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9(b) B4-0966 and 0982/97

Resolution on the importance of continuing the land reform in the Philippines

The European Parliament,

A. having regard to the tens of millions of ECU given in aid by the European Union since 1986 to the Philippines government to assist in the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme (CARP), including support for such projects in five provinces in the Philippines which were only agreed in 1994,

B. having regard to the results achieved so far in the progress of the land reform programme,

C. having regard to the hunger strike by some twenty Lumad farmers from Sumilao, Bukidnon, in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Manila as a protest against the return of 144 hectares of land to a major land owner (the Quisumbing family) by Executive Secretary Ruben Torres, when this land had previously been granted to the farmers by the DAR as part of the land reform programme,

D. whereas after a 28-day hunger strike President Ramos granted 100 of the 144 hectares of land to the Lumad farmers and whereas the farmers then ended the hunger strike,

E. whereas the Quisumbing family has subsequently surrounded these 144 hectares of land with a barbed wire fence and has it guarded by dozens of armed men,

F. whereas at least four comparable cases have now come to light (in the provinces of Bataan, Rizal, Bulacan and Cavite) where Executive Secretary Torres has given the land back to the original owners after it had been granted to the farmers by the DAR,

G. whereas there are still hundreds of applications for land reform awaiting consideration at the regional offices of the DAR,

H. disturbed at reports of the disappearance on 1 April 1997 of Romeo Cortes, a farmers' leader, and the arrest on 12 July 1997 of Gaudencio Devaras, a community leader, by members of the armed forces,

I. aware of the death sentences passed on several persons, and reaffirming its rejection of the death penalty,

J. disturbed at reports of several serious instances of torture,

1. Urges President Ramos and the Philippines government to put fully into effect the decision to grant 100 hectares of land to the farmers from Sumilao;

2. Calls on the Philippine authorities to ensure that the farmers are not threatened and intimidated by the armed personnel of the Quisumbing family;

3. Calls on President Ramos and the Philippines government to grant land to the farmers in the comparable cases which have now come to light;

4. Calls on President Ramos and the relevant Philippine authorities as a matter of urgency to pay special attention before the elections in May 1998 to implementation of the law on agrarian reform and to ensure that the delays which have occurred in consideration of the applications for land reform are made good;

5. Calls on the Philippines authorities to shed light on what has happened to Mr Cortes and Mr Devaras;

6. Calls on the Philippines Government to commute the death sentences passed on several of its citizens;

7. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the President of the Philippines, the governments of the Member States, the Council and the Commission.

Human Rights Resolutions by the European Parliament

Human Rights in the Philippines

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