DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Tension erupted between farmers and security personnel of Lapanday Foods Corporation in San Isidro, Madaum at Tagum City during a protest rally Friday.
The protest rally was participated by members of Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries, Inc. and the “Unyon Sa Mga Mag-Uuma Alang Sa Tinood Nga Repormang Agraryo (Farmers’ Union For Genuine Agrarian Reform).”
The LFC’s security personnel who were manning the banana plantation’s entrance gate fired a warning shot after a brief intense confrontation with the farmers, Marbai said.
Antonio Tuyac, spokesperson of Marbai, told DavaoToday in an interview that LFC’s security personnel fired at least 31 gunshots when their group is about to enter the plantation.
“We entered the area, thank God no one was hurt or wounded, none from us nor from the supporters,” Tuyac said.
Meanwhile, Kerlan Fanagel of Pasaka Lumad Confederation in Southern Mindanao, said “the gate which were put up with cyclone wires were removed then we heard the gunshots,” Fanagel said. “At first we thought we were at war.”
“Because of the experiences of the urban farmlands protesting were told to be carrying arms with them, what we did here in Lapanday [LFC] is to prove the farmers are civilians,” he added.
Tuyac’s group set-up a camp out just near the plantation’s gate to demand that the parcel of land occupied by LFC must be returned to them. This comes after LFC, six years ago, had padlocked the gates of the plantation after it refused to heed Marbai’s demand.
He pointed out that the lands were granted to the farmers for about 16 years in an agreement between the Agri-Ventures Agreement and LFC.
In July 1999, the rights for the land was granted for the farmers. But the 145 hectares of land parchment inside the plantation compound was said to be granted to Marbai.
“This is our land which has been occupied by the LFC for six years. That is why we reclaim this now,” Tuyac said.
Farmers are demanding about 140 hectares of lands which would be divided among 228 farmer-members of Marbai. (davaotoday.com)