DAYS before President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address, thousands of farmers, indigenous peoples from Mindanao, Bicol and Southern Luzon provinces have started a national caravan for land and peace, the farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said on Friday.
“Caravan participants or lakbayanis have crossed lands and seas to raise the most urgent peoples’ issues that need to be addressed by President Duterte in his first Sona. This is our way to raise our concerns to the new administration,” KMP secretary-general Antonio Flores said.
“We expect the Sona mobilization on Monday to be the biggest-ever Sona rally that we will mount to challenge the new administration to deliver its promise of change.
“Farmers want President Duterte to strongly support and stand by Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano’s policy directive that no farmer shall be displaced from the land.
“We will also urge the President to certify as urgent the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill or GARB now filed as House Bill 555 at the House of Representatives.”
More than 1,200 traffic enforcers will be deployed to ensure the smooth flow of traffic at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City in connection with Duterte’s Sona.
“The deployment will be the same this year and we are prepared for the event,” said Emerson Carlos, chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority.
Carlos said the MMDA will start deploying traffic personnel at 12 a.m. Monday. The team will be composed of personnel from the agency’s traffic and rescue units and men from the sidewalk-clearing operation.
The national caravan started in Davao City and then proceeded to Eastern Visayas.
The lakbayanis are now in the Bicol region, and by tonight they will have reached Los Baños. They are expected to arrive in Metro Manila Saturday, where they will be welcomed by the NCR-based people’s organization in a solidarity gathering at the Quezon Memorial Circle.
Starting Saturday night, the lakbayanis will hold camp at the different offices along the Elliptical Circle in Quezon City including the Department of Agrarian Reform, Philippine Coconut Authority, Department of Agriculture and National Housing Authority.
On July 25, they will join the peoples’ Sona mobilization.