ON April 30, 2015, we the 21 Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs), by virtue of our Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) Numbers 00276805 (TCT-780) and 00276806 (TCT-781) covering the parcel of land in Brgy. Matica-a, have reclaimed the land promised to us by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law via self-installation.
Twelve (12) days after our self-installation, we are prodded to say to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) – SAKTO NA (ENOUGH)!
While we are grateful that DAR has acknowledged and assisted us after our bid for self-installation, the never-ending accommodation of demands from the other farm workers’ group has rendered the validity of our CLOAs useless.
A History of Compromise
In December of 1999, we were installed by DAR after we were identified to be qualified beneficiaries based on Section 22 of the RA 6657, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL). During that time, no protests from any group of farmworkers were heard. We were able to clear the land which was previously planted with sugar cane by the management of Fran Farms, Inc. We converted it into rice farms, through sheer manual work, and made it productive. During this time, a small group of farm workers occupied seven (7) hectares of the 25 has. we were farming. Wanting to avoid conflict and violence, we continued on with our agricultural activities, confining ourselves to the remaining 18 hectares of land.
On our second cropping, we produced more robust rice plants which promised better yield. We were denied that promise of better harvest when we were driven out of our land through the barrel of the guns of armed men, and even some military personnel.
What followed were the long and tedious legal processes, which always yielded victory for our group. Despite these, DAR was still unable to install us back in our land. In 2002, wanting to possess our land, we agreed to a compromise agreement, authored by DAR Legal, giving the 21 hectares of land to the Fran Farm Workers who occupied our land, and keeping the 25 has. to ourselves. Again, DAR failed to install us even with this compromise agreement.
Numerous meetings and dialogues ensued thereafter, keeping us at bay for fifteen (15) years.
In the midst of our self-installation, we are once again being asked to sign a compromise agreement. We were ready to do so. Only, the agreement is teeming with delays due to changing positions and demands. We suddenly found ourselves in a similar situation as before, waiting and negotiating even when we no longer have to.
We reiterate our position for DAR to –
- Put an end to the tedious process of negotiations with the other group giving way to changing positions and demands, and consummate the installation of the 21 Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries. SAKTO NA (ENOUGH)!
- Provide a PNP detachment in the area for at least two (2) cropping seasons, or until such time that the threats to our lives and crops have stopped;
- Conduct a relocation survey of the said properties;
- Provide support services, i.e., tractors, etc. as promised during the dialogue with DAR Regional Director Shiela B. Enciso and other DAR Officials and Officers.
Bugho Farmers Association
Katarungan Eastern Visayas