28 April 2008
Seven days after the began their 300-kilometer trek from their homes in Baha and Talibayog in Calatagan, Batangas, the 55 Calatagan farmers reach Manila early afternoon on Sunday, April 27. They took shelter at the Barangay Hall of San Dionisio in Parañaque. The farmers who are in danger of losing the land distributed to them under CARP 10 years ago began their march to Manila last Monday, April 21 to call on the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to cancel the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement it issued to Asturias Industries and to urge PGMA to re-affirm the agricultural classification of their land thru a presidential proclamation.
They will march to the Senate early morning today to rally the senators to reform and extend CARP. Foremost among the reforms they are asking is a provision declaring the indefeasibility of the land titles (CLOAs and EPs) issued under the agrarian reform program. Ka Uper Aleroza, national chairperson of the Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan (PKSK) and a resident of Calatagan himself said that Congress has to incorporate significant reforms in the CARP to protect the rights of agrarian reform beneficiaries and to prevent the reversal of the gains of the program. “The farmers from Calatagan have been in possession of the land since these were distributed to them between 1989 and 1990. Despite the 10 years of continued possession and despite fully paying the land amortizations, they are now in danger of losing their lands to a mining company. The law should be able to protect the rights of agrarian reform farmers like them. We support the SB 2047 authored by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada” Alerosa said.
Ka Virgie Malaluan, spokesperson of the Calatagan farmers said that they want to convey to the senators, especially Sen, Gringo Honasan who is the chairperson of the Senate Agrarian Reform Committee the urgency of reforming and extending CARP. “We also call the attention of Sen. Mirriam Defensor-Santiago who was the Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform who distributed the land to us in 1989 and 1990” Malaluan added.
From the Senate the Calatagan farmers will march to the Region IV office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the DENR to protest the granting of the renewal of the Exploration Permit of Asturias Industries despite the company’s consistent violations of the terms of the MPSA. “The Calatagan farmers have filed a petition for the cancellation of Asturias’ MPSA last January for various violations of the MPSA’s terms and conditions. Asturias’ violation of its obligations became so grave that DENR-MGB declared Asturias Industries a ‘delinquent contractor’ as early as 1999. Despite all these MGB still granted the renewal of Asturias’ Exploration Permit which expired last July 29, 1999” said Atty. Magistrado Mendoza, legal counsel of the Calatagan farmers.
The Calatagan farmers will spend the night at the De La Salle University in Taft Ave. where they will be received by the La Salle brothers led by Bro. Armin Luistro. They will proceed to the national offices of the DENR and DAR on Tuesday.