On the continuing violation of the right to land and life of Lumad communities in Misamis Oriental, Philippines

It is with utmost alarm and indignation that we in PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) convey our condemnation of the reported continuing violation of the human rights of the Lumad group Higaonon from Misamis Oriental province in the Philippines.

The Higaonon people of Lagonglong town in Misamis Oriental have been driven away again from their ancestral lands and forced to abandon their livelihoods due to alleged relentless harassment by units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

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Photo from sunstar.com.ph

As advocates of the right to land and life of peasant and indigenous communities, we stand in solidarity with the Lumad in their struggle to return to their home and way of life safe from any form of intimidation.

Based on reports from our friends and partners in the Philippines, soldiers allegedly peppered a local school with bullets and looted houses. When the people left to flee the military atrocities, the soldiers set up camp in front of the area where the Lumad evacuated. The military justifies its actions by claiming that the locals are supporters or members of the armed rebel group New People’s Army (NPA).

But the inhumanity reportedly being committed by soldiers against the Lumad – including children who now suffer various illnesses in the evacuation center, not to mention the deep trauma from their ordeal – is absolutely unacceptable even when carried out in the name of government’s counter-insurgency campaign. The military is, in fact, fanning the insurgency as more and more rural families in the Philippine countryside become displaced and landless.

We join the Lumad in their unwavering assertion for land and life as we express deep hope that the incoming new Philippine administration and its stated willingness to peacefully deal with the decades-old insurgency would open up opportunities for the Lumad to return home and live in peace on their lands that have nurtured them for generations. ###

Reference: Ms. Sarojeni Rengam, PAN Asia Pacific, Executive Director,nolandnolife@panap.net

Agroecology multiversity launched: “It’s a school, community and movement rolled into one”

PENANG, Malaysia – From a field-learning site somewhere in the Philippine countryside, a farmer shares through an online video platform his experience and best practices on how to grow vegetables without using harmful agrochemicals and make decent earnings. His audience includes fellow vegetable growers in Malaysia, agriculture students in South Korea, a scientist from New Zealand and organic food advocates in the US. A lively exchange of ideas followed, with all the participants learning new knowledge and insights on how to maximize and further advance agroecological farming.

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The setting described above is one of the various ways of how the online portal and global network of field-learning sites called International People’s Agroecology Multiversity (IPAM) is being envisioned by its proponents. Penang-based regional advocacy group PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) officially launched the IPAM today to also mark the World Environment Day.

“There is a tremendous wealth of knowledge and experience on the ground on how small farmers practice agroecology. The challenge is how do we bring all these together, and disseminate and enrich them in a systematic way. We hope that IPAM could be that platform,” said Anwar Fazal, a leading grassroots environmental activist in Malaysia and one of the brains behind IPAM.

IPAM will also be a storehouse of researches and other published materials on agroecology that farmers, activists, scientists, researchers, policy makers, and others can access. Modules and online and onsite training courses on agroecological farming are also offered.

Amid the dim prospects of worsening global hunger, intensifying climate change and continuing predominance of chemical-intensive, environmentally unsustainable corporate agricultural production, agroecology emits a glimmer of hope. The United Nations (UN) says that agroecology can double food production, mitigate climate change and alleviate poverty – good news in the face of increasingly severe typhoons and droughts as more than a billion people – most of whom are those who directly produce the world’s food themselves – go to bed hungry every night.

For PANAP, which has been campaigning against harmful pesticides and promoting food sovereignty, IPAM is part of strengthening the people’s movement that challenges profit-driven, corporate control of agriculture and food production. “The heart and soul of IPAM are the field-learning sites where farmers and agroecology and food sovereignty advocates and experts learn from each other not only through online sharing but as well as through actual study visits, immersions and even solidarity actions. So for us, IPAM is a tool not just for research and learning but equally important, it’s also a venue to facilitate people’s collective action and movement building,” PANAP executive director and IPAM international coordinator Sarojeni Rengam said.

The IPAM is accessible at http://ipamglobal.org/. ###

For more information, contact:
Sarojeni V. Rengam at sarojeni.rengam@panap.net
PANAP phone number: +6046570271
Or Marjo Busto Quinto at marjo.busto@panap.net

PANAP lauds appointment of peasant leader Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano as Philippine agrarian reform chief

The PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) joins the peasant movement in the Philippines in welcoming the appointment of Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano as the new Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) by incoming President Rodrigo Duterte.

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Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano giving the keynote address at the 2013 PANAP Congress

Ka Paeng’s appointment is certainly a very positive development for advocates of genuine agrarian reform. As a long-time leader of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines or KMP), Ka Paeng has a solid track record in defending the rights of farmers over land and other productive resources.

As one of our most reliable partners in the campaign against land grabbing and promotion of people’s food sovereignty, we have witnessed how KMP led by Ka Paeng and other peasant leaders has tirelessly worked to advance the interests and welfare of small and poor farmers, including the landless, not only in the Philippines but in the region as well.

PANAP has always valued the sharp insights of Ka Paeng, even when he was already a member of the Philippine Congress, in advancing various peasant campaigns in Asia Pacific. He was a member of PANAP’s Task Force on Food Sovereignty that conceptualized and led, among others, the People’s Caravan on Food Sovereignty, which mobilized 500 organizations in 16 countries.

We hope that Ka Paeng’s appointment will also serve as an inspiration for the peasant movement in the region. It affirms that through unwavering struggle, even the powers that be is forced to recognize the need to put peasant activists in government to push for meaningful policy reforms that will truly benefit the oppressed and exploited farmers.

But we also acknowledge that even with Ka Paeng at the helm of the agrarian reform ministry, pro-farmer reforms will not automatically happen as long as the overall agrarian and agricultural development program remains biased to landlords and big corporations. Thus, as our friends in KMP know, while Ka Paeng’s appointment as DAR Secretary is a new and exciting chapter in our struggle, we must persevere more in our work to further strengthen the peasant movement in the Philippines and in the region. ###

Reference: Ms. Sarojeni V. Rengam, Executive Director, nolandnolife@panap.net

Know more about Ka Paeng