ORMOC CITY – Tired but happy was how the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in Barangay Sumanga, Ormoc City looked as they savor their first harvest of sugarcane after 21 years of waiting to work on the farm they legally own.
“Masaya kami dahil may income na kami. May pambayad na sa lupa, at matutupad na ang pangarap ng anak ko na makapagtapos ng pag-aaral (We are happy because we now have income. We can now pay land amortization, and my child’s dream to get a college degree will already be realized),” said 55-year-old farmer Pablo Silva, president of the Sumanga United Farmers Association (SUFA).
Agrarian Reform Regional Director Sheila Enciso said Silva is among the 24 ARBs awarded with certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) 21 years ago.
“After receiving their CLOAs, their journey as ARBs was not smooth. They were blocked from entering the property by the previous landowner who resisted coverage of the lot under CARP,” Enciso explained.
Enciso said that through the years, the DAR determinedly worked for the installation of the farmers in their respective farm lots.
Farmers finally installed
Municipal Agrarian Reform Program Officer Perpetua Sabaldan who took charge of the installation activities in Leyte, explained that the 17.5 hectares that ARBs are now farming, is part of the 35-hectare property previously owned by the Potenciano and Anecita Larrazabal Enterprises Corporation (PALEC) that was awarded to SUFA.
Sabaldan said that out of the 35 hectares, only 12 hectares are currently being planted with root crops by the ARBs.
“Pablo Silva and the 23 other ARBs waited for 19 years to be installed in their awarded land, and two more years before they were able to harvest in the land that was already theirs 21 years ago,” Sabaldan Said.
Sabaldan narrated that after several attempts, with the combined efforts of DAR, KAISAHAN, a non-government organization assisting them; and the Philippine National Police finally paid off when the farmers were finally installed on June 20, 2016.
A bountiful harvest
Before the farmers were installed in their farm lots, the PALEC (previous landowner), requested for a dialogue with the ARBs. In the dialogue, PALEC bargained with the farmers to allow them to harvest first the existing crop for they were the ones who planted them. After the harvest, PALEC surrendered the land to the ARBs as promised during the dialogue.
ARB Pablo Silva shared that during Tuesday’s harvest (March 27) they are expecting about 15 truckloads of freshly harvested sugarcane with an estimated net income of ₱14,000 for every truckload.
As it takes about 12 months for this crop before it could be harvested, the ARBs had to wait until the current year to experience the complete success of their struggle.
However, Wowie Silva, 21, who helps his father, Pablo in farming said it could have been better if the trucks that would transport the harvested sugarcane to the sugar central can enter the area for fast and easy hauling.
Wowie disclosed that trucks can no longer enter their area because the road leading here is privately owned by PALEC and the latter dug a big hole along the way preventing trucks from passing by.
Because of this according to him, the men must carry on their shoulders the harvested sugarcane for a distance of about a kilometer where trucks can wait.
Though this is no longer a big deal to Pablo, still he appeals to concerned sectors to help them have an access road. (Jose Alsmith L. Soria-DAR Ormoc)
Photo 1 & 2: Tired but happy as these agrarian reform beneficiaries savor their first harvest in the Sugarland awarded to them 21 years ago.
Photo 3: Pablo Silva (2nd from left), president of the Sumanga United Farmers Association (SUFA) discuss his plans with Municipal Agrarian Reform Program Officer (MARPO) Perpetua Sabaldan (left) and Gilbert Negad (right) of KAISAHAN.
Photo 4: Distance did not matter as this farmer carries the harvested sugarcanes for about a kilometer where trucks that would haul them to the sugar central awaits.
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