BATANGAS CITY—Farmer-beneficiaries in barangays Baha and Talibayog in Calatagan are asking the provincial board to revoke Municipal Ordinance No. 89, series of 2007, which revised the town’s comprehensive land use plan (CLUP) and reclassified lands from agricultural to heavy industrial.
Virginita Dimayuga, a farmer-beneficiary, said they were opposing the ordinance since this would only convert the farmlands in the two villages into a mineral area, including the 508-hectare land that was awarded to them by the government in the 1970s.
“The land is rightfully ours as we are holders of EPs (emancipation patents) and we have already paid (our amortization) in the Land Bank,” Dimayuga said.
She said they only became victims because when the land was sold by the former owner to the new one, their land titles were not separated.
The protest marked the fourth day of the “Alay Lakad Kalampag Para Sa Lupang Sakahan Hindi Minahan,” which showcases a 300-kilometer walk by 55 Calatagan farmers from Batangas to Manila to assert their claims over the 508-ha farmland and oppose plans to convert the said land into a mining area.
On June 29, 2007, a day before the term of local legislators ended, the municipal council approved the town’s revised CLUP.
Then Calatagan Mayor Oliver Palacio signed Municipal Ordinance No. 89, which amended certain provisions and included heavy industries in the town’s zoning ordinance.
In its website, the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board said Calatagan last updated its CLUP on Nov. 13, 2002.
The farmers, however, alleged that the council revised the plan to accommodate Asturias Chemical Industries, which plans to build a cement plant complex and industrial park, but the municipal government denied the allegation.
Batangas Vice Gov. Mark Leviste said the provincial board had not tackled the ordinance in its previous regular sessions since it had not yet received a copy of the document.
“Once we receive it, definitely we will have all concerned parties and give them the opportunity to have their sides heard,” he added.
In a fax message sent to the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net), Asturias legal counsel Micaela Rosales claimed that based on the geological investigation conducted by the Bureau of Mines in 1965, the 508-ha property “has always been classified, not as agricultural land, but as mineral land.”
Rosales also said the property was not grabbed, as alleged by the farmers, but acquired through the regional trial court, which granted authority to the estate administrators to sell the property to Asturias. Marlon Alexander Luistro, Inquirer Southern Luzon