DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Agrarian reform beneficiaries in Davao region hope that incumbent Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano will be able to help them claim more than 6,000 hectares of contested land.
Nono Caspillo, 49, and one of the Board of Directors of Wadecor Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries from Carmen, Davao del Norte said they have been waiting to own the land given to them by the government as Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program beneficiaries since 1988.
“In 1988, the area was proclaimed to be covered by the CARP. But the Tagum Agricultural Development Company Inc. (Tadeco) requested for another 10 years deferment period saying their investment has not returned yet,” he said.
Caspillo said the deferment period lapsed in 1998 and the farmers claimed the land. However, he said the company wanted them to agree on a “lease-back scheme” where Tadeco would rent the land worth P5,000 per hectare per year.
“We did not agree on it and that was when our hardships started. We were harassed,” said Caspillo, a former aerial operator in the farm.
In 1999 they protested and the ARBs were “forced” to get out of the land. Until now, Caspillo said 193 ARBs are still awaiting resolution of the dispute.
Meanwhile, Lito Marzado, 52, said around 250 members of the LINDERBAI are also waiting for the resolution of their case involving 448 hectares of land in Panabo City.
He said he was thankful for President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointment of Mariano who comes from the farmers’ sector.
Mariano, a former representative under Anakpawis Partylist and a leader of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, was nominated by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to be appointed by Duterte as part of revolutionary movement’s peace negotiations with the government.
Caspillo and Marzado were among the farmers who troop to Roxas Avenue here on Tuesday, Sept. 5 to show support for the confirmation of Mariano who is scheduled to face the Commission on Appointments anew after his deliberation was suspended on August 30.
Both said Mariano’s advocacy leans towards the welfare of the farmers and they are hoping to own the land soon.
Lito Lao, vice chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Southern Mindanao region said they are currently assisting 11 organizations of agrarian reform beneficiaries who are awaiting the resolutions of their petitions before the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). Two of these organizations were already installed by the agency.
Lao said Mariano has been instrumental in the installation of 159 beneficiaries under the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc in the 145-hectare farm in Barangay San Isidro, Tagum City and in the 3,878 hectares covered by the reservation area inside the University of Southern Mindanao and the Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology.
In an interview with Davao Today, Lao mentioned the following disputed lands:
- 6,542 hectares of land including 80 hectares and 100 hectares claimed by Sta. Cruz Davao del Sur’s Coronon Balete Farmers Association and Bonafide Farmers Settlers Association Inc. (BOFISA)
- 67 hectares claimed by Banarao in Barangay Talandang, in Tugbok district, Davao City
- 51 hectares claimed by the Alberto Marfori Soriano Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organization (AMSARBO) in Kapalong town Davao del Norte province
- 500 hectares claimed by the Panabo Hemp Employees and Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc in Panabo City
- 110 hectares of the farmers in Checkered Farms Inc. in Barangay Tibungol in Panabo City
- 448 hectares of Linda District Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries in Panabo City
- 176 hectares of the WEARBAI in Carmen town in Davao del Norte
- 5,000 hectares of land reservation under the University of the Philippines in Mindanao.
However, Presidential Proclamation No. 1253 signed by former President Fidel V. Ramos on June 15, 1998 mentioned only an estimate of 4,100 hectares of land in Marilog district here for “research, extension, instruction purposes, watershed and forest rehabilitation and protection, bio-diversity conservation, crops and livestock production and management including, upland communities training and development center” of UP Mindanao.
Rene Estremera, public relations officer of UP Mindanao told Davao Today that the land “is not owned or titled to UP Mindanao.”
“We (are) just mandated to effect development there,” he said.
From July 2010 to December 2013, DAR has distributed a total of 751,514 hectares of the estimated 7.8 million hectares of land covered by CARP.
According to DAR’s website, “DAR still needs to acquire 771,795 hectares, while the DENR still needs to acquire 134,857 hectares—a total of 906,652 hectares.” (davaotoday.com)