DAVAO DEL NORTE, Philippines— At least 100 Bukidnon farmers arrived in Manila Thursday, October 12 to bring their issues of lack of social services, irrigation, and the distribution of more than 500 hectares of land covered by the Central Mindanao University.
The protesting farmers were members of the Bukidnon Free Farmers Association and Laborers Organization (BUFFALO), Tried Agricultural Movers Association of Rural Active Workers (Tamaraw), and the Landless Tillers Inhabitants of Musuan (Limus), collectively known as BTL.
The BTL’s issue came after former President Carlos Garcia granted 3,401 hectares of land to Central Mindanao University through Presidential Proclamation 476 in 1958.
The farmers are fighting for their rights over the 517-hectare land covered by the CMU for more than 30 years. On Thursday afternoon, they started to put up a protest camp outside the Department of Agrarian Reform central office in Quezon City.
National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan) Chairperson Zen Soriano expressed support for the BTL farmers.
“Land is life for us, farmers. That is why fighting for our land means fighting for our lives,” she said.
Soriano said that CMU leased out part of the lands to the Philippine Packing Corporation (PPC) which hired farm workers to maintain a school-managed rice field project.
However, when the project failed, Soriano added that Buffalo farmers petitioned for the distribution of the land. In 1989, the DAR Adjudication Board (Darab) approved 400 hectares of land for distribution.
Other farmers had then formed Tamaraw and Linus to claim more of the land. But, in 1992, the Supreme Court ordered the cancellation of their Certificate of Land Ownership Awards, she pointed out.
Soriano viewed the problems besetting the Bukidnon farmers as a “decade-long struggle” of the farmers across the country. (davaotoday.com)