Tag Archives: Rep. Luis Villafuerte

Farmers on “wheels” dare Noynoy, Gibo to act on land disputes

by Lollipop delos Reyes and Chocolate Moose Fernandez

Manila, Philippines-Organizers of the Central Luzon bound 3-day peasant caravan- the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Anakpawis party list on Monday urged presidential candidates Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro to use the power and influence under their proposal to distribute the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, and the 3,100 hectare agricultural area inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Laur, Nueva Ecija respectively.

Yesterday, KMP and Anakpawis kicked off their three-day 4 vehicle caravan from Quezon City to Central Luzon to press for the immediate and free distribution of the Cojuangco sugar estate and the agricultural lands inside Fort Magsaysay military reservation area.

The caravan’s first stop yesterday was in peasant community in San Miguel, Bulacan, where an issue of land dispute over a 375 hectare agricultural land between some 200 farmers and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte. Today, the second day of Peasant Caravan for Land and Justice will proceed to Cabanatuan City to press DAR to cover 3,100 hectares of land inside Fort Magsaysay and have these distributed for free to some 5,000 peasant families inside the military reservation area for free.

After the short rally in Cabanatuan, the caravan protesters that include Migrante, fisherfolk group Pamalakaya, the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Amihan peasant women federation, Nnara-Youth, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and All UP Workers Union will proceed to Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac City.

“Our position on genuine land reform and free distribution of land is non-negotiable. Noynoy and Gibo should bear in their respective political minds and mindset that agrarian reform is a serious matter that should not be taken for granted. It is a make or break for the two presidential wannabes,” said KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos.

The Supreme Court which issued a temporary restraining order (TRO), which stalled the distribution of sprawling 6,453 hectare, has yet to lift the order. However, the HLI management issued a memorandum to all farm workers inside the Cojuangco estate that farm workers who cultivated already 2,000 hectares of sugar lands for other crops have until Oct.30 to stop cultivation of sugar lands for other crops.

“Sen. Aquino said his share in Hacienda Luisita sugar estate is one part of the 32 controlling shareholders. But that is not the point. The senator is a policy lawmaker and the rallying political figure of Cojuangco and Aquino clans. He is in the position to declare the free distribution of Hacienda Luisita to farmworkers, nothing more, nothing less,” Ramos added.

As for Secretary Teodoro, the KMP official said as highest defense official in the land, Mr. Teodoro is legally and politically empowered to immediately distribute the 3,100 hectare of Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation to landless farmers in Laur, Nueva Ecija. “Actually it is just a signature away from making free land distribution in Fort Magsaysay a social justice reality, but Secretary Teodoro is not doing his assignment,” KMP added.

Meanwhile, farmers, indigenous groups and fisherfolk in Southern Tagalog, especially those affected by the massive flooding in Laguna Lake will conduct their own rural caravan from Rizal and Laguna to call for the immediate dismantling of Napindan Hydraulic Structure (NCHS), and the will also demand the national government, the MWSS and San Miguel Corporation to recall the ambitious Laiban Dam project in Tanay, Rizal. The activity will be sponsored by Kasama-TK, Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog and Save Laguna Lake Movement.

Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog secretary general Pedro Gonzales said the caravan will proceed to the office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), where they will hold a vigil protest.

The following day, Oct.20, a picket at the extension office of Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) at the Rizal provincial capitol in Pasig City will be conducted to press lake authority general manager Edgar Manda to dismantle the 26 year old Napindan flood structure. #

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Rural groups kicked off own relief caravan to Central Luzon

By Roy Morilla, Mama Mila Liguasan and TC Concepcion

Quezon City- Rural based groups headed by the farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Anakpawis party list today kicked off a three-day, four-vehicle relief caravan in Central Luzon provinces billed as Peasant Caravan for Land and Justice.

Organizers of the 3-day caravan led by KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos and Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente said the relief operations to be conducted in the provinces of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac is just part of the comprehensive political program to be carried by caravan protesters.

“The relief operation is just a segment of the entire political program. The main content of the 3-day peasant caravan is the peasant call and solidarity for genuine land reform and social justice and the presentation of the farmers’ 9-point omnibus demands for calamity victims in countryside,” KMP’s Ramos and Anakpawis’ Clemente said in a joint statement.

“Our demands clearly include about support in housing, rehabilitation of farms, grant of seeds and seedlings for rice, corn, vegetables and other farmers’ crops, financial assistance of about P10,000 to P15,000 per hectare, a credit line to the Land Bank of the Philippines amounting to P10,000 to P15,000 per hectare, tractors, hand-tractors and carabao, setting-up of potable water supply, one year or equivalent to the value of two successive croppings moratorium on irrigation fees to National Irrigation Authority and private irrigation systems and livelihood to seasonal farmworkers, ” the caravan leaders said.

As this developed, the relief caravan to be undertaken by Malacanang and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Monday, where a hundred of truckloads of relief goods will be make their way to Northern Luzon to aid victims of typhoon Pepeng was postponed due to typhoon Ramil. The government’s own relief drive is supposed to benefit 500,000 affected families.

Social welfare secretary Esperanza Cabral said the relief goods will be distributed to victims of Pepeng in 19 provinces in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), but because of typhoon Ramil which is expected to hit Northern Luzon this week, the department decided to cancel Monday’s relief caravan to Northern Luzon.

KMP and Anakpawis in cooperation with allied groups Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Amihan peasant women federation, Nnara-Youth, Migrante International, All UP Workers Union and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines will only distribute a little over 400 relief packs for the same number of families in San Miguel, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

“Our modest relief efforts for our members in Central Luzon, particularly in San Miguel town in Bulacan, for Fort Magsaysay and southern towns of Nueva Ecija, and for the agricultural workers of Hacienda Luisita is one way of expressing our irrevocable concern for the peasants and the rural people devastated by the state and profit driven escapades. The political message is the more important thing which is genuine land reform, the solution to current predicament confronted by landless farmers,” the peasant caravan organizers added.

Today, KMP and Anakpawis caravan participants will stay in a peasant community in San Miguel, Bulacan and will have a solidarity night with farmers facing land dispute with Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte, whom they accused of landgrabbing some 375 hectares of land in the area. They will also distribute 200 packs of relief goods to 200 farmer families.

Tomorrow the caravan will traverse the municipality of Gapan and the rest of the southern towns of Nueva Ecija on their way to Cabanatuan City to protest landgrabbing activities of big landlords inside the 7,100 Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Laur. Nueva Ecija. They will also hand out some 62 relief packs to the KMP chapter in Nueva Ecija. From Cabanatuan City, the caravan protesters will proceed to Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac and they are expected to be at the sugar hacienda owned by the family of the late President Corazon Aquino by late afternoon.

KMP and Anakpawis said they will distribute some 158 relief packs to affected sugar workers in Hacienda Luisita.

On October 20, the caravan protesters will travel back to Manila, and will pass through several towns of Tarlac, Pampanga and Bulacan provinces namely Bamban and Concepcion in Tarlac, Magalang, Mabalacat and San Fernando in Pampanga, and Calumpit, Malolos and Bocaue in Bulacan on their way back to Manila.

On the same day, the caravan protesters will meet peasant protesters at the Department of Agrarian Reform for a solidarity night, and on October 21, they will march from DAR to Mendiola in Manila. #

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Peasant groups off to Central Luzon for 3-day caravan protest

Peasant groups off to Central Luzon for 3-day caravan protest

by Roy Morilla and Gigi Babon, contributors

Manila, Philippines- Rural based activist groups will kick off a three-day caravan starting Oct.18 dubbed as Peasant Caravan for Land and Justice in Central Luzon, according to Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the main organizer of the event.

The militant peasant alliance will be joined by allied groups— the fisherfolk federation Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the Amihan peasant women association, the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Anakpawis party list and the Central Luzon farmer group Alyansa ng Mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL), as announced by KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos in a press conference held in Quezon City this morning.

The peasant solidarity mission would be on caravan towards Bgy. Sibul, San Miguel, Bulacan on the first day to give relief goods to farmers whose crops were destroyed by typhoon Pepeng. Their 375 hectares of rich agricultural lands in Sitio Malapad na Parang are being landgrabbed by Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte. On the second day, they would proceed towards Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac City, but at Gapan area, would be joined by farmers from Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) in Laur, Nueva Ecija, and farmer-victims of massive cancellations of Emancipation Patents (EP) and Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with ‘Reforms’ or CARPer.

Relief for typhoon victims

“We are gearing up for our relief efforts for our members in Central Luzon, particularly in San Miguel town in Bulacan, for Fort Magsaysay and southern towns of Nueva Ecija, and for the agricultural workers of Hacienda Luisita,” said Ramos.

“It is very obvious that the farmers are the worst-hit by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. Their houses were destroyed and worse, the very crops their livelihood depends on were in deep waters. This is one of the worst of the worst that could happen to Filipino farmers, already being snatched of their lands and being victims of natural calamities,” said Ramos.

“Though it looks like that we are helpless with weather conditions, we firmly believe that there are man-made causes that brought to further disasters such as mining, logging, land use conversion and the irresponsible operation of dams. We believe that government inefficiency and corruption of billions of pesos of calamity funds added to the toll of the typhoons,” added Ramos.

“Just 30 mins away from Quezon City, quarrying operations in Montalban, Rizal are now in full operation, and many subdivisions in Rizal towns such as San Mateo, Cainta and Antipolo were developed on agricultural, forest-like lands and near bodies of water, thus, residents became definite victims of flooding,” he added.

“With our small but significant efforts, we launched Oplan Sagip Kanayunan to aid relief to typhoon hit rural communities. This is our effort under broader relief effort Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan (Balsa) of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan). We have served areas such Bgy. San Rafael in Montalban, fisherfolk barangays in Binangonan, Rizal and Bgy. Tungkong Mangga in San Jose Del Monte. It is also noticeable that the government has no massive relief efforts which is supposed to be as they have the needed resources, ” Ramos shared.

“On our coming relief caravan this October 18 to 19, we are planning to serve about 1,400 farmers from Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Hacienda Luisita,” he added.

Struggle for Land

KMP and its regional chapters such as the AMGL in Central Luzon and KASAMA-TK in Southern Tagalog has been waging a determined campaign for genuine land reform. They are in constant dialogue with officials of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform to criticize massive petitions for exemption and maneuverings of landlords, cancellations of EPs and CLOAs brought about by the passage of RA 9700 or CARPer.

“This October, we are ceaselessly calling the attention of Sen. Noynoy Aquino to scrap the Oct. 30 deadline for the agricultural workers in Hacienda Luisita. The letter from Hacienda Luisita, Inc. dated December 18, 2008, warned the agri-workers that they have until Oct. 30 to cultivate the lands. This very letter is in contradiction with the principle of social justice that presidents or presidentiables should banner primarily,” said Ramos.

United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) spokesperson Lito Bais said that, “we went on strike on November of 2004 because of the inhumane conditions in the hacienda, the military and police have fired on us and killed our martyred comrades, thus, we are cultivating the lands to honor the sacrifice made by our comrades and we will fight for the Hacienda Luisita lands to the very end. We are cultivating about 2,000 hectares benefiting about a thousand families.”

The case of Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas is still at standoff, though DAR has approved conversion applications to the productive lands filed by Fil-Estate and Manila Southcoast Development Corp. (MSDC, owned by SM tycoon Henry Sy), farmers of KASAMA-TK are continuing their struggle for land and cultivation of their crops.

“Hacienda Looc, Roxas, Yulo, Lopez and Ayala lands are being spared from land distribution and countless EPs and CLOAs are being cancelled by DAR. This shows the anti-peasant character of the CARPer where it has never served the interests of farmers, concretely in Southern Tagalog. Massive land use conversions were approved in Laguna, Cavite and Batangas, where it significantly reduced the supply of rice in Metro Manila,” said Imelda Lacandazo, KASAMA-TK spokesperson and KMP National Vice-Chair.

After the passage of CARPer, peasant groups have noticed the speedy trend of landgrabbing especially by politicians in sensitive offices.

“The productive 375-hectare agricultural lands in Sitio Malapad na Parang, Bgy. Sibul in San Miguel town, Bulacan are suddenly being grabbed by Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte. He just came from nowhere and claimed he owns the lands. He is also using as front the Green Earth Heritage Foundation of his US-based daughter Dr. Marilyn Villafuerte-Matti. The peasants were EP and CLOA holders but Rep. Villafuerte is scheming with DAR Region 3 office for them to be cancelled,” said Ramos.

In Leyte, 429 hectares located at the tri-boundary of Tacloban City, Alangalang and San Miguel towns are being grabbed by Court of Appeals Associate Justice Vicente “Cheng” Veloso. KMP and SAGUPA-SB (KMP Eastern Visayas) together with Anakpawis Rep. and KMP Chair Rafael Mariano and Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino held a fact-finding mission at the area last October 8 to 9. They have witnessed the actual occupation of farmers installed by Justice Veloso, displacing legitimate farmers whose ancestors developed the lands for decades. The progressive lawmakers also held a dialogue with DAR Region 8 officials and found out that they themselves have no knowledge of any proof of legitimate ownership of Justice Veloso to the lands.

Call for justice

Since 2001, 559 peasants have been victims of extra-judicial killings, where 118 were KMP leaders. The latest was Fermin Lorico of Kaugmaon (KMP Negros Oriental). Among the victims of EJK were Eddie Gumanoy of KASAMA-TK, Renato Pacaide of KMP Far Southern Mindanao Region, Celso Pojas of FADC (KMP Davao City), Marcelino Beltran of AMT (KMP Tarlac), while still missing Nilo Arado of PAMANGGAS (KMP Panay) and Jonas Burgos of AMB (KMP Bulacan). About 129 were victims of enforced disappearances who are usually activist and leaders at the local areas. The peasant group totally condemns the fascist program of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Oplan Bantay Laya 2, composed of EJK, enforced disappearances and “arrest and detention.”

“We are also calling for the long overdue justice for the victims of Hacienda Luisita massacre and Mendiola massacre,” Ramos added.

Appeal for support

“We are sincerely appealing for support from various sectors such as the church, professionals, media and concerned groups for our upcoming endeavor. We are hoping that Filipino would be awakened by the recent incidents that our country has faced. The deaths caused by the back-to-back typhoons should not be in vain and those responsible should be investigated. Our country is a tropical country and a common venue for typhoons, thus, we should set-up an effective system in addressing natural calamities, also calamity funds should be protected and those who plunder should be punished,” called Ramos.

“The time is legitimate for the broad Filipino peasantry to unite to help one another and struggle for the lands they long have worked on,” Ramos added.

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Rep. Villafuerte pressed to break silence on landgrabbing

Rep. Villafuerte pressed to break silence on landgrabbingRep. Villafuerte pressed to break silence on landgrabbing

Farmer groups on Friday urged the Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte to break his silence on an allegation the he orchestrated the landgrabbing of 375 hectares of agricultural land in the towns of San Miguel and Doña Trinidad Remedios in Bulacan.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), and farmer groups Lingap Magsasaka and the Upland Farmers Association said “the deafening silence” of Rep. Villafuerte merely confirmed the issue of landgrabbing of some 200 farmer beneficiaries.

“Rep. Villafuerte does not want the issue to blow up into big proportions, that is why he is evading to issue even a short statement on charges of landgrabbing hurled against him. For the Bicolano lawmaker, it is less talk, less mistake,” KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said in a press statement.

Earlier, KMP and other farmer groups in Bulacan pressed House Speaker Prospero Nograles to designate the appropriate house committees to probe Rep. Villafuerte, whom they accused of conniving with the officials of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Region III in acquiring the lands previously awarded.

“Rep. Villafuerte, the despotic landlord from Bicol expanded the tentacle of his landgrabbing escapade in Bulacan. This is a political reward to him for his untainted loyalty and dedication to the ruling syndicate in Malacañang. If he has nothing to do with landgrabbing, he should come out in the open and prove his innocence beyond reasonable doubt,” said Ramos.

The KMP leader further asserted that House Speaker Nograles is legally, morally and politically obliged to lead the House of Representatives to investigate one of their peers who is implicated in the one of the biggest agrarian crimes of the millennium. “This is a make or break situation here for the entire House leadership,” Ramo said.

Villafuerte, former President of the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) is a close ally of President Arroyo. He led other pro-Arroyo congressmen in crushing the impeachment complaints filed against the President, and initially sponsored the Charter Change resolution seeking to convene both houses into a Constituent Assembly, which critics said was a ploy to extend the term of President Arroyo beyond 2010.

The KMP said the 200 farmer beneficiaries are holders of Emancipation Patents (EPs), Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) and Certificate of Land Transfers (CLTs) and have been tilling the 375 hectare land since 1963.

The group leaned that on March 2, 2009, DAR Region III issued an exemption order canceling all land titled distributed to farmer beneficiaries because of their “failure” to develop the awarded lands for agricultural production, which the beneficiaries denied.

“What failures the DAR Region III officials were talking about? There is no truth to DAR allegations that farmer beneficiaries re-missed their work to develop the lands awarded to them. That’s one big baloney, a hoax meant to inflict agrarian reform reversals on farmers. The allegations were orchestrated by DAR to justify the landgrabbing spree of Rep. Villafuerte,” asked KMP.

“The regional office of DAR made this sweeping cancellation of land titles to allow Rep. Villafuerte to declare the 375-hectare land as his private property. This is very, very unfair, this is injustice to the highest order to all farmer beneficiaries,” the KMP said.

KMP said Rep. Villafuerte has employed the services of members of the Scout Ranger of the 56th Infantry Batallion who joined the congressman’s private army in harassing farmer beneficiaries.

The peasant group said the intimidating presence of members of Army and Villafuerte’s armed goons prevented farmers from attending their farm lots inside the 375 hectare agricultural land that encompassed the barrios of Malapad na Parang, Sibul and Calumpang in San Miguel, and barrios Durumugan and Kalawakan ng Bayan in Doña Trinidad Remedios.

Reports reaching the KMP national office in Quezon City also revealed that Rep. Villafuerte plans to put up a mango farm and several fishponds inside the sprawling 375 hectares of agricultural lands. The lawmaker also intends to raise bamboo and malunggay, and build housing units, which the group theorized as parts of the eco-tourism and agribusiness projects envisioned by the Camarines Sur solon. #

Farmer groups on Friday urged the Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte to break his silence on an allegation the he orchestrated the landgrabbing of 375 hectares of agricultural land in the towns of San Miguel and Doña Trinidad Remedios in Bulacan.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), and farmer groups Lingap Magsasaka and the Upland Farmers Association said “the deafening silence” of Rep. Villafuerte merely confirmed the issue of landgrabbing of some 200 farmer beneficiaries.

“Rep. Villafuerte does not want the issue to blow up into big proportions, that is why he is evading to issue even a short statement on charges of landgrabbing hurled against him. For the Bicolano lawmaker, it is less talk, less mistake,” KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said in a press statement.

Earlier, KMP and other farmer groups in Bulacan pressed House Speaker Prospero Nograles to designate the appropriate house committees to probe Rep. Villafuerte, whom they accused of conniving with the officials of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Region III in acquiring the lands previously awarded.

“Rep. Villafuerte, the despotic landlord from Bicol expanded the tentacle of his landgrabbing escapade in Bulacan. This is a political reward to him for his untainted loyalty and dedication to the ruling syndicate in Malacañang. If he has nothing to do with landgrabbing, he should come out in the open and prove his innocence beyond reasonable doubt,” said Ramos.

The KMP leader further asserted that House Speaker Nograles is legally, morally and politically obliged to lead the House of Representatives to investigate one of their peers who is implicated in the one of the biggest agrarian crimes of the millennium. “This is a make or break situation here for the entire House leadership,” Ramo said.

Villafuerte, former President of the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) is a close ally of President Arroyo. He led other pro-Arroyo congressmen in crushing the impeachment complaints filed against the President, and initially sponsored the Charter Change resolution seeking to convene both houses into a Constituent Assembly, which critics said was a ploy to extend the term of President Arroyo beyond 2010.

The KMP said the 200 farmer beneficiaries are holders of Emancipation Patents (EPs), Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) and Certificate of Land Transfers (CLTs) and have been tilling the 375 hectare land since 1963.

The group leaned that on March 2, 2009, DAR Region III issued an exemption order canceling all land titled distributed to farmer beneficiaries because of their “failure” to develop the awarded lands for agricultural production, which the beneficiaries denied.

“What failures the DAR Region III officials were talking about? There is no truth to DAR allegations that farmer beneficiaries re-missed their work to develop the lands awarded to them. That’s one big baloney, a hoax meant to inflict agrarian reform reversals on farmers. The allegations were orchestrated by DAR to justify the landgrabbing spree of Rep. Villafuerte,” asked KMP.

“The regional office of DAR made this sweeping cancellation of land titles to allow Rep. Villafuerte to declare the 375-hectare land as his private property. This is very, very unfair, this is injustice to the highest order to all farmer beneficiaries,” the KMP said.

KMP said Rep. Villafuerte has employed the services of members of the Scout Ranger of the 56th Infantry Batallion who joined the congressman’s private army in harassing farmer beneficiaries.

The peasant group said the intimidating presence of members of Army and Villafuerte’s armed goons prevented farmers from attending their farm lots inside the 375 hectare agricultural land that encompassed the barrios of Malapad na Parang, Sibul and Calumpang in San Miguel, and barrios Durumugan and Kalawakan ng Bayan in Doña Trinidad Remedios.

Reports reaching the KMP national office in Quezon City also revealed that Rep. Villafuerte plans to put up a mango farm and several fishponds inside the sprawling 375 hectares of agricultural lands. The lawmaker also intends to raise bamboo and malunggay, and build housing units, which the group theorized as parts of the eco-tourism and agribusiness projects envisioned by the Camarines Sur solon. #

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House probe on Rep. Luis Villafuerte’s landgrabbing in Bulacan pressed

House probe on Rep. Luis Villafuerte’s landgrabbing in Bulacan pressed

Farmer groups on Friday urged the House of Representatives to investigate the alleged involvement of Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte on landgrabbing case involving 375 hectares of agricultural lands in municipalities of San Miguel and Doña Remedios Trinidad in Bulacan province.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), and farmer groups Lingap Magsasaka and the Upland Farmers Association asked House Speaker Prospero Nograles to designate the appropriate house committees to probe Rep. Villafuerte, whom they accused of conniving with the officials of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Region III in acquiring the lands previously awarded.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said the landgrabbing escapade of Rep. Villafuerte violated the land rights of some 200 farmer beneficiaries or around 1,000 farmers in two towns of Bulacan.

“Speaker Nograles should look into this crime of landgrabbing perpetrated by one of the staunch allies of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” Ramos said.

“Rep. Villafuerte, the despotic landlord from Bicol expanded the tentacle of his landgrabbing escapade in Bulacan. This is a political reward to him for his untainted loyalty and dedication to the ruling syndicate in Malacañang,” said Ramos.

The KMP leader further asserted that House Speaker Nograles is legally, morally and politically obliged to lead the House of Representatives to investigate one of their peers who is implicated in the one of the biggest agrarian crimes of the millennium. “This is a make or break situation here for the entire House leadership,” Ramo said.

Villafuerte, former President of the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) is a close ally of President Arroyo. He led other pro-Arroyo congressmen in crushing the impeachment complaints filed against the President, and initially sponsored the Charter Change resolution seeking to convene both houses into a Constituent Assembly, which critics said was a ploy to extend the term of President Arroyo beyond 2010.

The KMP said the 200 farmer beneficiaries are holders of Emancipation Patents (EPs), Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) and Certificate of Land Transfers (CLTs) and have been tilling the 375 hectare land since 1963.

The group leaned that on March 2, 2009, DAR Region III issued an exemption order canceling all land titled distributed to farmer beneficiaries because of their “failure” to develop the awarded lands for agricultural production, which the beneficiaries denied.

“What failures the DAR Region III officials were talking about? There is no truth to DAR allegations that farmer beneficiaries re-missed their work to develop the lands awarded to them. That’s one big baloney, a hoax meant to inflict agrarian reform reversals on farmers. The allegations were orchestrated by DAR to justify the landgrabbing spree of Rep. Villafuerte,” asked KMP.

“The regional office of DAR made this sweeping cancellation of land titles to allow Rep. Villafuerte to declare the 375-hectare land as his private property. This is very, very unfair, this is injustice to the highest order to all farmer beneficiaries,” the KMP said.

KMP said Rep. Villafuerte has employed the services of members of the Scout Ranger of the 56th Infantry Batallion who joined the congressman’s private army in harassing farmer beneficiaries.

The peasant group said the intimidating presence of members of Army and Villafuerte’s armed goons prevented farmers from attending their farm lots inside the 375 hectare agricultural land that encompassed the barrios of Malapad na Parang, Sibul and Calumpang in San Miguel, and barrios Durumugan and Kalawakan ng Bayan in Doña Trinidad Remedios.

Reports reaching the KMP national office in Quezon City also revealed that Rep. Villafuerte plans to put up a mango farm and several fishponds inside the sprawling 375 hectares of agricultural lands. The lawmaker also intends to raise bamboo and malunggay, and build housing units, which the group theorized as parts of the eco-tourism and agribusiness projects envisioned by the Camarines Sur solon. #

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