Amid Imperialist and Corporate Plunder: Our Stories of Struggle Will Prevail

March 30, 2024

by MASIPAG National Office

MASIPAG on the Global Day of the Landless

Every March 29, peasant farmers and indigenous people’s groups all around the world commemorate what we call the Global Day of the Landless. Initiated by the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), the Global Day of the Landless highlights the rural communities’ continuing struggle for land.

In the Philippines, the land struggle remains deep into the hearts of the peasant farmers – a struggle that is anchored in our yearning for genuine liberation from the prevailing semi colonial and semi feudal conditions where systemic and systematic landlessness thrives. 

For MASIPAG and its member people’s organizations, the struggles for pro-Filipino agriculture, seed, and food sovereignty through farmer-led agroecology is inseparable from the struggle for genuine agrarian reform. It goes without saying that without land, there is no life for our farmers and our seeds. 

Already a prevailing and decades-long of practice among landless farmers in the countryside, the inseparability of the politics of land and agricultural production through sustainable means popularly and operationally known as “GARSA” (Genuine Agrarian Reform and Sustainable Agriculture), further highlights the correctness of this dual assertion on land and agricultural production in actualizing what we mean when we say a “pro-Filipino agriculture”. 

In Negros Island, landless farmers have been practicing GARSA over their lands as early as 1998. The Asosasyon sang Mangunguma kag Mamumugon sa Lupni nga Naga-updanay or AMMLU hand in hand asserts their right to land while also actualizing their sovereignty over their seeds and technology through sustainable agriculture (also known as farmer-led agroecology).

AMMLU’s twin assertion of land and farmer-led agroecology not only further strengthens their political awareness of the systematic land dispossession and landlordism happening in the island. It also allows them to have a deeper understanding of the imperialist and corporate-led nature of chemical and capital-intensive farming that the unholy alliance of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), agri-TNCs and the bureaucrat capitalist nature of the government introduced during the green revolution of the 1970s and still continuously proliferate until today. 

Amid the challenges, AMMLU’s practice of GARSA continuously triumphs with the establishment of their in-situ seed bank that cultivates and conserves our country’s traditional, indigenous, and farmer-bred rice varieties that the green revolution aimed to erase and dispossessed.

In Luzon, the farmers’ organization MAKISAMA Tinang of Tarlac has been braving the relentless attack and disadvantages of landgrabbers and impotent land laws for the past 29 years through GARSA. Likewise, with AMMLU’s twin assertion over their land and agriculture production, MAKISAMA’s Tinang resolve has been nothing but steadfast in achieving their total sovereignty over their land and agricultural practices through farmer-led agroecology. 

Despite experiencing the unjust and illegal massive arrest of its members from the hands of the state agents last 2022 by merely exercising their rights to the lands already declared to them in 1995, MAKISAMA Tinang were able to triumph and reiterate their rightful ownership of the land that they are tilling. 

Only depending on their collective strength and the ease that farmer-led agroecology provides to sustainably continue their farming amid the punitive attacks, MAKISAMA Tinang was able to assert and retrieve some of the lands that the Department of Agrarian Reform promised to distribute to them 29 years ago. 

By being able to free themselves from the burden and harms of conventional farming- its chemical inputs and corporate-patented seeds, by practicing farmer-led agroecology, MAKISAMA Tinang were able to synergize their efforts in asserting genuine agrarian reform, technology, and seed sovereignty all in the same time – effectively making their lands a fortress of farmer solidarity in different yet united trajectories towards food sovereignty. 

Today, MAKISAMA Tinang, through GARSA, has been slowly but steadily tilling some of the 90 hectares of land that they have asserted and fought for. 

The stories of AMMLU and MAKISAMA Tinang, amid the imperialist and corporate plunder of our land, agriculture, and food systems, collective struggles in land and agricultural production- one of which GARSA exemplifies, only shows that from a situation in which nothing can happen, suddenly anything – our freedom is possible again.