The National Federation of Sugar Workers yesterday condemned the statements made by 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, Brig. Gen. Eliezer Losañes, and spokesman Capt.Ruel Llanes “declaring the long-suffering farmers and farm workers of Negros as targets of their counterinsurgency campaign”.
This was by maliciously linking their efforts to ward off hunger through communal farming to the armed struggle being waged by the New People’s Army (NPA), a press release from the NFSW said.
The lies of these two outrageous officers, especially Llanes’ claim of a “source” within the so-called rebels “Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros,” would be laughable if not for the deadly implications they hold for the farmers and farm workers of an island that remains the epitome of the feudal nature of Philippine society, it said.
This is yet another attempt by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to suck up to the ruling elite by vilifying the masses and their legitimate struggle for land and food, the press release said.
Former DAR Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, whose appointment was rejected by the landlord-dominated Congress with no resistance from President Rodrigo Duterte, was correct when he described Negros, which has the largest backlog of undistributed land under the government’s bogus agrarian reform program, as the “bastion of landlordism”, it added.
It is to ward off the inevitable hunger brought by the Tiempo Muerto that the farmers and farm workers have decided to launch a campaign to establish “Land Cultivation Areas” on properties covered by agrarian reform but which remain undistributed, and on idle lands, planting these to vegetables, banana, corn and root crops to feed their families, the press release said.
The goal of establishing the LCAs is for the farmers and farm workers to fully enjoy the fruits of their labor, it said.
The many LCAs established in Negros are a reflection of government’s failure to implement even its bogus Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and are not, as Losañes ridiculously claims, a “land grab” by the rebels, it added.
“Losañes’ appeal to the “owners of these land-grabbed farms landlords to come out in the open and file charges in court against the rebels” is not only intended to undermine the legitimate struggle of Negros’ rural masses, it is also meant to ingratiate himself, in true mercenary fashion, with the landlord class,” the press release also said.
“We are extremely concerned that the 303rd IB’s Red baiting signals open season on mass activists and an impending spike in human rights abuses. Yet at the same time, the NFSW declares that we cannot and should not cower and, instead, must strengthen the unity of peasants and farm workers to advance the struggle for land, justice and freedom,” the press release added.*
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