The National Democratic Front in Southern Mindanao is one with the Filipino people in strongly condemning the armed attack against poor landless tillers who were waging a rightful struggle against its landlord-bourgeois comprador in Tagum City.
At around 7:30 in the morning yesterday December 12, hired armed thugs of the Lorenzo-owned Lapanday Foods Corporation directly fired upon farmers in a premeditated attack that resulted in the serious wounding of seven farmers, including a 16-year old, who, along with a thousand other peasants and their supporters, have been encamped in the area.
We are outraged by the fact that barely two days after the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day, the mercenary armed goons of a feudal lord have again victimized hapless civilians.
On December 9, the peasants were accompanied by more than a thousand from different support groups to reclaim an agricultural area consisting of 145 hectares which were made a milking cow for banana export business. Immediately, company guards fired more than 30 warning shots to intimidate the civilians. Every day since, the peasants were subjected to different forms of harassment by the company guards, including deliberately aerially spraying on them and their food supply with poisonous chemicals. Heavily armed guards also accompanied workers to harvest bananas in the five hectares owned by the farmers.
For close to two decades, the Lorenzos has exercised full feudal and semi-feudal control of the sprawling 1,500-hectare productive lands under what the farmers rightly criticize as “onerous, deceptive, exploitative and oppressive agri-venture agreements (AVAs).” Landed gentry like the Lorenzos use this blanket authority to brazenly exercise brute force to intimidate the farmers and push them away of their land and livelihood. The peasants have had enough and are now waging a struggle to seize control of their lands through rightful occupation.
We call on all revolutionary forces to extend assistance and all forms of support to the peasants who are presently encamping at Madaum, Tagum City. We must mobilize thousands to support the call for ownership of land to all the tillers, not only in Tagum City but elsewhere in the region.
At present, the same feudal exploitation in the form of landgrabbing confronts around 1,500 peasant families in the school reservation of Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology in Arakan, North Cotabato. We enjoin all affected peasant families and their support groups to stand united in militant struggle for genuine land reform.
We urge GRP Pres. Duterte, especially the office of the Department of Agrarian Reform, to conduct an impartial investigation and ensure that the Lorenzos and other perpetrators of the attack are made accountable to the crime. It will show commitment on the part of the GRP to positively respond to the demands of the peasants at this juncture when socio-economic reforms are about to be discussed in the peace negotiations.