Ipinaskil ni: S3lv0 | Hulyo 2, 2008

Calatagan farmers up in arms vs cement firm over property

MANILA, Philippines – Farmers in Calatagan town in Batangas province are up in arms against a cement company that they claim is poised to hold operations on a property they claim their own.

Members of Task Force Baha-Talibayog had accused Asturias Chemical Industries Inc. of attempting to bring their construction equipment into the contested area Monday night.

Asturias reportedly has a mineral production sharing agreement with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The property in question is the more than 2,336-hectare area traversing the municipalities of Calatagan and Balayan.

According to the group, the attempt of Asturias to bring in their construction equipment inside the villages prompted hundreds of farmers, qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries, some barangay councilors, and their support groups to barricade two points of entry in their respective areas.

“Fortunately, nothing happened (Monday) night. But the looming threat of entry of the Asturias camp into our community made our nights sleepless,” Task Force Baha-Talibayog said.

“So, we decided to actively monitor the movement of the Asturias camp into our community since Friday,” it added.

The group claimed that the first attempt of Asturais to bring in their equipment was last June 28, allegedly under the guise of mangrove tree planting activity, medical mission, and a Mass in the communities of Baha and Talibayog.

They said that Mayor Sofia Palacio arrived in the area around 10 a.m. with a certain Gari Sevilla, allegedly one of Asturias’ representatives, and Harlan Torres, a former municipal councilor of Calatagan.

The group said Palacio, Sevilla, and Torres went in and out of the area “without acknowledging the presence of Calatagan farmers who were on the streets at the time.”

The group further said that around lunchtime, policemen started negotiating for the entry of construction materials in the village.

The policemen purportedly showed some documents and asked the farmers to let the Asturias camp to start their construction and operation immediately.

As the negotiations occurred, the group said the cement firm’s construction materials, which were loaded in a truck and a pick up truck, were already sighted near the area.

Farmers said the documents presented them were signed by former Mayor Peter Oliver Sevilla and that there was no approval from the provincial government for the company to operate in the area.

A conflict reportedly almost ensued had not the police managed to appease both camps, with the alleged construction materials of Asturias finally leaving the premises. GMANews.TV


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