After three (3) decades of fighting for their rights, the 56 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) became new landowners of the 174 hectares Don Domingo Reyes property located in Buenavista, Quezon as they received their individual certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
“We are very thankful to the Lord, the DAR, the local government unit, and the inter-agency task force for helping us own the lands we have been tilling for several years,” exclaimed Saturnino Alcantara, a former tenant and barangay captain, who received a portion of the Reyes property.
Alcantara said that upon owning the land, their lives became more secure where they were able to enjoy the fruits of their labor with increased income and provide education to their children.
Way back in 1994, Don Domingo Reyes Sr., former landowner of the 174-hectare agricultural land located at Brgy. Catulin, Buenavista, Quezon, ordered a halt on all farm activities including planting and harvesting crops, raising farm animals, and copra processing.
The tenant farmers headed by Alcantara organized the Samahan ng mga Magsasaka sa Catulin (SAMACA), and requested the DAR to cover the Reyes property under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Don Domingo initially rejected the coverage and erected fences covering his whole property. His personnel also uprooted the crops planted by the tenants forcing the farmers to flee from the landholding.
SAMACA, with the assistance of the PEACE Foundation, a Non-Government Organization (NGO), attended a para-legal training on agrarian reform laws under the Bondoc Development Program (BDP) to equip themselves with the necessary knowledge and formulate a plan to put an end to the incessant chaos.
To provide the support needed by the beneficiaries, an Inter-Agency Task Force was formed together with the Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of National Defense (DND), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and other NGOs.
Soon, the former landowner gave in until the tenant farmers were finally installed, provided with individual CLOAs, and are now peacefully cultivating the land.
The new landowners are now able to build houses, buy appliances, and some of their children already graduated from tertiary education.
This historical event also triggered a spark in DAR Quezon II for successfully covering other Reyes’ properties in Buenavista, San Narciso, and San Andres, Quezon which covers around 2,192.5077 hectares of land that will benefit a total of 1585 ARBs.