For farmers, the wounds of martial law remain painful

Calls for genuine land reform persist as Filipinos commemorate the first people power uprising (Photo by Carlo Manalansan/Bulatlat)

For Filipino farmers, no amount of historical distortion can erase the sins of martial law.


MANILA – For Filipino farmers, the wounds inflicted by the Marcos dictatorship are still painful and cannot be ignored.

In a statement, the agricultural workers’ group Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said farmers today are reeling from the policies imposed during the Marcos dictatorship, describing them as a “sabotage of Philippine agriculture “.

These policies include continuing to consolidate the plantation system in the country, of which 1.2 million hectares of land is still controlled by large corporations through unbalanced agribusiness arrangements, the official said. UMA.

“Too much violence had been directed at us. Our wounds are too deep to forget,” said WBU President Antonio Flores.


Flores said that as the plantation system developed under the Marcos dictatorship, the land became even more out of reach for ordinary farmers. He said they were instead pushed into unbalanced relationships with farm businesses where “they were earning less and less as farm workers”.

These slave-like conditions that agricultural workers face today, the peasant leader said, “were put in place very early on by the Marcos dictatorship.”

Of the plantations that were consolidated during the time of martial law, the UMA said it benefited Antonio Floirendo, Sr., who the farmworker group said was a crony of Marcos Sr.

Through investment firm Anflocor and Floirendo’s Tagum Development Company, UMA said it “earned the nickname ‘Banana King’ for exporting the high-value crop to Japan during martial law”. Tadeco’s 6,000 hectare land quickly grew by another 4,000.

There are also at least 32,000 hectares consolidated in banana and pineapple plantations now under Dole Philippines.

Meanwhile, the Campos family, whose patriarch Jose Yao Campos served as a financial adviser to the late dictator, acquired Del Monte Philippines, with no less than 25,000 hectares dedicated to pineapples alone.

“The fake land reform under the tyrant concealed his sale of the peasantry to imperialist forces,” Flores said.

The export of sugar during the 1970s, on the other hand, was also monopolized by Roberto Benedicto, an ally of the dictator Marcos’ dictatorship. Through his Philippine Exchange Company (Philex) and the National Sugar Trading Corporation (Nasutra), UMA said Benedicto “threw the whole island of Negros into misery, buying cheap sugar from the capital from the country’s hacienda in order to sell it dearly to the American market, criminally bypassing sugar planters and laborers in the process.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, in a separate statement, noted that these vast plantations were then exempt from Presidential Decree No. 27, which served as the framework for the government’s comprehensive land reform programme.

Fictitious projects for farmers

Farmers join in the commemoration of the first people power uprising (Photo by Carlo Manalansan/Bulatlat)

Instead of providing social services to Filipino farmers, KMP chairman Danilo Ramos said dictator Marcos, as seen in his agricultural program Masagana 99, had “eventually ceded agriculture to foreign interests and pushed millions of farmers going bankrupt”.

The KMP said that instead of ending hunger and food shortages, the program inflated grain production costs by 89% and put farmers in debt.

The farmers’ group said that these high-value crops also had adverse effects on the environment and on the health of farmers.

KMP added that the Marcos dictatorship facilitated the theft of the 105 billion pesos of coir levy funds from poor coconut farmers. The levies collected were intended to support the livelihoods of coconut farmers and the coconut industry, but KMP said the funds were instead “looted by Marcos and his cronies”.

Attacks on farmers

Farmers who pushed back during martial law also faced heavy attacks.

Among these were the Escalante massacre on September 20, 1985, the Guinayangan massacre on February 1, 1981, the Daet massacre on June 14, 1981, and the Sag-od massacre on September 15, 1981.

Ramos said many farming communities now continue to face violent attacks, with land still controlled by Marcos allies like the Cojuangcos, Aranetas and Enriles.

Flores said Filipino farmers also commemorate the overthrow of the dictatorship 36 years ago because “no matter how hard the tyrant’s son tries to deodorize his father’s name, we can still smell the smell of death. on Bongbong Marcos. No historical distortion can erase it. (ADD) (