Philippines: La Via Campesina’s South East and East Asia members reiterate support for the land struggle in Sumalo

The South East and East Asian members of La Via Campesina have reiterated the global peasant movement’s support and solidarity with the land struggles of the peasants of Sumalo in the Philippines, which have lasted for more than two decades.

The Residents of Sumalo, Bataan, are again facing eviction after their municipal government sought to put a 200-hectare tract of land under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). This is despite a Supreme Court (SC) ruling that says the property is unsuitable for agricultural use. For over two decades, vested interests have sought government approval to develop this 200-hectare property and tap it for industrial use, which Sumalo residents highly contested.

Members of La Via Campesina’s South East and East Asian Women Articulation that recently held its regional meeting in Manila, Philippines, met with the peasant communities of Sumalo. The visiting members issued a signed letter of support to the local organization SANAMABASU (organization of the United People of Baangay Sumalo), which is leading this struggle. PARAGOS, LVC’s member organization in the country, also has expressed solidarity with the people of Sumalo.

Here is the complete statement issued by the LVC delegates.

Peasants have the right to live with dignity. Peasants feed the world, and peasant women most especially play significant roles in the survival of their respective families and in ensuring food sovereignty. Therefore, peasant women and their households must have full access and control over the lands they till, use and manage the land and natural resources, and be free from any form of discrimination and violence. These rights are all affirmed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP). The Philippines is one of the 121 States that voted for UNDROP’s adoption.

We, at LA VIA CAMPESINA WOMEN ARTICULATION OF SOUTH EAST AND EAST ASIA, strongly believe that these rights should be enjoyed by all peasants, including the Filipino peasants, and that the government of the Philippines should recognize, respect, and fulfil their rights.

The peasant members of SAMAHAN NG NAGKAKAISANG MAMAYAN NG BARANGAY SUMALO (SANAMABASU) have long struggled for their land and food sovereignty and have won their agrarian case but remain deprived of these rights.

Therefore, we strongly support SANAMABASU in their plight and call on all duty bearers of peasant rights to immediately implement the local laws of agrarian reform, provide security and safety to the people of Sumalo and proceed with land distribution urgently.

We further call on duty bearers to address the multiple issues peasant women in Barangay Sumalo have been experiencing daily.

Signed in Manila, Philippines, this 20th day of September 2022.