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Vol. VI, No. 3      February 19 - 25, 2006      Quezon City, Philippines











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Farmers’ Homes Bulldozed to Pave Way for Revilla-owned Housing Project

Unabated tension and agony still linger among farmers in Cabangaan village after their houses were bulldozed to give way to a posh housing project by the Revilla clan.


SILANG, Cavite – Unabated tension and agony still linger among farmers in Cabangaan village after their houses were bulldozed to give way to a posh housing project by the Revilla clan.


Last Feb. 15, the farmers said the Revilla family hired construction workers to make fences that would enclose the 25-hectare land and prevent them from harvesting their crops. Several men, they said, took away their pineapples and bananas using the trucks of Imus Productions, a Revilla-owned movie outfit. They also discovered that the village’s water pump was missing, consequently depriving water to at least 1,300 residents, they said.

HOMELESS SUDDENLY: They are among the 77 children displaced by the demolition of farmers’ homes in Cabangaan village, Silang, Cavite 


These incidents took place amid ongoing negotiations between the Municipal Government of Silang, actor-senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., and government agencies for a just and reasonable relocation, and to recognize the legitimate rights of the 50 tenant-families who lost their homes and land to till.


Twelve days ago, police-supported demolition teams headed by Cavite’s police intelligence chief Rodel Sermonia tore down 44 houses within the disputed property of former senator and Public Reclamation Authority chair Ramon Revilla Sr. (Jose Bautista in real life). The human rights watch group Cavite Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace (CEMJP) stated the incident has displaced 191 individuals, including 77 children.


Angry residents said the police failed to give them formal notice and did not even show the demolition order from the court.


Land Row


The land dispute started in 2004 when the Revillas filed a case before the Department of Agrarian Reform’s Adjudicatory Board (Darab). The agrarian case went through the normal process. But as their legal case proved futile, the farmers decided to camp out and barricade the village in November 2004 to avert any demolition.


The Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Cabangaan (Samaca or Association of Farmers in Cabangaan), charged that the Revillas were able to get a demolition and eviction order from Darab “using their political influence.” Both Darab’s provincial and central offices issued a decision in Revilla’s favor.


Samaca chair Teodoro Garcia recalled that in December last year, Revilla Sr. spoke with them over the phone and told that it will be their last Christmas season in the village because he will pursue the demolition after New Year’s Day. Last January 28, Garcia said, one of them received text messages supposedly from Revilla saying their days are already numbered.

WRECKING CREW: The demolition teams that tore down farmers’ houses in Cabangaan were beefed up by local police forces


Revilla Sr. denied he harassed the villagers and belied allegations portraying him as a land grabber.


The Kalipunan ng mga Magsasaka sa Kabite (Kamagsasaka-Ka or Farmers’ Federation in Cavite) clarified that: “Kailanma’y hindi inaangkin ng mga mamamayan dito ang lupang sakahang pag-aari ng mga Revilla. Patuloy lamang nilang iginigiit na marapat silang kilalanin bilang mga lehitimong tenante at hindi itrato na tulad ng mga iskwater gaya ng paratang sa kanila.(The people here are not claiming any agricultural land owned by the Revillas. They just demanding that they be recognized as legitimate tenants and not squatters as they are portrayed to be.)


Legitimate Tenants


According to 76-year old Caridad Mercado – the oldest resident in the village – the tenants arrived in Cabangaan in 1911, shortly after the eruption of Taal volcano. Many displaced residents from nearby towns of Taal, Bauan and Talisay in Batangas founded a settlement where they bushwhacked and started tilling the land. Since then, the land slowly turned into a rice and coconut farm.


In the 1950s, a certain Emiliano Asuncion claimed the land. The Asuncions and the farmers sealed a landowner-tenant relationship, with the latter agreeing to pay land rent in the form of money or crops.


Revilla Sr., who was known for his Robin Hood, amulet-bearing character in action films, purchased the land from the Asuncions in 1972. Part of their agreement was that the tenants would be retained and the landlord-tenant relationship will continue.


As the paddies were replaced with pineapples and coffee trees, the farmers entered into a written leasehold agreement with the Revillas in the early 1990s. Since then, they paid P1,500 per hectare annually as part of the contract. The tenant-farmers religiously paid their rent, Kamagsasaka-Ka stated. But in 1998, Revilla Sr. refused to accept the rentals for the simple reason that he doesn’t need it because he has plenty of money already.


In 2002, Revilla Sr. accused the farmers of illegal squatting and ordered then to abandon the land within six months, Kamagsasaka-Ka said. This compelled them to organize to assert their rights as legitimate tenants of Revilla’s land.


Last year, around 300 fully-armed elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP)-Silang, Regional Mobile Group, Regional Investigation Unit, Cavite Criminal Investigation and Detection Team and the military, raided Cabangaan in search of New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas.


Kamagsasaka and Samaca stated that instead of "agimat ng masa” (amulet of the masses), Revilla Sr. should be called "nagpapalayas ng magsasaka” (evictor of farmers). “Hinding-hindi iiwan ng mga magsasaka ang lupang kanilang kinagisnan,” (The peasants will never leave the land where they saw the light of day) both groups further said. Bulatlat




© 2006 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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