conference aims to raise social awareness through presentation of up-to-date facts on land grabbing, seek collective and alternative measures from fellow food advocates, farmers, religious workers, academe and organic agriculture enthusiasts, especially at this time of severe and worsening socio-economic crisis due to oppressive and anti-people policies and regulations of the Duterte administration.

One highlight case is presented by Joseph Canlas, Vice Chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Accordingly to Canlas, in Porac, Pampanga, a massive displacement of Aeta communities is happening due to the New Clark City project of the national government as part of the Build, Build, Build Program. It is feared to seize 9, 500 hectares of Aeta ancestral land affecting their lives and livelihood.

In Quezon and Rizal, the Laiban-Kaliwa-Kanan mega dams, to be funded by Chinese capital, will encroach on 20,000 hectares of Dumagat ancestral lands. Various ecotourism and real estate projects are sprouting in the remaining lands in Southern Luzon provinces.

In Visayas, land grabbing in the form of shipyard projects funded by foreign firms threaten communities. The Southern Negros Industrial Estate of Governor Alfredo Maranon capitulated to Tsuneishi S

hipbuilding Company, and both agreed to establish a giant shipyard located at Brgy. Bacuyangan, Hinoba-an, Negros Occidental. This resulted to massive displacement of farmers due to land conversion. Not less than 100 hectares of land was converted to car re-use plant, furniture plant, soybean oil plant, biomass power plant, domestic airport, port, tourism area, and road widening. In Catmon Bay, farmers and fisherfolks are afraid for their food security due to damaged reefs and mangroves as a result of chemical wastes from the shipyard.

In Mindanao, more than 700,000 hectares are already devoted to Agribusiness Venture Arrangements in large plantations of banana, pineapple, cacao, rubber and oil palm, and about 500,000 hectares are still being used in Mining operations, less lands for food production of Filipinos and more lands for export. “Farmer’s income has not improved and much worst, had resulted to landlessness, food scarcity and hunger” said Dulphing Ogan, Secretary General of Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (KALUMARAN).

The government, through the Department of Agrarian Reform, is also looking at the conversion of more than 80,000 hectares of land in Central Visayas, Palawan, CARAGA, Northern Mindanao, Western Mindanao and ARMM for the expansion of oil palm plantations. The Philippine Economic Zone Authority is eyeing to transform 8,000 hectares of mining lands into an ecozone in Compostela Valley.

“These projects are geared towards an economy favorable to the pockets of big and international capitalist firms and their local Filipino counterparts. The environmental damages caused by these projects, will worsen the Philippine food security. The right to food is one of the many essentials of human rights. Denying it means denying man to live as a human being and be with humanity”. Said Renmin Vizconde, Executive Director of PNFS.

Participants of the conference agreed that it is through the passage of Genuine Land Reform Bill that our country can have firm security for land, food and life.###

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