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Groups want land rent moratorium on 21 flood-affected provinces

By Charlie V. Manalo
01/11/2011 [ tribune.net.ph ]
Four of the biggest rural-based groups which include the militant farmer group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the peasant women federation Amihan and the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) yesterday called on President Aquino to impose moratorium on payment of land rent of farms damaged by heavy rains and flooding in 21 provinces in the regions of Caraga, Eastern Visayas, Bicol and five more regions all over the country.
KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos urged President Aquino to issue an executive order compelling landlords to refrain from collecting land rent in disaster ravaged areas affected by continuous massive flooding and landslides since December 2010 in at least 1,073 farming villages in eight regions, majority of those affected came from Caraga, Eastern Visayas and Bicol regions.
Ramos said landlords extraction of land rent from poor farmers usually ranges from 50 to 70 percent of the farmers produce which the KMP leader described as extremely exploitative and feudal slavery of the highest order.
“Aside from quick and substantial economic relief and assistance, we strongly compel the Aquino administration to impose land rent moratorium on payment of land rent of farms in devastated farming communities,” Ramos said in a press statement.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) last Sunday said more than 1 million people have been affected by floods and landslides caused by heavy rains and mass flooding in three regions.
The NDRRMC said landslides and floods affected 213,264 families or 1,120,685 people mostly farmers and small rural producers. Of the eight affected regions, Caraga is the hardest hit with 112,096 families or 601,804 persons.
In Eastern Visayas, floods and landslides took their tolls on 35,463 families or 185,675 persons, while in Bicol region, the disaster agency said 37,514 families or 191,777 persons were affected.
The NDRRMC said damage to property estimates stood at P747 million, including P174 million in agriculture, P574 million in infrastructure and P31,300 in private property. Damage to agriculture posted in Eastern Visayas — Southern Leyte, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar and Leyte was pegged at P46.230 million, while agricultural damage in Albay and Sorsogon totaled P17.408 million.
Ramos said aside from land rent moratorium, the government should also postpone payment of debts to landlords, traders and government financial groups like Quedancor and cancellation of interests to those with damaged crops.
Pamalakaya national chairman Fernando Hicap for his part demanded the Aquino government and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to provide financial compensation of P10,000 to P15,000 per hectare to farmers whose crops were damaged and order the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) to implement zero-interest credit line amounting to P10,000 to P15,000 per hectare to farmers.
Hicap said the same compensation package should be given to fisherfolk in affected regions. The Pamalakaya leader said the DA should provide financial and production subsidy to thousands of fisherfolk affected by landslides and mass flooding since December last year.
Pamalakaya also proposed a moratorium on irrigation fees of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and cancellation of back-accounts or payments of farmers not benefiting from irrigation.
The KMP said the acquisition of motorized water-pumps, pipes and tubes, tractors, hand tractors, farm tools and carabaos for the use of affected farmers, and fuel subsidy for their operation were also necessary to help farmers in calamity stricken areas.
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