TACLOBAN CITY—At least 35 farmers from Leyte had set another journey to Manila on Saturday to seek a dialogue with agricultural officials in central office and press their demand for land rights.

“We’ll bring our issue to the Department of Agrarian Reform’s central office in the hope that our problems will get a solution,” said Dhon Daganasol, spokesperson of Katarungan-Eastern Visayas, a regional alliance of farmers and fisher folk associations advocating for land and shelter rights.

Daganasol added that their demands have remained unmet by agricultural officials in the region.

In Manila, the group will be met by another group of farmers supporting their cause.

Last February, the same group of farmer leaders trooped to Manila to air their grievances on land distribution in the region.

The farmer leaders came from the towns of Barugo, Carigara, Alangalang, Sta. Fe, San Miguel, Tacloban and Ormoc in Leyte, which were devastated by super typhoon Yolanda in November 2013.

Daganasol said that the farmers are protesting that despite the certificate of land ownership award or CLOA given to them as proof that they legally own their land, they remained uninstalled.

In a statement, Daganasol also alleged that, “In 20018, DAR Region 8 reported having accomplished the distribution of CLOA to about 21,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries in the municipalities of Alangalang, Barugo, Jaro and Ormoc alone when only hundreds have actually been given.”

“DAR Region 8 promised that they will have validation of undistributed CLOAs, but until now we are not sure when this will happen,” added Manuel Cayubit, farmer leader from Barugo.

The group also reported that “about 1,200 farmer beneficiaries in Ormoc, who are in possession of their CLOAs, remain uninstalled in 1,800 hectares of land, a decade after being awarded.”

While Rosenda Apay, president of Bugho Farmers Association in Ormoc, said that after their self-installation last April, they continue to “brave the harassment and threat from intruding group of farmers,” after DAR officials in the region allegedly failed to give them protection.

Last month, farmers from Ormoc went to DAR office in the city, demanding that DAR secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes should find out the real conditions in the province.

Baby Reyes of Rights Network, a non-governmental organization helping the protesting farmers in the region, told The Standard that the farmers’ patience is “already running out.”

“DAR officials have asked more time to study their issues, but the farmers can’t afford it anymore. The reason why they are going to central office again,” said Reyes, adding that the Leyte farmers were also moved with the reported successful installment of farmers in Hacienda Matias in Quezon.

“There’s something amiss in the implementation of the Agrarian Reform Law in Region 8,” Daganasol said.

According to Daganasol, farmers from the land previously covered by the Leyte Sab-A Basin Development Authority (LSBDA) also hoped to meet newly-appointed Commissioner Chito Gascon of the Commission on Human Rights “to elevate the human rights violation committed against them since the start of the process of CARP coverage on the said landholding.”

Originally published at Manila Standard Today, July 12, 2015


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