NEWS IN PICTURES
MANILA – The installation of 159 agrarian members of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. (Marbai) was a success on the third attempt on May 18, Thursday. Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano facilitated the reinstallation of the ARBs in the 145-hectares of land taken from the control of the Lapanday Foods Corporation in San Isidro, Tagum City.
The ARBs, alongside thousands of supporters from different sectors, arrived at the banana plantation surrounded by barriers, booby traps and makeshift walls to prevent the farmers to reclaim the land. A statement by peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said security guards of Lapanday remained inside the plantation and refused to comply with the break-open order issued by Department of Agrarian Reform’s sheriff.
But no barriers deterred the determined Marbai farmers who eventually opened the locks and entered the plantation. The DAR’s sheriff, assisted by some members of the Philippine National Police also conducted clearing operation for the safe return of the farmers.
The KMP called the installation as an “assertion of social justice” after Lapanday’s landgrabbing and exploitation of the ARBs.
“This is living proof that we could only achieve our just demands through militant and collective action. We will remain determined in defending the land,” said Antonio Tuyak, spokesperson of Marbai.
On May 9, President Rodrigo Duterte visited the farmers who were camping in Chino Roces bridge since May 1 and have committed to help them to return in their land.
Meanwhile, Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao urged farmers to remain vigilant as threat from the Lapanday remains. He added that Lapanday “is known to organize private armed groups to protect their landlord interests in Mindanao.”
Mariano has requested the PNP to provide 24-hour security for two todays also for the safety of the farmers. “Although they are now installed in their farm lots, they are still in danger,” said Mariano.
Casilao lauded those who have extended support and help for the reinstallation of the farmers.