Looming Massive Displacement, Farmers Protest SMC’s Take-Over of MRT 7 Project

March 12, 2010

Farmers from Bgy. Tungkong Mangga, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan protested today at San Miguel Corp. main office in Ortigas Center opposing Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco’s take-over of the MRT 7 project. Tungkong Mangga is the site of the 200-hectare inter-modal station of the 23-kilometer MRT 7 composed of the light train’s station, malls, condominiums and terminals for buses heading northern Luzon. It also connects a 45-kilometer access road to the Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX). The farmers are members of Tungkong Mangga Upland Farmers Association, Inc. (TMUFAI), San Isidro Samahang Sandigan ng Magsasaka (SASAMAG) and Samahang Magsasaka sa Sitio Dalandanan (SAMAGDA), organized by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) .

“We know the caliber of Danding Cojuangco when it comes to oppressing Filipino farmers. He has yet to return the P130-billion coco levy and now he is pushing for the this MRT 7 project,” said Antonio Flores, KMP Spokesperson.

KMP said that displacements of farmers have been taking place since November last year, particularly in Sitio Dalandanan of the said bgy. The Gregorio Araneta Inc. (GAInc.) and Araneta Properties Inc. are filing unlawful detainer cases against about 30 farming families. Some of them have been farming for 3 to 4 decades.

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“We are here to register our strong opposition to the dislocation measures against the farmers. They have developed and cultivated the lands for decades and the Aranetas has no legal claim of the lands as they pawned the lands to a Marcos-crony Manila Banking Corp., which was eventually financed by the Central Bank as it declared bankruptcy in the 1980s,” said Flores.

“The lands are disputed and the agrarian issue is at the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), thus, there is no justification to displace them to give way to the MRT 7 project,” he added.

The lands in Tungkong Mangga has been controlled by the Araneta family, relatives of vice-presidential aspirant Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas III. KMP has been calling to Roxas to convince his relatives to cease in displacing farmers and distribute the lands.

KMP said the Danding Cojuangco has been a major beneficiary of the Arroyo government who secured him to keep the hundreds of billions of coco levy funds extracted from coconut farmers during the martial law. He was also able to expand his landholdings from 3,000 hectares to 30,000 hectares using Arroyo government’s policies and programs.

“This would be a fierce battle between the powerful and powerless, oppressor and oppressed, Danding Cojuangco is the icon of bureaucrat capitalism, feudalism and imperialism, the three fundamental evils in our society causing poverty and hardships to majority of the Filipinos,” Flores said.

“We will also table this to candidates running for president, this issue is of national importance. We will be attending the presidential forum at Trinity University of Asia this afternoon and we will ask the presidentiables about this,” Flores said.

“We will not allow farms to be destroyed by this project, we will oppose this until end. Thus, we call on all sectors to support us in our struggle,” called Flores.

REFERENCE: Roy Morilla, Public Information Officer

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