6 farmers arrested for harvesting own crops, hundreds others evicted due to land grabbing

Demolition in Norzagaray, Bulacan (Photo courtesy of KMP)

“The situation of Filipino peasants when they marched from Central Luzon to Mendiola in 1987 remains unchanged, and even worse this 2021, especially with the rising cases of peasant massacres and mass killings under the Duterte administration.” – KMP

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Peasant groups condemned the arrest of six farmers in Norzagaray, Bulacan after harvesting their own crops, and the series of eviction of farmers in Bataan, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan and Iloilo.

On Jan. 18, police arrested six farmers in Sitio Compra, San Mateo, Norzagaray, Bulacan following the filing of theft and grave threat by Royal Mollucan Realty Holdings Inc. (RMRHI) against 16 farmers who were evicted from their farm lots.

Arrested were Salvacion Abonilla, John Jason Abonilla, Jenny Capa, Marilyn Olpos, Catherine Magdato, and Eden Gualberto. All are active members of local peasant group SAMA-SAMA, an affiliate of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan-KMP.

Since 2005, the RMRHI has been claiming ownership to the 75.5-hectare land in Sitio Compra in San Mateo village, which farmers have been tilling for decades.

Amid COVID-19 lockdown and land conflict, a village wages struggle to live

Evicted and harassed

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and Amihan documented other cases of land grabbing and rights violations in the past few months.

Two houses were demolished by the private armed group of Ayala land in Hacienda Yulo, Calamba, Laguna on Jan. 6 and 9. Four farmers were reportedly injured.

On Jan. 13 in Hacienda Ambulong, Talisay, Negros Occidental, peasant couple Marilyn and Edwin Madin were held for questioning by the local police station after an early morning raid conducted by the 79th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army. A two-month old baby under their care was also taken by the soldiers.

On Jan. 14, in barangay General Lim, Orion, Bataan, the houses of about 70 peasant families were destroyed by at least 200 police upon orders from former GSIS President Federico Pascual. Policemen also reportedly threatened to destroy all the crops in the 33-hectare land.

In a press conference on Monday, Jan. 18, Shirley Valentin, a farmer and coordinator of Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Sitio Bangad, narrated how they are being harassed every day by the private goons and the police.

70 houses of farmers in General Lim, Orion, Bataan are destroyed. (Photo courtesy of Peasant Watch CL)

“We do not have anything because they destroyed our house. We just stay outside. Last night it was raining and our things are just out there getting wet,” she said in Filipino.

She added that even the blanket they used to shield themselves was confiscated by blue guards and the police.

“We have nowhere to go. We cannot harvest our crops,” Valentin said. She added that the relocation site offered to them has no power, water supply, and is located in the mountainous area.

Meanwhile, farmers in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan have long been fighting against land grabbing as there are several real estate development projects in the city. The KMP said the projects of Villar, Ayala Land Inc., SMDC and others in San Jose Del Monte City are intertwined.

Read: More planned projects to wipe-out farmers in San Jose Del Monte City

There are also about 400 peasant families of Lupang Ramos in Dasmarinas, Cavite who were threatened to be evicted from their farms and houses due to National Grid Corporations of the Philippines (NGCP) project in December last year.

In a statement, Amihan National Chairperson Zenaida Soriano strongly condemned the continuous abuses against “food security frontliners.”

Soriano said it is immoral that in the middle of a pandemic and poverty brought about by lockdown, farmers are being evicted and their houses are being demolished.

Then and now, peasants’ calls are still the same

In time for the commemoration of Mendiola massacre, peasants groups will hold a nationally- coordinated mobilization on Jan. 22 to “denounce and protest the intensifying land grabbing and land-use conversion of productive agricultural land, coupled with state-sponsored human rights violations against farmers.”

KMP Chairperson Danilo Ramos said that then and now, the farmers’ demands are still the same – land reform and free land distribution.

“The situation of Filipino peasants when they marched from Central Luzon to Mendiola in 1987 remains unchanged, and even worse this 2021, especially with the rising cases of peasant massacres and mass killings under the Duterte administration,” Ramos said.

He added that under President Duterte’s administration there are 21 incidents of peasant massacres and mass killings of farmers with 107 victims, based on the documentation of Tanggol Magsasaka.

Ramos blamed the absence of genuine agrarian reform and government projects such as the ‘Build, Build, Build’, which “authorizes the massive conversion of land for the building of arterial roads and linkages, mega-dams, airport, and railway expansions, among other big-ticket infrastructure projects that are the most common source of bureaucratic corruption.” ()

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