Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Laguna farmers cry harassments, appealed to Church for help

Laguna farmers cry harassments, appealed to Church for help

SAN PABLO CITY – Laguna farmers who claimed their ancestors had been cultivating since 1901 the 943 has. Farm belonging to Hacienda Yulo landholding have appealed to Church leaders for help for being subjected to harassments by security forces as they persisted to stay in their homes and cultivate their farms in defiance to developers claiming ownership of the area.

Saturnina Mangubat, 61, whose husband was paralyzed for 20 years due to an accident, complained to Laguna Bishop Leo M. Drona and the Social Action Center (SAC) Director that security forces allegedly employed by the Ayala Developers would not allow entry of Nepa (Pawid) materials and other construction/repair needs through the gates of their outposts as the family is not allowed to repair their damaged roofs anymore.

She said, what will happen to us when typhoons destroy our little houses if security guards would prevent us from repairing the damages? “Kahit baga naman pag-kukumpuni ng mga sirang gamit ng aming tahanan ay ipinagkakait nila sa amin? Masyado po namang sobra ang ginagawa nila sa amin.(It’s too much that even our simple needs of repairing damages of our homes is being deprived of us. What they (guards) did to us is too much).

Mangubat was among 12 farmer leaders who made representations before the Laguna prelate and SAC Director Fr. Rene B. Eriga at the Bishop’s Residence here on Monday (September 22) morning to appeal for assistance pertaining to the present ordeal being suffered by the farmers in the hands of the developer’s security forces.

Romeo Olaez, 67, one of the farmer leaders, told the Inquirer in an interview following the forum with the Bishop, that their group represents some 256 family members of the Hacienda Yulo Farmers Association (HYFA) which occupy the 943 has. Farm located at Brgy. Putol Majada, Canlubang, Calamba City.

The contested area (Putol Majada)  is located in a remote portion of Canlubang which is just adjacent to Brgy. Hornalan, the site of the massacre of eight (8) victims and wounding of six (6) farmers last May 19.

He said, “our main petition to the authorities is to grant us rights and ownership of the land we were tilling since time immemorial. My parents and fore-parents had been here since year 1900 hence it would be too much for us to bear if we would be kicked out from the land we used to live and cultivate for years.”

Vangie Mendoza, 40, another farmer leader reminded the group during the forum that they are still hoping that the ongoing review of the issue on conversion by the Department of Agrarian Reform would result to the stoppage of the conversion of the agricultural land they are tilling into commercial areas.

Bishop Drona, after hearing the ordeal of the farmers suggested that they report to the proper authorities any harassment subjected at them and they be open to dialogue with the government, the land-owner and the developer to be able to thresh out problems and finally reach solutions acceptable to all parties involved.

Commissioned by the prelate, SAC Director Fr. Eriga assured the farmers that the San Pablo Diocese is ready to help them facilitate a dialogue once more with the Department of Agrarian Reform, the City Government of Calamba, the Philippine National Police of Calamba City, the security guards and the developer of the contested land to finally end the farmers’ problems.

Eriga reminded the farmers to be ready with their written complaints and petitions, prepare available documents necessary to support their claims if any and to avail of the services of a lawyer who will deal with the technicalities, legalities involving the case or claims they are pursuing.

In an Inquirer report last February, the same group of Hacienda Yulo farmers had embarked into two-week march to Manila to appeal to the government to stop the conversion of the land they are tilling into commercial zones.
On that protest march from Calamba, members of the Hacienda Yulo Farmers Association (HYFA) denounced the establishment of Eton City on 1,000 hectares in Sta. Rosa, which its developers have dubbed the future “Makati of the South.”
Eton City was part of the extensive Hacienda Yulo owned by the late Speaker and Supreme Court Justice Jose Yulo Sr. His descendants have broken up the hacienda and have sold, leased, or are developing the land which straddles Calamba, Sta. Rosa, Cabuyao, and Biñan.

24 September 2008