Task Force Baha and Talibayog
Calatagan Farmers’ Campaign Update
July 01, 2008
Looming threat of Asturias’s entry of construction materials
hangs in the air of Baha and Talibayog, Calatagan
Two hundred farmers, qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries, some barangay councilors and their support groups trooped into the streets of Barangays Baha and Talibayog last night to barricade two points of entry in the said barangays.
The farmers did this in response to the news they received regarding Asturias’ plan to bring in construction materials inside their barangays. Fortunately, nothing happened last night but the looming threat of entry of the Asturias camp into their community made their nights sleepless. They decided to actively monitor the movement of the Asturias camp in their community since Friday.
On the night of June 27, Friday, the farmers received news that Asturias would be conducting Mangrove Tree Planting, Medical Mission and a Mass in the communities of Baha and Talibayog.
At 6:00 am on June 28, Asturias together with their support group conducted their mangrove tree planting activity. At 8:00am, 12 policemen arrived in the area and immediately went to the barangay hall where the medical mission was on going. At 10am, Mayor Sofia Palacio arrived in the area with Mr. Gari Sevilla, one of Asturias’ representatives and Mr. Harlan Torres, a former municipal councilor of Calatagan. They went in and out of the area without acknowledging the presence of Calatagan farmers who were on the streets at the time.
After the Asturias group went for lunch, the policemen came back and started negotiating for the entry of construction materials in the barangay. The policemen showed some documents that they claimed were complete. Thus, the farmers should let the Asturias camp to start their construction and operation immediately. When all of this was on going, the construction materials which were loaded in a truck and a pick up truck can be seen from where the farmers are located.
However, the farmers immediately noticed that the documents that the policemen showed to them were not complete. The documents were signed by the former Mayor Peter Oliver Sevilla and there was no approval from the provincial government to operate in the area.
The farmers asserted their right over their land. They did not budge in their position.
At 4:00pm, the policemen requested the farmers and the Asturias to back off from each other for 100 meters. The farmers did move from their position while the Asturias camp complied with the policemen’s request.
During this time, the policemen also removed the checkpoints that the farmers constructed in the road. According to them, that checkpoint was not official such that it is just obstructing the barangay road. The farmers allowed the policemen to do so.
At 9:00pm, the PNP local chief once again requested everyone to go home but the farmers said that they would just go home when the construction materials brought by Asturias’s would leave their barangay.
Thirty minutes thereafter, the Asturias’s camp together with the materials and the policemen left the barangays. Some members of Task Force Baha Talibayog (TFBT) followed the Asturias’s camp to make sure that they actually leave the barangay premises.
After this incident, many of the farmers decided not to go home and instead watch the two entry points of Baha and Talibayog.
Call for Action
You can support the farmers cause by:
· Be part of the Buklod Bakod activity starting on Saturday, July 5, 2008. This will be the first day of a community wide fencing of the farmers homelots and farmlots;
· Discuss their issue to your community, school and friends and gather support for the farmers cause;
· Be part of the support group of the Calatagan farmers; and
· Lend them a hand through your prayers.