MASIPAG on 19th year since Hacienda Luisita Massacre: Genuine Agrarian Reform is Peace

November 16, 2023

by MASIPAG National Office

Magsasaka at Siyentipiko Para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) is one with the Filipino people in remembering the Hacienda Luisita Massacre, a dark chapter in our nation’s history that starkly exposes the failures of the Philippines’ agrarian reform policies as well as overall welfare of agricultural workers. Claiming the lives of seven farmers, persecuting and injuring hundreds more, this tragic event stands as a painful testament to the ongoing struggle of our farmers for land rights and justice, urging us to reflect and act upon the urgent need for genuine agrarian reform to pave the way for genuine rural development.

The Hacienda Luisita Massacre serves as a painful reminder of the persistent landlessness that plagues our agricultural sector up until today. Despite promises of land reform, many Filipino farmers continue to be denied access to the land they till, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and injustice. Worse, farmers who assert their right to land are harassed, persecuted, and killed by powerful entities. Even those who follow the legal but cold bureaucratic process of land titleship as stated in the present land reform policy such as the case of the farmers of MAKISAMA Tinang of Tarlac are constantly being harassed and persecuted by both the state agents and malicious entities. According to Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas,despite the existing policies to address landlessness, it still stands that 8 out of 10 farmers are landless. It is incumbent upon us to acknowledge and address the root causes of this issue, pushing for a comprehensive agrarian reform policy that rectifies historical injustices and empowers those who tirelessly toil our fields and provide food in our plates.

Efforts to pass meaningful pro-farmer policies have for the longest time been ignored such as the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill filed by our progressive duty-bearers. On the other hand, the UNDROP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas) stands as one of the many beacons of hope for the rights of our farmers. As we remember the Hacienda Luisita Massacre, MASIPAG reiterates to our duty-bearers in upholding the principles laid out in the UNDROP, ensuring that the rights of our rural communities are protected and respected. 

Further, we must extend our focus beyond land distribution. The welfare of agricultural workers must encompass a holistic approach that embraces farmer-led agroecology. Since its wide scale adaptation during the green revolution of the 70s, conventional agriculture is always coupled with a package of unsustainable and harmful technologies and debt, exposing our farmers to harm, both environmentally and physically. It cannot be denied that conventional farming, with the Philippines’ long history and experience on its punishing capital and chemical intensive methods, are also one of the drivers of land dispossession. It is now imperative that our call for genuine agrarian reform must be coupled with farmer-led agroecology to ensure farmers’ full sovereignty not only in land but also in seed and technology. Transitioning to agroecology not only promotes sustainable farming practices but also protects the health and well-being of our agricultural workforce. It further serves as a weapon of farmers to corporate opportunists with intentions to dispossess farmers of their lands by offering debt schemes to farmers in exchange for their lands.

In our pursuit of justice and equity, we must further our advocacies for policies that fully embody the overall welfare of our farmers. Genuine agrarian reform should not only secure land rights but also uphold environmentally sustainable practices that protect our farmers from the hazards of chemical-intensive agriculture and cycle of debts and ultimately promote and assert food sovereignty. 

As we remember the lives lost in the Hacienda Luisita Massacre, let us redouble our efforts to push for meaningful change. MASIPAG calls on everyone to stand united against punitive and anti-farmer power structures and policies as well as in the call for genuine agrarian reform policies that address the root causes of landlessness and prioritize the well-being of our farmers. Only through a comprehensive and just approach can we pave the way for a future where every farmer is accorded their rightful place as stewards of the land.