Mindanao land grabs to worsen w/ govt 1-M has. palm oil expansion plan

The militant peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today joined the People’s Welcome (Salubungan) of the more than 700 Lakbayanis who travelled to Manila all the way from Mindanao to demand a stop to escalating human rights abuses against Lumad and indigenous peoples by state forces and notorious paramilitary groups.

“Attacks against the people who defend their lands continue to intensify as land grabbing in Mindanao also worsen due to government policies allowing the massive conversion of agricultural and ancestral lands,” said KMP Chair and Anakpawis Partylist President Rafael Mariano.

This year’s Manilakbayan ng Mindanao has adopted the call “Stop the Attacks on Schools, Communities, and People! Support the people’s resistance to militarization and plunder in MindaNow!”

“The haciendero administration of Benigno Simeon Aquino III has allowed the massive landgrabbing of mining companies, plantations and agrocorporations, said Mariano who also noted that tens of thousands of Lumad families have evacuated their homes and farmlands due to intense military operations.

1M-hectares in Mindanao eyed for palm oil expansion

Mariano said the political unrest and people’s resistance in Mindanao will continue to intensify as the government plans to auction more than one million hectares of land in Mindanao to local and foreign palm oil corporations.

Based on the Philippine Coconut Authority’s Philippine Roadmap on the Palm Oil Industry from 2016 to 2023, more than 98 percent of the targeted potential production areas for palm oil is located in Mindanao, of which, 39 percent is strategically-located in the CARAGA region, where paramilitary groups thrive as force multipliers of the AFP’s nine full battalions deployed in the region as part of Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan.

To date, nine companies from Malaysia and Indonesia, the two biggest oil palm producers and exporters in the world, have signaled their intention to invest in Mindanao. Among these companies are Felda Global Ventures, New Britain Palm Oil Ltd.-PNG, Pertamina-Indonesia, Perkebunan Nusantara-Indonesia, and Bali Palm Oil-Indonesia.

“The government has allowed the wanton plunder of our lands and natural resources and all those who defend their lands and ancestral rights are attacked viciously. This has to stop. We vow to continue asserting our rights to the lands and our national patrimony,” Mariano said.

The Manilakbayan Mindanao contingent, supported by people’s organizations, will set up a People’s Camp (Kampuhan) at the University of the Philippines from October 26 to 31 and at the Liwasang Bonifacio from November 1 to 22. ###

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