Bill on “genuine agrarian reform” filed

Gabriela party-list representatives Luz Ilagan of Davao City and Liza Maza, joined party-list representatives from Bayan Muna and Anakpawis int eh filing of the “Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill of 2007,” also known as "An Act Instituting Genuine Agrarian Reform In the Country and Creating the Mechanism For its Implementation and Other Purposes."

The bill emphasizes free land distribution to deserving farmer beneficiaries and the dismantling of land monopoly now prevalent in the country.

"Landlessness is still the core of the  economic and political problems of peasants and of others in the agriculture sector,” Ilagan said, adding the bill emphasizes land distribution to deserving farmer-beneficiaries and “dismantling of land monopoly,” the Gabriela party-list statement said.

“The recent suicide of Estanislao Ablin, a farmer from Butuan City, is a clear example of how impoverished  farmers are being pushed to commit such  a tragic act. The Genuine Land Reform Act of 2007 is intended to replace  the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program which will end this year.  This law  has  aggravated the difficult condition of the farmers by legalizing land grabbing for over twenty years,” the statement added.

At least 50 farmers, among them Higaonons,  had been walking from Sumilao, Bukidnon since October 10, en route to Malacanang by December 10, to demand the return of 144 hectares to them. They are now in Luzon.

In Mindanao, there are various flashpoints pertaining to the non-distribution of what were supposed to be lands-for-distribution.

Ilagan said the “extreme poverty experienced by the peasants reflects the decades-long social injustice .  The passage of this bill will alleviate the plight of poor peasants and push for genuine agricultural development.”

Vast tracts leased to transnational corporations in Mindanao, excluded from coverage under the 1988 law, will be included  in the proposed law.

“The House Bill highlights salient points that include dismantling of land monopoly, broadening the scope and coverage of land distribution, and the putting up of support services.  The holistic and comprehensive approach to the development of agriculture shall address the concerns of the toiling masses of the country,” the statement said. (MindaNews)