DAVAO CITY— The nationwide farmers’ caravan, calling for land and justice and urging people to oppose Charter change, will kick off on Tuesday in Davao City.
Rep. Rafael Mariano of farmers’ partylist Anakpawis said that 7,000 farmers nationwide will join the 10-day caravan dubbed as “Pambansang Lakbayan ng Magsasaka para sa Lupa at Katarungan” (nationwide farmers’ caravan for land and justice). The caravan will start in Davao City, going to Butuan, Surigao, Leyte and Naga City in Camarines Sur before culminating in Metro Manila.
The Lakbayan delegates in Davao City will include farmers from different provinces in Southern Mindanao. They will be joined by other delegates from Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Surigao, and other provinces of Mindanao.
In Davao city, they will hold a protest program at the Freedom Park before a torch parade towards the office of House Speaker Prospero Nograles along Quirino Avenue where they will burn a copy of Carper Law (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program extension with reforms) to symbolize their protest.
Farmers groups said the Carper Law, a five-year extension of Carp, will not answer the farmers’ clamor for land.
Mariano said they have chosen Nograles’ office because Nograles has been the “pointman” of the Arroyo government in pushing for Charter change that will perpetuate Arroyo’s grip in power.
“This caravan for land and justice will push the final nail in the coffin of Ms. Arroyo’s Charter change,” he said.
Mariano said the House’ session, which will resume on January 18, will focus on the Constitutional Convention mode of amending the Charter after failing to railroad measures seeking to convene Congress into a Constituent Assembly.
Mariano said Nograles has also pushed for the one hundred percent foreign ownership of lands in the House Resolution 737 that he authored.
The resolution, still on plenary, seeks the removal of the Constitution’s restrictions to foreign ownership of land, according to Mariano.
Mariano said the Mindanao contingent in the Lakbayan caravan will include farmers who lost their lands to the Arroyo administration’s agribusiness and mining projects and those who have become victims of the government’s counterinsurgency policy.
The delegates will also hold a protest-vigil in the city before they will take off for Butuan City in the morning of January 13 to meet with other delegates from Western and Northern Mindanao.
On January 14 and 15, the Mindanao delegates will travel to Visayas and merge with other delegates from Liloan in Leyte, Calbayog in Samar, Soroson, Naga, Lucena, Bulacan, and other provinces of Central Visayas and North Eastern Visayas. On January 16 to 19, the Mindanao and Visayas delegates will meet up with delegates from Luzon.
The activity will culminate in Manila on January 22, the 23rd anniversary of the Mendiola massacre, where 13 farmers were killed on their march to Malacanang, demanding for lands and genuine agrarian reform from the Aquino administration. (Grace Uddin/davaotoday.com)