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Philippines farmers march on Manila to claim land

President accused of not keeping promise made two years ago

ucanews.com reporter, Cagayan de Oro
Philippines

May 26, 2014

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Hundreds of farmers from Mindanao in the southern Philippines launched a protest march to Manila today to call for the immediate distribution of land before the government’s 25-year agrarian reform program expires next month.

"Big landowners will only hold on to their properties if the government will not immediately act on the distribution of land to peasants," said Romeo Brioso, chairman of the Alliance of Land Rights Movement in Mindanao.

The government's Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program will end in June after 25 years of implementation but some 25,000 acres of agricultural land in Mindanao have not been distributed to farmers.

Brioso slammed the administration of President Benigno Aquino for lacking the "political will" to distribute lands that are owned by "prominent people."

This week's agrarian reform rally is the second march for Mindanao farmers who walked for 19 days from Mindanao to Manila in 2012, prompting Aquino to promise that the farmers "will have land." 

"Now after two years of waiting with uncertainty, we are going back to (the presidential palace) to claim what he had promised," Brioso said. 

Brioso added that the government failed to issue "notices of agrarian reform coverage" to the big landowners. 

Data from farmers’ group Task Force Mapalad shows that the government has a backlog of 2.7 million acres of land that should have been distributed.

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