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Mariano to meet with Mindanao farmers

news reg 1 pix 1 jan. 25 2017DAVAO CITY, Jan. 25 – Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano is set to have a dialogue with around 2,000 farmers from Southern Mindanao to heed their calls for land tenure and ownership, and discuss the plans of DAR for genuine agrarian reform.

Despite several areas in Mindanao being under a state of calamity due to torrential rains in the past week, about 17,000 farmers and indigenous peoples have gathered in Davao City since January 24 for the “Kampuhan sa mga Mag-uuma.” The four-day camp-out protest of peasant organizations and agricultural workers aims to bring the issues on food security, land and justice at the forefront.

On January 26, the agrarian reform chief, together with Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Lucius Jun-jun Malsi, will relay the department’s actions regarding a number of landmark cases that violate the rights of farmers.

Since he assumed office last July, several complaints on agribusiness venture agreements, land installation, harassment and eviction, and exploitation by large corporations have been filed by Mindanao farmers before DAR.

One of such cases involve banana farmers of Tagum City who were recently evicted out of the awarded lands despite the Cease and Desist Order issued by Mariano against the agribusiness firm Lapanday Foods Corp. This, along with the series of attacks against the protesting farmers that followed, is one of the numerous cases of harassment by Lapanday for the past two months.

On the other hand, farmer occupants in Arakan town in North Cotabato have been engaged in a protracted struggle for land ownership for more than six decades. Local farmers and Lumad families have joined together in a protest to reclaim the unused portion of agricultural lands of the University of Southern Mindanao reservation.

Mariano, during the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre, announced the creation of “Agrarian Justice on Wheels” that aims to give immediate assistance to farmers who have been enduring agrarian problems.

“Sasalubungin natin ang mga kaso sa baba pa lang. Tutugunan ng DAR ang pangangailangan ng mga rehiyong may mataas na case load at may mababang resolution rate,” Mariano said.

The farmers are expected to raise their concerns to the DAR officials at the Rizal Park of Davao City tomorrow morning.

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