“Gipasulod mi nila sa covenant para maundang ang gubot, pero wala man pud nasunod ang kasabotan (They made us agree to the covenant to resolve the conflict but they did not comply).” – Lilia Gicana, 54, a CLOA holder from Sitio Lacobe, Malabuan village, Makilala town
By DANILDA FUSILERO
MAKILALA, Cotabato, Philippines – Farmer-beneficiaries who were awarded an Original Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) over a 178-hectare land deserted by the Baclid clan at the height of the vigilante Ilaga-Blackshirt war in the ‘70s, cry foul over a failed relocation agreement brokered by the provincial governor and the agrarian reform secretary.
The CLOA holders heeded the suggested relocation by the local government units and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) through a covenant with the Baclids which they signed in March last year. The agreement cited that the 65 farmer-beneficiaries will be provided with relocation. This was not, however, followed.
“Gipasulod mi nila sa covenant para maundang ang gubot, pero wala man pud nasunod ang kasabotan (They made us agree to the covenant to resolve the conflict but they did not comply),” Lilia Gicana, 54, a CLOA holder from Sitio Lacobe, Malabuan village told davaotoday.com in an interview.
The agreement, Gicana said, was to relocate them to vacant lots but it turned out that those areas are already owned by someone else.
Also, on the final list, only 21 of the affected 65 original farmer-beneficiaries were accommodated, according to Gicana.
She said it seemed to them that the Baclids were given favor by the government in spite of being the actual tillers who were awarded with the land by virtue of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law in the ‘80s.
The disputed 178 hectares was declared by DAR to be given to the Baclids during the Muslim thanksgiving festival Kanduli sa Kalinaw ug Kalambuan last January 31.
North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza also signified the Kanduli as the “end of the decades-long land conflict in Lacobe,” in an interview over a local radio station.
But contrary to the celebratory mood projected by officials, farmer-beneficiaries like Gicana feel deceived. Now they feel that the government-brokered resolution even jeopardized their stake over the land previously-awarded to them.
“Kani ba ang pinakasayon nga resolution, ang paglegalize sa pagkapapha namo gikan sa among mga luna (Is this their easiest way to legalize our eviction?),” she asked.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) has expressed dismay over the incident.
“Imbis resolbahon ang problema nga patas, nagpakita naman noon og klarong pagkiling ang gobyerno sa usa ka partido sa bangi (Instead of resolving the conflict with impartiality, what the government has shown is a clear bias to one party),” KMP provincial chairperson Noli Lapaz said.
Lapaz pointed out that this incident only manifests the warped characteristic of the government’s agrarian reform law, even saying that such move could have been done in haste to establish a peaceful entry of possible investors in the area.
“The government’s agrarian reform law is lousy and fake to truly afford social justice to millions of landless farmers,” he said as he called for the support of the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) that has been gaining dust in the halls of Congress. Lapaz emphasized that only GARB recognizes the preferential rights of the landless farmers and actual tillers.
Earlier, the underground National Democratic Front-Far Southern Mindanao Region also issued a statement accusing the provincial government of facilitating palliative resolution to the problem. It also said that the military’s 57th and 38th Infantry Battalions are cuddling the Baclids, posing threats to the displaced farmer-beneficiaries. (Danilda L. Fusilero/davaotoday.com)