Secretary Atienza reneged promise to distribute 2,000 hectares of land in Calatagan, fishers group says
Leaders of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and its affiliates- the Haligi ng Batangueñong Anakdagat (Habagat) and Claimants 2000 said Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Joselito Atienza reneged his promise to distribute 2,000 hectares of foreshore lands in Calatagan, Batangas to fishermen and farmers
“If my memory serves me right, Secretary Atienza last May 22, 2008 made a highly publicized promise that the DENR will start distributing 2,000 hectares of foreshore lands to fisherfolk and farmer residents in 19 out of the 24 barangays in Calatagan. Today is April 29, 2009. How long it will take him from accomplishing a very easy assignment?” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.
The 2,000 hectare plot is part of the 12,000 hectares of land owned by Ayala companies had previously been exempted from the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) but the Supreme Court in July 1999, decided with finality that the hotly disputed lands should be distributed to farmers and fishermen in 19 barangays of Calatagan.
Prior to the enactment of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) and the subsequent approval of CARP in 1988, the Supreme Court had already issued a writ of execution in June 1988 enforcing the 1965 SC ruling recognizing the land rights’ claim of the farmers and fisherfolk in Calatagan.
“The 2,000 hectares of lot in Calatagan is not under CARP, but Atienza and the Office of President keep on insisting that the distribution of these lands should be within the framework of the bogus land reform program,” added Hicap.
Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog chairperson and Habagat President Isabelo Alicaya said what the DENR had accomplished so far was the survey of 1,769 hectares out of the 2,000 hectares identified for distribution to fishermen and farmers in Calatagan. He said the remaining 231 hectares are still to be surveyed.
However, Alicaya said, the survey is not an assurance that the DENR will push through with the distribution of lands to farmer and fisherfolk in 19 barangays. The Pamalakaya leader said in Barangay Silang, the DENR surveyor did not recognize 500 families as residents and potential beneficiaries of the Supreme Court ruling on Calatagan lands.
“Worse, the leaders of Habagat and Claimants 2000 are being deluged with various criminal and civil cases by several land developers and big landlords for insisting their rights over these lands based on the decision of the high tribunal,” Alicaya added.
Pamalakaya-ST said 6 leaders of Habagat and Claimants 2000 were charged with cases like unlawful retainer, malicious mischief and forcible entry to stop them from pursuing the fisherfolk claims over the 2,000 hectares of land owned by Ayala companies. Among those charged were Daisy Ayo and Rossana Mole, leaders of Claimants 2000 identified with Habagat and Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog. #