Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Volume 3,  Number 6              March 9 - 15, 2003            Quezon City, Philippines

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One Farmer Dies, 2 Others Wounded 
in Agrarian Reform Violence 

2 photo-journalists also harassed in La Carlota

Agrarian reform farmer-beneficiaries who have occupied a land awarded to them are attacked by a rival farmworkers’ union identified with the Benedictos last Thursday. One was killed and two others were wounded in the fracas.

By Edgar A. Cadagat and Karl G. Ombion

BACOLOD CITY -- Barely two months after several violent confrontations between farmer-beneficiaries and landowners backed by their security guards and the police took place in different parts of Negros Occidental, another melee broke out between the same protagonists last March 6.

In the Thursday incident, a worker died while another was wounded when members of a rival workers’ union identified with the landlowner and backed by blue guards allegedly attacked them in Hacienda Ezperanza, Barangay (village) Nagasi, La Carlota, central Negros Occidental.

Local photojournalist Archie Rey Alipalo and a companion, visiting Japanese photojournalist Munesuke Yamamoto who came to cover the dispute, were also repeortedly harassed by Kitchie Benedicto’s daughter and a group of workers who were with her. Yamamoto is with the Tokyo-based Pacific Press Service.

Dead from a single wound which hit him in the shoulder was Diony Gaylan, 29, while a 57-year old worker, Monserat Zayco, was wounded. Zayco was hit in the back with a .38 caliber bullet which exited through his elbow. He was brought to the Don Salvador Hospital in La Carlota.

Also wounded was Angeles Gaylan, 63,  mother of Diony whose elbow was grazed by bullets.


Agriculture Secretary Roberto Pagdanganan himself came to Hacienda Esperanza Friday and vowed justice for the victims among the farmer-beneficiaries.

“We are determined to implement the agrarian reform , and for the meantime, we will ensure that no further untoward incident happens while studying a permanent solution to the problem,” Pagdanganan said.

Fr. Rodrigo Anoran of the Philippine Independent Church (PIC) who is helping the farm workers and Angelito Estama of the Nagasi Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries- Multipurpose Cooperative (NARB-MC) said that they were working on a parcel of land - lot 799 - awarded to them under the government’s agrarian program Thursday afternoon when a group of workers belonging to Workers Amalgamated Union of the Philippines (WAUP) led by Malibu Agricultural Corporation’s manager Jomar Alonzo and backed by four tractors and blue guards arrived. A confrontation immediately took place with the alleged attackers trying to drive the farmer-beneficiaries away.

During the melee, shots rang out. Gaylan, his mother and Zayco were hit by .38 caliber revolvers. The bullet that hit Gaylan on the shoulder lodged in his chest without exiting. He died in the hospital for loss of blood.

The farmer-beneficiaries said the rival group who are loyal to the Benedictos were carrying short arms while blue guards were armed with shotguns. Farmer-beneficiaries retaliated by hurling cans filled with kerosene which brought fire to a nearby sugarcane field. The fire was put out by firemen that arrived later.

They also said policemen belonging to the RMG, soldiers and La Carlota City policemen who were around just stood by as the farmer-beneficiaries were being attacked by the enraged rival workers.

The farmer-beneficiaries were only working on the parcel of lands awarded them under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Fierce conflict had previously broken out as the WAUP-affiliated workers insisted that the parcel of land should instead be awarded to them. The farmer-beneficiaries and the Benedicto heirs with Jomar Alonzo, farm manager, had been at odds since then.


Named by witnesses as the alleged gunmen were Marcelo de la Cruz and Henry Caspe. Also identified by the farmer-beneficiaries as carrying guns were Rey Mondia and a certain Gavino.

A confrontation also took place between Alipalo of the Visayas Daily Courier/Cobra-ans and Yamamoto on one hand and Benedicto and her men after the latter started harassing the Japanese photo-journalist, it was reported.

The Benedicto men shoved Yamamoto and tried to grab his camera. When Alipalo intervened saying they were journalists, one of Benedicto’s men hit him with his knuckles in the back of his head.

Fortunately, RMG policemen intervened and brought Alipalo and Yamamoto to safety.

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has subjected 553 hectares of some 568 hectares of Hacienda Esperanza under land reform coverage, and identified 216 beneficiaries.

The lands awarded to the NARB-MPC however were questioned by the Benedictos’ lawyer saying there are other members of the WAUP who are also assigned to lot 779. The hacienda owners also said that the land survey and the identification of the beneficiaries are not yet over as the DAR ordered the cancellation of its old CLOA, in preparation for a new one. Bulatlat.com / Cobra-Ans

Photos by Archie Rey Alipalo

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