By Axel Pinpin, contributor
Mnaila, Philippines-In a dialogue yesterday with the farmers, Sec. Nasser C. Pangandaman of the Department of Agrarian Reform promised to look into the wide scale conversion of farm lands in Southern Tagalog.
The militant KASAMA-TK criticized what they called ‘one of the nailed promises of DAR.’ Imelda Lacandazo, spokesperson of KASAMA-TK said that they have been hearing promises from the agency decades ago. “Sec. Pangandaman is the ultimate liar; he cannot assure that DAR will study the agrarian disputes our group presented because recently he declared that he already approved the application of 43,000 hectares of farm lands for conversion.”
Lacandazo’s group is pressing DAR to cancel all conversion order especially after typhoon Ondoy hit most of the agricultural area in the region.
KASAMA-TK together with the leaders of their provincial chapters presented several agrarian cases in a day-long dialogue with the DAR secretary. Among them is the controversial Hacienda Looc estate in Nasugbu, Batangas being developed by Henry Sy. It involves 8,650 hectares of productive rice field, the farmer’s group said.
Outside the DAR office, more than 300 farmers staged a die-in to dramatize their call for a genuine agrarian reform in the country.
“The 70% of the country’s population needed a radical and pro-farmer land reform not a bogus reform for the landlords and foreign investors,” Lacandazo said, referring to RA 9700, the enacted law after the lower house and senate approved the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) bill.
Earlier, other groups held a dialogue with Director Nilo Tamoria of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
PAMALAKAYA from Southern Tagalog is demanding DENR to stop the construction of the R1 Coastal Road Extension in Bacoor, Cavite and the mothballed Laiban Dam in Tanay, Rizal, expressing their concern on the aftermath of the two typhoons that hit the country.
The group walked-out of the dialogue after Tamoria declared that the DENR cannot do anything about the project.
The farmers built a camp-out in front of the DAR building and will join the other farmers from Central Luzon today. They will be marching to Mendiola for the culmination of their week-long protest. October 16-21 is declared as Peasant Week in the country.#