MANILA – Six men and a minor were wounded when suspected private guards of an agri-business company shot at protesting farmers encamped in a banana plantation in Tagum City, Davao del Norte today, Dec. 12.
The farmers are beneficiaries of the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) who have been inside the banana plantation in Madaum village since Dec. 9, as they assert ownership to 145 hectares which they said remains controlled by the Lapanday Foods Corporation (LFC).
Wounded were: Jose Balucos, 42; Rico Saladaga; Emanuel Buladaco, 46; Joseph Bertulfo, 58; Taldan Miparanun, 16; Jojo Gomez and Belardo Francisco. The victims belong to the 159-member Madaum Agrarian Beneficiaries Association Inc. (Marbai). They were treated at the Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City.
Protesting farmers identified armed men belonging to the LFC-hired security agency, ACDISA, who entered the plantation at around 7 a.m. The shooting occurred at around 7:20 a.m.
In a statement, LFC denied having anything to do with the shooting.
Various groups condemned the brazen attack, which they attributed to the land monopoly of powerful clans which continued under CARP. In 2010, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Region 10 ordered the distribution of 236 hectares of the banana plantation to 296 farmer-beneficiaries.
“We blame this injustice in the preservation of the feudal set-up in the countryside, the bankruptcy of the CARP,” said Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao in a privilege speech at the Hosue of Representatives today.
“There are overwhelming moral and legal basis for the farmers and agricultural workers to take back their lands, as on the other hand, the Lorenzo-owned Lapanday, only have their armed goons to secure their control of the land. The Lorenzo’s are modern-day warlords who protect their economic interests through despotic violence,” Casilao said in a statement.
The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said the violence against the Madaum farmers is similar to the harassment by private guards of the Cojuangco-Aquinos who fired shots and took over the huts of farm workers of Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac City last month.
“The Lorenzo landlord family is also connected to Hacienda Luisita, where violence also erupted due to land disputes last week. Martin Lorenzo, brother of Lapanday’s CEO Regina Lorenzo, is a top executive and active partner of the Cojuangco-Aquinos in running the Central Azucarera de Tarlac,” said UMA secretary general Danilo Ramos.
The groups called on President Duterte to “walk the talk” and intervene on the case.
“This incident is glaring proof of a company’s greed and fascism being tolerated by the government for so long,” said Pedro Arnado, KMP Southern Mindanao spokesperson.
“KMP is urging President Duterte, who claims that he is for genuine land reform, to walk the talk and intervene on this in favor of the landless farmers and uphold the decision of DAR in installing the farmers in their claimed lands,” Arnado said.