The militant farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) has tagged Mar Roxas as a ‘landlord protector’ and would not be endorsing the standard bearer of the administration Liberal Party in the 2016 election.
The KMP bared this stand at a farmers’ assembly held recently at the University of the Philippines (UP) organized by the Philippine Land Reform Movement (PLRM).
The stand of the KMP against the ‘anti-farmer’ Roxas becomes part of the “Peasants Electoral Agenda for 2016” adopted by the assembly.
The agenda challenged presidential candidates to address, among others, the land problem, corruption of agricultural funds and human rights abuses against farmers.
Roxas is seen as a candidate who could not contribute to the agenda and will not be considered by KMP and its affiliates around the country for “being a landlord and a protector of comprador interest,” the militant farmers group said.
Before jumping into the presidential race, Roxas was the Interior Secretary of President Benigno Aquino.
Both the Roxas and Aquino families are currently in conflict with farmers demanding distribution of vast agricultural estates covered by land reform.
The KMP said Roxas belongs to the Araneta family, which is locked in dispute with farmers over a 3,000-hectare estate in San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan. The Aquinos own the large Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac where dozens of farmers lost their lives in the fight to have the land distributed to farmer beneficiaries.
KMP said it is choosing who to endorse among presidential candidates Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, Senators Grace Poe Llamanzares and Miriam Defensor Santiago.
KMP secretary general Antonio Flores lumped Roxas with his ‘boss’ Aquino whose ‘hacendero regime’ worsened farmers’ landlessness.
Nine out of 10 farmers are landless, according to Flores, because vast haciendas and plantations remain undistributed.
He mentioned the huge landholdings that should go to the farmers as the Aquino-Cojuangco family-owned Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, Araneta Estate in Bulacan, Hacienda Dolores in Pampanga, Hacienda Looc in Batangas, Danding Cojuangco Haciendas in Negros, and hundreds of thousands of transnational corporations-controlled plantations in Mindanao.
We will challenge the presidential aspirants to address the land problem which is the root cause not only of the agrarian-related violence but of the escalating civil war in the country, said Flores.
Flores said full national development is not achievable if farmers are denied their rights to land.
For as long as farmers are continually denied of their rights to their lands, the country will remain backward and underdeveloped, he said.
KMP, he said, has vowed to raise the level of debates on the plight of farmers in the 2016 election by intensifying the campaign for genuine agrarian reform.
Roxas, who rejects the peasantry’s demand to develop agriculture and the economy and uplift the lives of the peasantry has no right to hold public office, said the KMP leader said.