Manila, Philippines-The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) expressed its opposition of dislocation of the Lumad people in their communities caused by land grabbing and expansion of corporate plantations in Mindanao which was causal to the holding of the nationwide caravan Manilakbayan 2015. The group co-convened the Network Resisting Expansion of Agricultural Plantations in Mindanao (REAP Mindanao Network) on its launching at the College of Education of University of the Philippines, Diliman. The network aimed to create awareness and take actions against the monopoly control of agro-corporations over hundreds of thousands of hectares of land in Mindanao.
“We join the resistance against expansion of plantations in Mindanao that displaces our Lumad brothers and sisters, to protect the dignity of their lives and culture, as well as the environment, we urge the church sectors, the Catholic community, to do the same,” Sr. Francis Aňover, RSM, RMP national coordinator said during the activity.
RMP said that Mindanao hosts the largest plantations of rubber, banana and pineapple in the country such as of the giant fruit companies Del Monte, Sumifru, Dole and their subsidiaries. Their plantations have displaced and continue to encroach ancestral lands of Lumad communities in Bukidnon, South Cotabato, Sarangani, Compostela Valley and Davao provinces. At present, about 1 million hectares of land are being converted into oil palm estates located in Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabao, Caraga and Northern Mindanao region.
The religious group also held the Aquino administration accountable for this act for corporate greed as control over the lands is usually through government-led initiatives such as the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program, agri-business venture arrangements (AVAs) and other non-land transfer schemes that violates the rights of the indigenous people to ancestral land and culture, as well as the farmers’ rights to genuine land reform.
“As we have been tasked by God to protect our brothers and sisters and His bio-diversed creations, we are duty-bound to oppose this plunderous act that instigates the poverty and hunger of hundreds of thousands of Lumad, including helpless children,” Aňover said.
RMP also urged parishioners near UP Diliman campus to visit the Manilakbayan 2015 camp-out beside Commonwealth avenue and to donate food, mattresses and their other needs. The Lumad from Mindanao would be at the university until November 1. ###
The RMP is a national organization, inter-congregational and inter-diocesan in character, of women and men religious, priests and lay. We live and work with the peasants (farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples and agricultural workers).