The march on foot of the Sumilao Farmers from Bukidnon will begin tomorrow (October 9), roughly at 6 a.m. We are expecting it to finish more or less on December 10, when the farmers arrive here in Manila. [passes the mike to Ms Ligmon]
We were given 66 hectares of land by Brother Carlos. The land that was given to us was not big enough for our families. (In actuality, the Sumilao Farmers had to pay rent for the land.) Since 1997, we have been monitoring the progress of our case and we have been waiting for the outcome.
[Ms Ligmon points to the 10-year old campaign poster - see below.]
Our children were still young then, and I was younger, but until now nothing has happened. From the very beginning we have dedicated our hard work not solely for ourselves, but for everyone… for the entire Philippines.
When the agrarian reform was threatened to be discontinued, we worked hard to counter the movement so that we farmers will still be given our land. I think that the land of those millionaires should be given to farmers for livelihood.
Had the land been given to us, then today, there would already be professionals in our community. However, because the land that they gave us was inadequate, we were not able to send some of our children to college. Our dream is to have children who will help us by going to school because we are ignorant. We cannot fight against the government which has been deceiving us.
We want our children to study agriculture so that they will know the laws for the farmers, which we do not know. Because the government has been deceiving us, we find ourselves in this position.
We want to change the laws and we will show the government that we will not stop. We are poor, but we will walk from Bukidnon to Manila to show them that we will not stop fighting for our rights. Madame President, we were the cause of your victory. This is our plea. Before President Arroyo was good to us. Things have changed. Until today, nothing has happened despite the fact that we have been fighting for our rights.
To the Congress, to the Senate, and to the officials whom we have helped, like AKBAYAN: help us now. Help us because we were the cause of your victory. Our plea is this: help us… Manny Villar wants to buy land in Bukidnon, but we are not selling.