Archdiocese backs farmers’ claim on 600 has.

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Saturday, May 10, 2014


THE Archdiocese of Cebu has expressed its support for Cebu City farmers who want to recover the 600 hectares they lost during Martial Law.

Cebu Archdiocesan Discernment Group Convenor Msgr. Romualdo G. Kintanar said they were persuaded that “the powers of government were used” by the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA), now the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority or (Tieza), to seize the properties from more than 100 families in the mountain barangays of Babag, Malubog, Sirao and Pung-ol Sibugay.

“They took advantage of the power of eminent domain which enabled the PTA to secure writs of possession and demolition in order to break down the resistance of the farmers and landowners, forcing them to sell their lands they had depended on for their livelihood,” said Kintanar in a statement.

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Kintanar quoted the apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis, who said everyone must help “the poor who are living in the barrios and the countryside landless, homeless, lacking food and health care.”

The claimants asked the Cebu City Council to pass a resolution asking President Benigno Aquino III to return 500 to 600 hectares to them. They are supported by their barangay captains and assisted by lawyer Ramon Ceniza, former Cebu Provincial Board member.

Ceniza said the PTA, land speculators and cronies of former president Ferdinand Marcos allegedly grabbed the lands through the use of writs of possession and demolition.

The seized lands, said Ceniza, were reportedly intended to be part of the tourism zone project, which was abandoned after the Marcos regime ended in 1986, when Aquino’s mother Corazon assumed the presidency.

“PTA cannot legally insist on holding on to the 150 hectares because its tourism zone development project had been long abandoned,” he said.

A claimant who is an alleged crony of Marcos, he said, cannot hold on to the estimated 350 to 450 hectares because “these are ill-gotten wealth.” (KAL)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 10, 2014.

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