MARBAI farmers reclaim contested land in Tagum

May. 19, 2017

RIGHTFUL OWNERS. Farmers under the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Inc., raise their fists on the day of their reinstallation at the contested San Isidro farm area in Barangay San Isidro, Madaum, Tagum City on Thursday, May 18. (Paulo C. Rizal/

TAGUM CITY, Philippines — The 159 farmer claimants under the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Inc., successfully took over the lands they lost almost seven years ago on Thursday.

As early as 4 am, May. 18, the agrarian reform beneficiaries, along with at least 5,000 members of support groups gathered in front of the contested San Isidro (Sanid) farm area in Barangay San Isidro, Madaum in Tagum City to prepare for the reinstallation.

Antonio Tuyak, a member of the Marbai’s Board of Directors, said they were going to enter the premises with or without the presence of the Tagum Police, fearing what they called “delaying tactics.”

In an interview with reporters, Tuyak said they feared a replay of the failed reinstallation attempt on April, wherein the police refused to give assistance given the dispute of jurisdiction between the Davao City Regional Trial Court Branch 14 and the Department of Agrarian Reform.

Read related story: Lapanday says DAR has ‘no authority’ to issue Writ of Installation

At around 10:30 am, after the final ultimatum given by the DAR and police to finish clearing operations had passed, the farmers broke open the gate of the Sanid farm area, only to see a barricade of cyclone wires and box culverts too heavy to lift without heavy equipment. A few minutes later, the farmers started breaking the other parts of the wall with jackhammers and steel cutters.

The farmers successfully entered the premises at around 11:30 am.

Dako ning kalipay bisag pinugos pagsulod gumikan kay naa pay paglangan gamay kay murag giingnan ta nga gusto pa nila ug proseso. Pero ang mga kaubanan, ang mga mag-uuma sama kanamo nga mga memymbro taga marbai di nami gusto ug proseso pa kay humana ang mga legal proseso (This is a big cause for celebration on our part, even though we had to take it through our own hands because they were delaying us with “processes.” Our supporters, farmers like us, have followed these procedures before),” Tuyak said.

DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano praised the farmers for their unity, saying that it was their efforts, above all others that was the most important factor in their victory.

“In the long history of the struggle of the farmers, and in the long time that I was in the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, the experience of farmers teaches us that the primary way for farmers to assert, defend, and fight for their right to land is their organized and united movement, firm unity, and determination, he said.

Mariano also recognized the efforts of government agencies and President Rodrigo Duterte who engaged the farmers in a dialogue in Mendiola on May 9.

The Marbai broke away from the Hijo Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Coopreative – 1 in 2010 after its members decided not to honor what they called “onerous agreements” with the Lapanday Foods Corporation.

Marbai chairperson Mely Yu said they were only paid P2,000 a month, and that Lapanday classified their bananas to a lower grade to buy them at a cheaper price.(davaotoday,com)

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