Agrarian problem

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


LAST Tuesday, two farmers came to our house. They are neighbors in a sitio close by the sea of Barangay Nangka, about four kilometers north of the town’s center. They came to report that the family who settled in the place owned by my mother-in-law now claims to be the owner of the land. The family asked them to leave their farm lots, and threatened to cut down their fruit-bearing banana and other plants.

The “arrogant” family, the two farmers told me, was a late settler of the place but claims to have already been issued an agrarian certificate of land entitlement some years back. It is something that I heard about but has not directly been told or informed about. I asked the two farmers if they have seen documents by the claimants to support their claim, but they were just shown a document but were not given a copy.

I told the two farmers that if what they told me were true, then they have a right to stand their ground and resist any effort to drive them out, considering they were the original tenants of the farmland. But how the situation happened is because of the way the government’s agrarian reform program was started some years ago.

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At that time, the effort to institute a land reform program was politically motivated.

It was an effort largely aimed to show the Filipinos there was consciousness among our national leaders regarding the plight of our people who exist below the so-called poverty line.

And so it was that the initial driving philosophy of our nation’s land reform program was to “give land to the landless.” And the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) starting thrust was to seek the landless and find ways to free them from the clutches of poverty.

It was later on when concerned social leaders realized that the land reformists did not carefully define the range and limitation of the term “land for the landless.”

Politically, it sounded great and socially viable.

But what happened to the well-off but landless because they worked in the office and would they not qualify to have lands under the “land for the landless” program?

This was pointed out to me when I was in Mindanao the other year by a media man. He said that some of their workers had gone out to areas in outlying barangys and claimed lands with uncertain settlers and settled in the place on the strength of being landless.

It also happened here. Some farmers in the Hacienda Osmeña, which is now owned by the Chiongbians, complained that poultry workers of the land owner had eased them out of the part of the hacienda they were working on because they claimed they were landless themselves.

Considering they were working in the hacienda, they had a reason to work on a piece of land since they were landless, too.

Now, back to the two farmers who visited me the other day. How do you resolve the fact that the land claimant has been issued a certificate of land ownership award (CLOA) by the DAR in our town? How does PNoy plan to resolve problems like this under his leadership?

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 07, 2014.

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