“We cannot wait any longer to deal with the structural causes of poverty, in order to heal our society from an illness that can only lead to new crises.”
We, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) a mission partner of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) extend our support to the Pambansang Lakbayan ng Magsasaka 2017 and our solidarity to farmers, fisherfolk, and agricultural workers all over the country in the struggle for genuine agrarian reform.
As we commemorate the 45th year of Presidential Decree No. 27, (PD27)– Marcos’ failed land reform program this October, it disheartens us to see that there has been no significant change in the lives of the rural poor. Landlessness among peasants prevail. Vast tracts of lands, including haciendas and plantations, remain under the control of big landlords and local and foreign agribusiness corporations. The rural sectors remain the poorest of the poor.
Despite his promise, President Duterte has turned his back on genuine socio-economic reforms. His assurances on genuine agrarian reform, free irrigation, and other support services have vanished. Meanwhile, peasants, indigeneous people and other rural sectors continue to suffer from intensified military attacks in the countryside. At least 81 victims of extrajudicial killings in line with Oplan Kapayapaan have been documented as of August this year. Among the victims was 19-year-old Obello Bay-ao, a Grade 6 Lumad student of the Salugpongan ‘Ta Tanu Igkanogon Community Center, who was shot by 2 armed members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU).
The recent rejection of Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano as the secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform by the Commission on Appointments only proves that in the Duterte administration, the interests of the landlords prevail over the interests of the Filipino peasants.
Therefore, it has become necessary to expose and oppose the fascist, anti-farmer, and anti-people Duterte regime. As Christians who vowed to serve the rural poor, we are one with the Filipino peasants in the continuing struggle for land, justice and peace. As the papal encyclical #101 Laborem Exercens 1981 of St. John Paul II called on “church people to help bring about radical changes in order to restore to agriculture and rural people their just value as a basis for a healthy economy,” we call on the religious community to support the call for free land distribution to Filipino farmers as it would remove the landlessness, and address hunger, poverty and injustices in our country.
Genuine Agrarian Reform, Now!
Stop Killing Farmers!
Sr. Elenita Belardo, RGS
Rural Missionaries of the Philippines
20 October 2017
[PHOTO credits: The Philippine Collegian]