BAGUIO CITY (Oct. 28) — While Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo promised in her July 2006 State of the Nation Address (SONA) that one of her priorities is the agriculture sector, a peasant federation in the Cordillera claimed that her policies on agriculture continuously drive peasants to crisis.
Alyansa dagiti Pesante iti Taeng Kordilyera (Apit Tako or Alliance of Peasants in the Cordillera Homeland) pointed out that GMA adopted policies anchored with agreements under the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade – World Trade Organizations (GATT-WTO), which paved for entry of foreign capital, goods, and products into the local market.
Apit Tako noted the fast entry of transnational agribusiness corporations which led to their nearly monopoly of seeds production and fertilizer, pesticide, and technology productions. The transnational agribusiness corporations allegedly raked profits from these activities, Apit Tako observed.
The group also noted that the local producers of vegetables, legumes and rice are experiencing business loss due to cheap imported agricultural products.
“The farm-gate prices of the local agricultural products had remain the same or even lower,” claims Apit Tako in a statement.
Apit Tako also cited that large scale minings and dams have reduced the productivity of agricultural lands. It cited that 21,000 hectares of agricultural lands had been destroyed in Kalinga, Isabela and Cagayan due to the operation of the Batong Buhay mines in the 1980s; 10,000 hectares of agricultural lands were destroyed along the Abra River due to the operation of the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo); and the Agno River is polluted due to mine wastes from the Philex Mining Company.
More than half of the Cordillera land area of 1.8 million hectares are under application for mining by corporate interests.
The government policies identified by Apit Tako anchored with the GATT-WTO are the following: RP-China Early Harvest Program Agreement, RP-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, and the agreements it presently being discussed with Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, United States and India.
The Apit Tako released the statement as part of their activities in October as peasant month. # Via Nordis