QTV: Mass held for Calatagan farmers: CLICK THIS LINK
04/30/2008 | 12:06 PM
In an interview, Manuel Gerochi, DENR undersecretary, said the agency has ordered the suspension of any operation of Asturias Industries Inc. in Barangayas Baha and Talibayog in Calatagan, Batangas.
“We are helping these farmers to protect their interest. So because there is a pending case before the Region 4 Arbitration Group and we want to ensure that the case will not be prejudiced,” he said, adding that Environment Secretary Lito Atienza has signed Asturias’ suspension order last week.
Some 60 farmers from Calatagan, Batangas have urged government to exert all efforts to stop Asturias from undertaking operations in their irrigated land.
Ruperto Aleroza, Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan chairman, said incomes of an estimated 312 households will be affected should the government revoke or cancel their land titles.
These farmers include those awarded emancipation patents (EP) through the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in 1990. They were given the 507-hectare land owned by Ceferino Ascue in barangays Baha and Talibayog in Calatagan, Batangas.
The group claims that five years after the award of EPs, Ascue’s heirs were able to sell the land to the mining company.
In 1997, the environment department approved Asturias’ application for a mineral production sharing agreement for limestone. The department also issued an environmental compliance certificate for the company’s operations.
For its part, Asturias claimed that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) erred in declaring the land areas as part of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). DAR has reversed itself and has favored Asturias.
However, Aleroza said the decision of DAR will render farmers and households without any source of livelihood.
Aleroza added that the group has been in Manila since April 21 and they are prepared to stay here until after the government hears their plea.
“The agrarian reform department should stand by its decision that the lands given to us are covered by CARP,” Aleroza said.
He added the group is also asking the Provincial Council of Batangas to nullify Ordinance No. 35 series 2007 of Calatagan amending the use of land in Baha and Talibayog.
Aleroza also said DENR should cancel the MPSA and the exploration permit granted to Asturias.
A check with the Securities and Exchange Commission, however, showed that no Asturias Industries was registered.
Only Asturias Handlers Phils. Inc., Asturias Industrial Estates Inc. and Asturias Integrated Resources Association Inc. were registered.
The SEC has already revoked both the registration of Asturias Handlers and Asturias Integrated Resources.
Asturias Industrial Estates, on the other hand, is mainly engaged in real estate. – GMANews.TV