Farmers stage protest on disputed Porac land

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011


PORAC -- Some 200 farmers and members of the Aniban ng Nakakaisang Mamamayan ng Hacienda Dolores (Aniban) staged a protest rally in front of municipal hall here against LLL Holdings and FL Properties and Management Corp. 

The farmers, along with their families from Barangay Hacienda Dolores, are protesting the arrest made on 12 farmers during the dispersal last week inside the 700-hectare contested land allegedly owned by the corporation inside the village.

Aniban said in a statement that in November 4, after trying to prevent the fencing of the 700-hectare agricultural lands in Hacienda Dolores, hundreds of farmers were violently dispersed and 12 of them arrested by the local police.

PAMPANGA. Aeta tribeswomen of Porac join farmers in Tuesday’s protest rally in front of Porac town hall and police station. (Chris Navarro)

The farmers were arrested without warrants, after the local police responded to complaints coming from the employees of the two firms. The Office of the 2nd Assistant Prosecutor found the arrest “in accordance with law.”

The farmers -- Ener Tolentino, Elmar Tolentino, Victor Tolentino, Roel Tolentino, Marley Salta, Roberto Pandino, Nicolas Pineda, Dayb Escoto, Oliver Pineda, Fernando Mananquil, Ronel Manoloto and Roel Tolentino -- were charged with grave threats with P24,000 bail each.

Unrest

The unrest started when the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) issued an order exempting the LLL and FL landholdings from the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) coverage in 2005.

Carp, also known as Republic Act Number 6657, aims to distribute lands to farmers they cultivated in a span of 10 years.

It was revealed that even the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) had issued Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title RO3POR-0709 123, covering some 18 hectares, for the Ayta Tribes of Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga. But some 200 hectares of these areas claimed by the Aetas are allegedly acquired and titled to FL and LLL Corporations.

Earlier, the farmers protested the exemption of more than 700 hectares of land in Barangay Hacienda Dolores from Carp.

Edgar Bernal, legal counsel of the Aniban ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Hacienda Dolores (ANMHD), said the farmers earlier sent a petition to DAR Regional Chief Teofilo Inocencio, requesting him to include 700 hectares of land in Barangay Hacienda Dolores to be covered by Carp.

However, the huge agricultural land in Hacienda Dolores was exempted by the DAR regional office after LLL Holdings Incorporated (LLHI) and FL Land Holdings (FLLH) showed titles of the land.

LLHI claimed about 298 hectares of the land, while FLLH claimed the other 456 hectares.

Aside from the land titles, landowners also said 80 percent of the land was not yet developed due to its 18-degree slope measure, which according to the law, is automatically exempted from the Carp.

The farmers said they were shocked with the move of the two firms, stressing that they are still hoping for due process and dialogue to happen with regards to the said properties.

Farmers said they have planted rice crops and fruit-bearing trees in the said land area. They also said most of them have grown up in that land.
 
Farmers released

As of Tuesday, Mayor Condralito dela Cruz facilitated the release of the farmers.

Dela Cruz presented to the local police a copy of Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Otto Macabulos’ release order at 12:40 p.m. Tuesday.

The complainants withdrew the case of grave threats.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on November 09, 2011.

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