Farmers, fishers oppose 18th floor condominium project in Hacienda Looc

Farmers, fishers oppose 18th floor condominium project in Hacienda Looc

Farmers and fisherfolk groups in the sprawling 8,650 hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas vowed to oppose the construction of an 18th floor first class condominium in Barangay Papaya.

The Samahan ng Mga Magbubukid ng Batangas (Sambat) and the Haligi ng Batangueñong Anakdagat (Habagat), affiliates of the activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the ambitious project is being undertaken by the Manila Southcoast Development Corporation (MSDC), a subsidiary of SM Property Holdings owned by mall magnate Henry Sy.

According to Guillermo Bautista, chair of Sambat, aside from the 18th floor condominium project due to be finished or on before 2012, Sy is also planning to establish eco-tourism projects along foreshore land areas of Hacienda Looc, including another international mall similar or even bigger than the SM Mall of Asia in the former Pasay reclamation area.

Bautista said Sy plans to sell each unit in the 18th floor condominium for P 3.5 million, P 7 million and P 10 million.

Bautista blamed the fatally flawed and loop holes ridden Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) behind the land grabbing sprees of SM and other real estate developer groups in Hacienda Looc.

“The 8,650 hectare Hacienda Looc was previously declared as CARP lands and therefore subject of land distribution to farmer beneficiaries and in fact, DAR distributed Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) to 1,393 farmer beneficiaries,” he said.

“But the national government overturned the decision and let the effective sale of Hacienda Looc to MSDC for 215 million in 1994 and this led to land reform reversal affecting over one thousand farmer beneficiaries and 10,000 rural populace some 15 years ago,” the Sambat leader added.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap also blamed CARP for the agrarian dispute in Hacienda Looc with the national government’s sell-out of Carpable lands to Sy. He said as of now over 20,000 farmers and fisherfolk and their families are affected by the land market transaction initiated by the government courtesy of the 21-year old CARP.

“As of now, fisherfolk are being banned to fish 5 kilometers away from the shore land as if Hacienda Looc and its coastal waters are declared the Henry Sy republic. Something must be done to stop this injustice made in the name of Palace clients and political supporters in the persona of Mr. Sy and company,” added Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said the corporate takeover of Hacienda Looc by SM will immediately affect the livelihood of 1,500 farmers and fisherfolk. Hicap said the security guards detailed by MSDC are preventing small fisherfolk to get near the 5-kilometer fish ban from the shoreline and in case they get near, the guards will fire shots or harass them for crossing in the private property of SM.

“The bogus CARP, the government’s uncontrollable greed for fat commission and SM’s real estate and mall expansionism escapade are behind this current predicament and sufferings of farmers and fisherfolk,” he said.

Meanwhile, KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos aired his support to the a house resolution filed by Bayan Muna party list Rep. Teodoro Casiño urging the House Committee on Agrarian Reform to investigate how Sy and MSDC managed to wrest control of the 8,650 hectare of prime agricultural lands from farmers who have been tilling the area for generations.

On May 27, Casiño filed House Resolution directing the House Committee on Agrarian Reform to investigate the failure of CARP in the case of Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas, with the end in view of protecting the farmer-beneficiaries and other residents whose rights are continuously violated by the MSDC owned by Henry Sy.

“We want a full-blown investigation on one of the biggest land reform reversals and land reform landgrabbing in recent history of agrarian reform in the country. The lawmakers should cross party lines and should come to their senses,” said Ramos. #

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