“Royal Mollucan and their Villar bosses should drop the trumped-up charges against the farmers. They should stop tormenting the farmers and let them plant and harvest their crops in peace,”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – A farmers organization is demanding the dropping of theft charges against 14 farmers from Norzagaray, Bulacan, who only harvested fruits from their own trees.
Danilo Ramos, national chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, said in a statement, “The charges are completely unfounded and are obviously just meant to harass and terrorize farmers who adamantly assert their right to the lands they till.”
The 14 farmers were arrested on Jan. 19 after harvesting fruits in the disputed land in sitio Compra, San Mateo village, in Norzagaray, Bulacan. Farmers said they were the ones who planted the trees in the 75.5-hectare agricultural land that sits next to a huge estate owned by the Villar family.
“Royal Mollucan and their Villar bosses should drop the trumped-up charges against the farmers. They should stop tormenting the farmers and let them plant and harvest their crops in peace,” Ramos said.
As of this writing, all of the farmers have posted bail.
The produce that they have been harvesting are sold in the Bagsakan Farmers’ Market, which KMP initiated to help food producers earn a living in the time of pandemic.
Attempts to demolish their homes began in 2018.
In October 2019, farmers were fenced off from the land they have been tilling. KMP reported that a private army purportedly hired by the Royal Mollucan Realty Holdings set up fences and barred them from entering their community.
That same month, these armed goons burned down and demolished houses of farmers, many of whom have been tilling the land since the 1950s.