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Where is all the land going?

MANILA (UCAN): Farmers have decried what they are calling the plunder of the land they till through “unbridled expansion of corporate agricultural plantations” in the southern region of Mindanao.

“There will be no more land in Mindanao even for cemeteries if plantations are allowed to expand,” Ranmil Echanis, the secretary-general of the Union of Agricultural Farmworkers, said.

Farmers, trade union advocates and a group of priests and sisters launched a network on October 28 that aims to resist the expansion of agricultural plantations in Mindanao.

In a statement, the group says the expansion of giant agricultural plantations has become too aggressive.

The launch of the Network Resisting Expansion of Agricultural Plantations was held days before Filipinos marked All Souls’ Day, a holiday when people troop to cemeteries to visit the departed from their families.

Echanis said, “Casualties and fatalities due to mining plunder and plantation expansion are piling up. There might not be enough land (to bury) the victims.”

The Rural Missionaries of The Philippines, an organisation of priests and sisters working in hinterland communities, the Peasant Movement of The Philippines, the Centre for Trade Union and Human Rights, and the Asia Monitor Resource Centre said in a separate statement, “It is a fight for their very survival.”

Ariel Casilao, the network’s spokesperson, said the expansion of plantations has given birth to investment defence forces—paramilitary groups that have been accused of human rights violations in rural communities in Mindanao.

Some 500,000 hectares, about 12 per cent of Mindanao’s agricultural land, have already been covered with plantation crops for the export market.

Government targets for plantation expansion include 256,360 hectares for sugarcane; 150,000 hectares for cacao by 2020; 116,000 hectares for rubber; 87,903 hectares for coffee plantations; and about one million hectares for oil palm plantations by 2030.


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