Porac farmers affected by development project-A A +A
Monday, November 4, 2013
PORAC -- Farmers in Hacienda Dolores here are affected by the ongoing construction of an eco-residential and tourism estate by several private corporations here.
This was the observation of several groups led by the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL), which conducted a fact-finding mission on the alleged land grabbing and displacement of farmers in the area.
AMGL chair Joseph Canlas said two big corporations allegedly claimed about 754 hectares of the 2,099-hectare Hacienda Dolores which is connected by an interchange of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx).
"The people of Hacienda Dolores are in grave distress, facing the land grabbing measures these companies," Canlas, who is also the Anakpawis Party-list regional coordinator, said.
"The private corporations have violated the socio-economic rights of the people of Hacienda Dolores, when they were barred to attending their farms since 2011. They also destroyed crops, bulldozed farms, and their guards snatched livestock and poultry owned by the farmers. They filed trumped up charges against the farmers resulting to illegal arrests. These corporations are essentially killing the people as their sources of livelihood are being cut off," Canlas said.
The group initially documented 26 cases of destruction and divestment of properties, victimizing 21 farmers and five peasant women.
Aside from these, there were also one case of illegal mass arrest victimizing 12 farmers on November 4, 2011 and one case of illegal arrest and detention on July 28 this year.
The fact-finding group also reported two separate cases of harassment, threat and intimidation and a case of coercion to a farmer to sign a waiver of voluntary surrender of land and recruitment of local and indigenous Aeta to serve as goons and security guards.
Ruben Zalta, 79, one of the eldest farmers in the village, was a victim of coercion. He was reportedly forced to sign a waiver on August 24 this year when about 20 unidentified men in jackets and bonnet surrounded him with his 81-year-old wife, Teresita.
After the incident, he filed a complaint at the barangay hall but was told to bring the matter to the municipal hall, according to Canlas.
At the town hall, he was advised to return to the barangay hall but faced with chairman Nestor Tolentino, his son-in-law replying “wala na tayong magagawa dahil nasa korte na,” (there is nothing we can do as it is already at the courts).
At present, his house is being used by security guards as post.
Rossan Colobong, Mercedita Angeles, Filipina Franco, Iluminada Ignacio, Rowena Santiago, Josephine De Jesus and Virginia Ayson resort to other work such as laundry, marketing and retail as they were not able to harvest their crops as their farms were fenced by the developers, Canlas said.
“They said that their crops were allegedly stolen by security guards and this has affected their way of life as they lost source of income, for food and schooling of their children,” Canlas said.
A developer has publicized their plan with Hacienda Dolores, covering 1,000 hectares to be developed similar to the Nuvali project in Sta. Rosa city in Laguna province.
The two corporations had already barred at least 350 farmers from attending their farms.
Canlas called on different sectors to support Porac farmers.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on November 05, 2013.