Tell it to Sun­star: Who will feed the farm­ers?

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

It has al­ways been red.

Nine farm­ers in­clud­ing women and chil­dren were killed in Ha­cienda Nene Sa­gay City, Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal on Oc­to­ber 20, 2018.

A to­tal of 172 peas­ants were killed in the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion. The mur­dered farm­ers were or­ga­nized agri­cul­tural sugar work­ers. They held “bungkalan” ear­lier that day and were rest­ing when they were gunned down.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, one of them had bul­lets worth a mag­a­zine of M-16 in his head, three had their bod­ies burned by the as­sailants.

The Philip­pine Army tagged the peas­ants in­volved in the “bungkalan” in Ne­gros as sup­port­ers of the Com­mu­nist Party of the Philip­pines (CPP) and the New Peo­ple’s Army (NPA), its armed wing ear­lier this year.

None­the­less, the NFSW states that the “bungkalan” is the farm­ers’ way to feed their fam­i­lies now that it is Tiempo Muerto or dead sea­son of the sugar in­dus­try and the LCA’S were lands un­der agrar­ian re­form that are undis­tributed.

Seven out of 10 farm­ers do not have their own land, ac­cord­ing to the data of Na­tional Net­work of Agrar­ian Re­form Ad­vo­cates- Net­work (NNARA Youth).

There are agrar­ian re­forms on pa­per that re­main only par­tially ex­e­cuted. In ad­di­tion to hav­ing no own land to till, farm­ers also suf­fer from back­ward way of farm­ing as in man­ual process or rent­ing tools and equip­ment from the land­lords for a high price from their low wage.

The agri­cul­tural sugar work­ers are said to earn an av­er­age of 500-750 pe­sos weekly.

It’s ironic how the Philip­pines is an agri­cul­tural coun­try yet we im­port rice and our farm­ers are poor. Agri­cul­ture is a de­ter­min­ing fac­tor in the suc­cess of in­dus­try yet the sys­tem re­mains feu­dal.

Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice chief Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Os­car Al­bay­alde said in a press brief­ing that one of the an­gles they are look­ing at is the NPA do­ing the killing spree to blame it on the gov­ern­ment and gather em­pa­thy from the peo­ple. The state forces la­belled the agri­cul­tural sugar work­ers as NPA be­fore and now they pin­point the mas­sacre as do­ing of the same armed group.

An­other an­gle is the land­lord hir­ing pri­vate goons to kill the tillers since some claim that Ha­cienda Nene is un­cov­ered of the agrar­ian re­form. Whether a ha­cienda is cov­ered by the re­form or not, no land­lord should jus­tify killing farm­ers oc­cu­py­ing it.

Mala­cañang said that of­fi­cials as­sured that those be­hind the bar­barous deed would be pun­ished. Var­i­ous groups de­mand jus­tice and ac­count­abil­ity.

One thing is clear: peo­ple are com­fort­able with le­git­i­macy. Many peo­ple are not likely to sup­port the rev­o­lu­tion­ary gov­ern­ment just be­cause of one gov­ern­ment’s wrong­do­ing. Peo­ple dis­sent when they see some­thing is wrong. Peo­ple rebel be­cause of sys­temic op­pres­sion and long-term clamor that re­main un­heard.

The PNP claimed that the com­mu­nists are plot­ting Duterte’s ouster this Oc­to­ber, which they later said was post­poned to De­cem­ber. Farm­ers’ group cel­e­brate Oc­to­ber as “Peas­ants’ Month.”

With the re­cent in­ci­dent, we can see that Oc­to­ber is red not be­cause of rebel in­sur­gency but be­cause of the blood of the peas­ants bru­tally killed.

More than that, the coun­try has been in blood­bath since the start of the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion when the ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings have be­come wide­spread and se­vere, like a de facto death penalty.

This is not the first mas­sacre in­ci­dent on farm­ers in Philip­pine his­tory. Filipino farm­ers have long fight for gen­uine agrar­ian re­forms. Up un­til now all they strug­gle for their sec­toral in­ter­est to be up­lifted.

Most of the 172 peas­ants killed in this ad­min­is­tra­tion were or­ga­nized. They ask for lands, not bul­lets. -

Karen Bautista is a first year Bach­e­lor Arts in Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence stu­dent of the­uni­ver­sity of the Philip­pines-manila of

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