Marching farmers warned to be wary of fake NGOs

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

PEASANTS marching from all over Mindanao may have the best solution for their land woes to press government to act on their demands, but a farmers’ group leader has warned that they should be wary of non-government organizations (NGOs) that may be taking them for a ride.

“They (marching peasants) should know that there are fake NGOs which only make a milking cow out of them,” said Richard Colao, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) secretary general for Northern Mindanao.

The farmers, who arrived from Bukidnon in Barangay Agusan here Wednesday afternoon, have made the march possible through the support of the Task Force Mapalad and Alliance of Land Rights Movement in Mindanao (Alarm-Mindanao).


Colao said the peasants should not allow themselves to be used by some bogus NGOs whose interest is to make money than help them attain their goal of taking the land that is due them following the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (Carper).

“These fake NGOs appear to be helping the farmers but in reality they just want to make money out of the poor peasants,” Colao told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro by phone Wednesday afternoon.

He said that if these NGOs are really sincere in helping the landless farmers in their fight to own land, then they (peasants) should have been landowners by now.

He added these fake NGOs also collect money from the farmer-petitioners for processing and legal fees for nothing in return.

In reality, Colao said, Carper has done nothing but turning the land distribution into a business enterprise.

“Kung tinood pa nga pagpang apud-apud sa kayutaan ang tuyo sa gobyerno, nganong pabayran pa man nila sa mga yanong mag-uuma ang maong mga yuta (If the government is really earnest in distributing land to the ordinary peasants, then why are they asking the landless farmers to pay for the land)?” Colao said.

He said a lowly tiller could not even provide for the basic necessities of his family let alone pay for the land that will be awarded to him.

Colao has agreed with the previous statement of tribal leader Datu Jomorito Goaynon that instead of pushing for Carper, which will expire soon, the peasants must lobby for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (Garb) or House Bill 374, which is pending at the House of Representatives.

But he said he doubted if the Garb would see its passage as a law anytime soon since it will threaten legislators who have huge landholdings.

Uphill battle

Colao attended two sessions in the 14th Congress and from what he had observed, the passage of the Garb is still an uphill battle for the farmers.

For the KMP, Colao said the best that they can do is to continue with the signature campaign to convince the progressive-minded legislators and farmers from all over the country to support the approval of the Garb at the Lower House.

He added that the group has organized municipal and provincial coordinators who will invite farmers to awareness meetings.

In the coming weeks, he said, KMP will hold assemblies to let farmers know how important is the passage of Garb in their desire to have the land they can call their own.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 29, 2014.

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