Two Aquino presidents and 29 years after Mendiola Massacre, no land and justice for farmers

January 20, 2016

Bulacan farmers raise anew land dispute issues to DENR, DAR

By KMP

Farmers from San Jose Del Monte City under the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan (AMB) will launch a series of protest actions and dialogues starting today in commemoration of the 29th year of the infamous Mendiola Massacre on Friday.

According to Eriberto Pena, leader of AMB, a local chapter of peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), “the situation of farmers in San Jose del Monte City is a living testimony of how current and previous administrations perpetuated landlessness and land grabbing.”

“The same issues raised by thousands of farmers who joined the January 1987 week-long protest at the then Ministry of Agrarian Reform (now Department of Agrarian Reform) and Mendiola are the same issues faced by farmers of San Jose Del Monte City. Then and now, there is no genuine land reform and farmers remain victims of perennial land grabbing,” Pena said.

No lands, no justice

Farmers from Sitio Carahume in the boundary of Norzagary and Barangay San Isidro, San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan, are demanding the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to close down the WACUMAN Sanitary Landfill and a rubber melting company operating in the area as both companies are causing severe destruction of the environment and health issues to farmers. “This is not the first time that we called on DENR’s attention to address this environmental issue. So far, Secretary Ramon Paje have neglected our concerns,” says Pena.

Meanwhile, farmers from Barangay San Isidro are also protesting the land grabbing spree of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Using the expired Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), the BSP started to survey some 700 hectares of lands occupied by farmers in October 2014.

The lands being sought by the BSP were originally being claimed by the Manila Brickworks Corp. of the Puyat family and was sold to the Villar family-owned Capitol Bank (later Optimum Bank). In 1998, the said lands allegedly owned by the Manila Brickworks Corp. and Capitol Bank were mortgaged to the BSP. The old TCTs were cancelled and new nine (9) titles, Transfer of Certificates of Titles (TCT) Nos. T-48694 to T-48702, were issued to BSP.

Farmer leader of Samahang Pinagbuklod ng Magsasaka sa San Isidro (PINAGBUKLOD), Sherlyn Koyano said their ancestors were already occupying and cultivating the lands since the 1960s.

“The DAR placed our lands under CARP in 1996 or two years before the highly illegal mortgage to the BSP. But only after a year, in 1997, the DAR immediately issued an order exempting our lands from coverage. This clearly shows how the CARP was used against farmers in order to strengthen the illegal and dubious claims of landlords,” Koyano said.

Koyano said that in spite of the exemption order, the farmers were forced to pay land amortizations. In fact, many farmer-beneficiaries have fully or partially paid their amortization dues under the CARP.

The AMB also accused “local officials of the DAR for conniving with the BSP.”

Farmers will camp out at DAR today until tomorrow and on Friday, January 22, farmers from Central Luzon will march to Mendiola to make BS Aquino III accountable for the continuing injustice and landlessness endured by farmers. ###