Groups mark Day of the Landless in Bicol

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More than 30 vehicles and hundreds of peasants and their supporters launched the Caravan of the Landless for Land, Food and Justice from March 25 to March 30 in 40 towns and five cities in Bicol. The activity was led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bicol (Bicol Peasant Movement).

Protesters called for free land distribution; food, livelihood and rights for all; sufficient aid, dismantling of the NTF-Elcac, and more. For their main activity, they held the Global Day of the Landless on March 29. Similar protests were held in Cavite and Pangasinan, as well as in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform in Quezon City on that day.

The Global Day of the Landless was first observed on 1995 on the initiative of the Asian Peasant Coalition to unite various landless movements and struggles in the countryside. This year, 110 peasant alliances, institutes and organizations, mostly from Asia and Africa, participated in the event.

In the past decades, widespread landgrabbing by big corporations and capitalist governments has accelerated, according to the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Asia Pacific. In the Philippines, this is seen in the expansion of capitalist plantations growing bananas, pineapples, corn and oil palm, as well as destructive mining. This has resulted in the dislocation of entire peasant and indigenous communities from their farms and ancestral lands.

There is also the push for landgrabbing in the guise of “climate change investments,” according to the group. This include investments in farms and natural resources (including forests, seas, minerals, land, biodiversity), obsession with biofuel and environmental protection purportedly to balance carbon emissions. These schemes have resulted in a culture of impunity, and plunder by and bigger profits for aggressors.

Groups mark Day of the Landless in Bicol