TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte, November 12 (PIA) – Department of Agriculture (DAR) Secretary, Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano was in town recently and turned-over a post harvest facility to Cabucgayan farmers in far Biliran province.
“This is in line with the DAR’s priority thrusts and policy direction, foremost of which is the protection and security of tenure of farmer-beneficiaries,” Mariano said.
Named the “National Task for ARBs Installation,” Mariano stressed the need to address seriously the saddening experiences of farmer-beneficiaries, their inability to till and enjoy the fruits of their farmlands due to the continued harassment and intimidation exerted against them by the former landowners.
Initial report as of September 30 this year shows that there are a total of 28,586 farmer-beneficiaries, who are already awarded with certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs), but are still not in possession of their shared farm lots.
Western Visayas (Region 6) has the highest number of uninstalled farmer-beneficiaries at 13,776, with Negros Occidental 1 being accounted for 9,588. Eastern Visayas comes next with 8,495, all from the province of Leyte.
This, he said, is contrary to the spirit and intent of the Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, as amended by RA No. 9700: “… provide farmers and farmworkers the opportunity to enhance their dignity and improve the quality of their lives through greater productivity of agricultural lands.”
The creation of the task force showed Mariano’s grim determination to see that no farmer-beneficiary would be evicted from the land he/she is tilling, while he is the secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
ORMOC CITY – Farmer Rosenda Apay could not hide her happiness as she and other farmer-beneficiaries started harvesting rice last week after having been deprived entry for 16 years to their awarded land under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Apay, 56, leader of the Bugho Farmers Association (BFA), was one of the 21 members who were successfully installed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in June 2016 to the 25-hectare lot within the Fran Farm in Barangay Matica-a in this city after several failed attempts.
“Masaya kami dahil nakabalik na kami pagtrabaho sa aming lupa at ngayon nga ay nag-aani na,”said Apay.
She said, they would be harvesting rice in the 25-hectare lot until the last week of October. Their initial harvest produced 60 cavans of rice.
According to Apay, to keep the land intact, she and the farmers have decided not to sub-divide the 25-hectare farmland covered under a collective certificate of land ownership award (CLOA) to prevent the sale of any portion of it by a member of their association. “What we are going to divide is the harvested rice,” Apay said.
DAR Regional Director Shiela Enciso, said the members of the BFA were identified by the DAR in the late 90s to be the beneficiaries of lots 8667-47 and 8667-48 covering 46 hectares.
“When the CLOAs were registered in 1999 in the names of the BFA members, the Fran Farm Workers Association (FFWA) questioned in court as to who should be the rightful beneficiaries of those lots. The case dragged on for 16 years which resulted in animosity among them,” said Enciso.
During this period, BFA was deprived entry into the contested landholding.
The case was resolved only when the BFA offered the 21-hectare lot to the rival group while retaining 25 hectares for themselves. This led to a compromise agreement in March this year.
Both farmer groups were finally installed to their respective farm lots on June 13 and started cultivating the farmland.
The farmers thanked the DAR and the non-government organization RIGHTS for fighting for their rights in the land. They also thanked the Philippine National Police for continuing to provide security in the area and maintaining the peace and order.
Apay and FFWA member Medardo Cabahug, 59, admitted that their groups have already settled their differences.
Meanwhile, Regional Director Sheila Enciso directed Assistant Regional Director Ismael Aya-ay to hasten the delivery of the necessary support services needed by these farmers. (Jose Alsmith L. Soria)
Photo 1: A member of the Bugho Farmers Association (BFA) savor her firs harvest after 16 years.
Photo 2: Farmers of the BFA harvesting rice.
Photo 3: Farmer-leader Rosenda Apay (8th from left) of the BFA and Medardo Cabahug (10th from left), a member of the Fran Farm Workers Association, pose for a souvenir photo with officials and staff of the DAR, Philippine National Police and Bureau of Fire Protection after the harvest to prove that everything is well now between the two former rival groups.