Ipinaskil ni: S3lv0 | Setyembre 13, 2008

Ateneo de Manila University Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral Expresses Support for Calatagan Farmers

Resolution and Statement of Support for Calatagan Farmers

Written by Office of the Secretary-General
Monday, 21 July 2008 00:28
Sponsored by: Committee on Social Concern and External Affiliations
Authored by: Rob Roque

A Resolution Calling for Support for the Calatagan Farmers

Whereas, Article V, Section 4 of the 2005 Sanggunian Constitution states that “The Sanggunian, recognizing the rightful and vital role of the Filipino youth in national efforts to advance and preserve freedom, democracy, human rights, national dignity and interest, social justice, unity, peace, and development in Philippine society, shall raise the Ateneo student body’s critical awareness of and proactive response to issues and their root causes affecting the life of the nation and the Filipino people.”;

Whereas, the Sanggunian, in its capacity as the representative of the student body, has had a history of supporting causes of social justice such as that of the Sumilao Farmers in 2007;

Whereas, the plight of the Calatagan farmers is, in the opinion of the Sanggunian, a clear case of gross neglect for social justice, primacy of food security over mineral extraction and care for the environment;

Wherefore, be it resolved that the Sanggunian shall release a public statement of support for the campaign of the Calatagan farmers stating the opinions of the Sanggunian on the issues surrounding the case and the unequivocal support of the Sanggunian in light of this judgement;

Wherefore, be it further resolved that the Sanggunian shall inform its constituency of the issues surrounding the case of the Calatagan farmers and find possible venues through which members of the community can show their support or be proactively involved in the campaign for social justice;

Wherefore, be it finally resolved that the Sanggunian shall inform its counterparts in other universities of its decision to support the Calatagan farmers and invite them to declare their support as well, in light of their ideals and thrusts;

Whereby all the aforementioned shall take effect upon a vote of at least a majority of the Central Board.

Noted by:

Omar Castañar
President
Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila


Statement of Support for the Calatagan Farmers

In line with its stated principles of upholding social justice, environmentalism and concern for the greater good of society, the Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila declares its unequivocal support for the Calatagan Farmers, the latest victims of social injustice plaguing our country today. We base our decision on the merit of the following points:

(1)    That in 1990, through Presidential Decree No. 27, the 507.87 hectare estate of Ceferino Ascue was distributed to 318 tenant farmers of Barangay Baha and Talibayog, Calatagan Batangas. Over the next decade, they would till the land they have been granted and by the end of that ten years, they were able to fully pay the land amortization to the government. In effect, the 318 farmers should be the legal owners of the land.
(2)    That in 1995, the heirs of Ceferino Ascue sold the property to Asturias Industries, despite the fact that the land had already been given to the farmers. In 1997, Asturias Industries obtained a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) based on a 1965 study of the Bureau of Mines, and an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) covering a land area including that of the Calatagan farmers. Based on this claim of considerable mineral resources buried below the estate, the company questions the legality of the land distribution to the farmers under PD 27.
(3)    That in August 4, 2000, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) nullified the coverage of the land distributed to the farmers because (1) the land holding was not primarily devoted to rice or corn production, (2) tenancy relations were not established, (3) the land ceased to be agricultural when the mineral reserves under the estate were proven. DAR released this judgment despite being the same institution that facilitated the distribution of the land to the farmers.
(4)    That in 2005, the Supreme Court sustained the ruling of DAR on the matter.

We respectfully stand by the farmers on this issue because we believe that the state should not prioritize bigger corporations over the farmers who form the base of our society; that it should uphold social justice over corporate greed; that it should prioritize environmental protection, agricultural development and agrarian reform in the face of a looming food and environmental crisis, over mineral extraction despite its economic benefits; that the government’s responsibility is to uphold the greater good of its constituents and it will do so if the Calatagan farmers’ rights are protected.

We believe that only when the state begins to uphold the ideals of truth and justice, and the common good will our country achieve the progress and prosperity it continues to long for. We believe that standing by victims of social injustice such as the Calatagan farmers is a crucial step in achieving this.


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