“It is highly fraudulent that after the farmers paid amortization for the lands and the Land Bank paid compensation to the landowner, the DAR ordered the return of the land to the landowner.” – Samahan ng mga Magsasaka sa Batangas
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Rosa Segunial, 62, was among the 50 farmer-beneficiaries of agrarian reform covering a 53-hectare land in Coral ni Lopez village, Calaca, Batangas.
In 1993, a collective Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) was given to the farmers courtesy of the compulsory acquisition scheme under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
After almost 11 years, however, Segunial is about to lose more than a hectare of land she and her family have been tilling for more than four decades. Using the retention limit provision of the CARP, landlord Luis Lopez has been attempting to gain control over more than 100-hectares of land in Coral ni Lopez village.
On August 1, 2007, regional director Dominador Andres of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)-Calabarzon ordered the retention of five hectares of land to Luis Lopez and awarded three hectares each to his children Antonio, Manuel and Maria Victoria. On February 12, Segunial and her fellow farmers were shocked when the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office’s sheriff went to the village and told them that their collective CLOA will be canceled.
“It is really painful,” Segunial told Bulatlat.com in an interview. “We already paid for the land and now, they are taking it back.”
Segunial and other members of the Samahan ng mga Magsasaka sa Coral ni Lopez (Samacolo) and the Samahan ng mga Magsasaka sa Batangas (Sambat) stormed the DAR national office on Feb. 18.
Agaton Bautista, Sambat secretary general, said “the farmers were made to believe, in fact, were deceived by the DAR, that placing the land under CARP and paying for the collective CLOA will strengthen their claim over the lands.”
“It is highly fraudulent that after the farmers paid amortization for the lands and the Land Bank paid compensation to the landowner, the DAR ordered the return of the land to the landowner,” Bautista said.
Bautista said “the CARP’s provision on retention limit was used by the regional DAR and the Lopezes to perpetuate their control over the more than 120-hectare sugar land and to forcibly evict the farmers.”
He said that in 1992, the DAR and the Lopezes told the farmers that the landowner would retain land in Gimalas village in Balayan town, Batangas.
“Now, the DAR and the Lopezes are claiming that the latter is entitled to retain land in Calaca despite their continuing ownership and control over thousands of hectares of land in Mindoro and Negros in the Visayas. The Lopezes’ claim for retention limit is nothing but a maneuver to perpetuate control over the land,” Bautista said.
After the DAR-Calabarzon declared its ruling final and executory in February 2008, the Lopezes filed a petition for cancelation of CLOA. Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes will decide on the petition.
“We call on Secretary Delos Reyes to immediately stop the CARP implementation in Barangay Coral ni Lopez because it is the main culprit in the present land-grabbing in Calaca. We are more than ready to assert our rights to our lands in the face of the Lopezes land-grabbing,” Bautista said.
For its part, peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) backed the demand of the Batangas farmers to stop the CARP implementation in Coral ni Lopez village.
Rafael Mariano, KMP chairman said the Calaca farmers’ experience is among the strongest bases for the Filipino peasantry to intensify opposition to the Aquino administration’s plan to extend the ‘sham CARP for another five years.’
“The Calaca farmers are victims of the sham CARP. Another five year extension for this bogus agrarian reform program is an insult to the millions of farmers victimized by CARP,” Mariano said.