Palparan has 70 hectares inside Fort Magsaysay, says fact finding report

Palparan has 70 hectares inside Fort Magsaysay, says fact finding report

An initial report of the 66-men fact-finding mission conducted inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation last year revealed that retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan was given a 70-hectare agricultural land property inside the military reservation in Laur, Nueva Ecija.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Amihan-National Federation of Peasant Women, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura and Anakpawis party list which spearheaded the investigation last October 5-6, 2008 said Palparan’s acquisition of the 70-hectare property inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) shows the bankruptcy of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“The 70-hectare property inside FMMR was awarded to Palparan for his exemplary performance in terrorizing the people and for leading state security forces in killing over 900 political activists since 2001,” KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said in a press statement.

“CARP is like Palparan, the butcher of peasant land rights. Extending this bogus and pro-landlord program is a national crime to the interest of landless farmers and land-lacking tillers all over the country,” added Ramos.

The KMP leader also the fact-finding mission who interviewed 100 farmers inside FMMR revealed that top military officials have been acting like landlords inside the military reservation and had contested the collective claims of the farmers to have the agricultural lands distributed to land tillers inside Fort Magsaysay.

According to the six-page report prepared by the mission, farmers inside the 73,000 hectare military reservation said aside from Palparan, retired military officials– Ret. Gen. Eduardo Martillano, Ret. Col. Feliciano Sabite and other retired military officials only known by their surnames as Bueno and Odollio were also claiming land properties inside Fort Magsaysay.

The mission’s report also showed that from 1978 to 1983, farmers paid 2 to 3 cavans of palay for every hectare per harvest season. They said the military officials acted like landlords and warlords during the period.

“Absentee landlordism is not an issue in FMMR The military officials are the self-proclaimed landlords demanding cavans of palay from farmers,” the mission said.

The mission also found out that on June 24, 2008, Maj. Gen. Ralph Villanueva wrote the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO) of Nueva Ecija demanding the cancellation of certificate of land ownership awards (CLOAs) to farmers, asserting that all agricultural lands inside the military reservation are not owned by the farmers, and these belong to the military under the Department of National Defense.

Around 5, 000 farmers and their families in Laur, Nueva Ecija are claiming 3,100 hectares of rice lands inside FMMR In 1991, the Department of National Defense and the Department of Agrarian Reform through secretary Renato de Villa and Sec. Benjamin Leong, respectively signed the Deed of Transfer based on Executive Order 407 and 448 of former President Corazon Aquino, allowing the agrarian department to cover the area for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

The 3,100 hectares were covered by CARP under the voluntary offer to sell (VOS) scheme of the expired agrarian reform program. The farmers said, the VOS scheme failed, because many landlords were claiming hectares of agricultural lands and they connived with the military inside the military reservation in harassing the farmers so they would quit from insisting their rights to land.

The PARO also failed in determining the farmer beneficiaries to the disadvantage of Fort Magsaysay farmers. The KMP and other rural based groups said the decision of the government to place the 3,100 hectares of agricultural lands under CARP’s VOS further complicated the situation.

“That’s why the 5,000 farming families Laur is now collectively known as CARP victims because the agrarian reform program was used to further deny their rightful claim to land instead of legitimizing the claim of the farmers to the 3,100 hectares of prime agricultural lands,” the mission added.

Instead of CARP, the 66-fact finding team which was also composed of church people, members of the academe, professionals and health personnel endorsed the passage of House Bill No. 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) authored by the late Anakpawis party list Rep. Crispin Beltran and co-authored by Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna reps. Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño and Gabriela party list lawmakers Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan.

GARB’s heart and soul is the free distribution of all agricultural lands to qualified farmer beneficiaries, and it would cover all lands including military reservations like Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija. #

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