By Chito Chavez
At the same rally on Elliptical Road in Quezon City, thousands of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) members were mobilized merging with other cause-oriented groups as they trooped toward Batasan Pambansa for the president’s state-of-the-nation address (SONA).
The peasant group has earlier presented their assessment of Duterte’s first year as President.
“Dissatisfied is an understatement. We are appalled by Duterte’s militarism. His presidency is one of unfulfilled promises and no significant change,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said.
KMP said “peasant unrests across the country will continue even with martial law in Mindanao and President Duterte’s creeping iron-hand rule. ‘’
Ramos vowed that the KMP would be relentless ensuring that the group would continue to persevere in the nationwide struggle for genuine land reform and national industrialization.
“Land occupation of haciendas and big landholdings and nationwide collective land cultivation campaigns will continue. Duterte’s martial law will only direct Filipinos to the path of struggle and resistance,” the KMP said.
He noted that the current worsening economic and political situation and Duterte’s repressive rule will push the peasant masses – farmers, indigenous peoples and millions of rural poor – to the path of struggle.
The KMP leader added that close to half a million rural poor people were displaced by the government’s all-out war and airstrikes as 68 activists were killed in political killings.
Antonio Flores, KMP secretary-general, maintained that state-sponsored human rights abuses persist on a nationwide scale.
He added that farmers who are vilified and tagged by the military as supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA) would eventually join the revolutionary movement and armed resistance against the Duterte regime that perpetuates the dominance of landlords, big business and foreign powers.
“Farmers have bet our chance on the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations to address the roots of the systemic poverty, landlessness and end the decades of armed conflict but Duterte eventually allowed the militarists in his government to reign. He authorized the likes of General Lorenzana, Esperon and Año to cause mass destruction of lives and livelihood through the imposition of martial law,” Flores said.
KMP said Duterte’s prepared SONA speech described by Malacañang as ‘frank and hopeful’ and will center on providing comfortable life for Filipinos would mean nothing more to farmers than the President’s daily rants. “
We don’t expect anything new or spectacular with the SONA. We know how Duterte thinks and speaks. Whatever he would say today, we are sure we have heard it all before,” Flores noted.
The KMP also reiterated their call for the lifting of martial law and the halting of military operations and airstrikes in Marawi City and other Mindanao areas.
“Duterte and the AFP are guilty of ‘ethnic genocide’ with the continued attacks and Islamophobia against the Moro people,” Ramos concluded.
WATCH OUR LIVE COVERAGE OF 2017 SONA HERE.