MILITANT group declared its support for Fr. Farley Santillan in the quarry issue in Barangay Alangilan in Bacolod City.

Isidro Castillo, regional chairman of the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers-Negros, said Most Holy Rosary Parish priest Fr. Santillan had been very vocal in his support to the residents opposing the quarry operations in Barangay Alangilan, particularly the quarry operation of Alberto Arceo.

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Castillo's group also pushes for the inclusion of the 25-hectare Arceo property under the coverage of the government's Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp).

Castillo said that, because of the consistent stand of Santillan against the alleged pollution and destruction of the environment, he got the ire of Arceo who had allegedly initiated moves in collaboration with the barangay officials of Alangilan led by village chairman Degie Tanista to have him transferred to another parish.

Last Tuesday, Tanista filed a petition signed by 1,013 residents of the village to Bishop Vicente Navarra of the Diocese of Bacolod seeking the transfer of Santillan, claiming that the priest is creating division among local residents and had been using the pulpit to advance his personal interest in the village.

Castillo said they are condemning the efforts to transfer Santillan because it is anti-people and pro-landlord.

"Barangay captain Tanista should be condemned because he sided with the interest of the landlord and not of the masses who are paying his salary as a public servant," the militant leader said.

Ermalyn Glino, chairperson of Kusog sang Ginpigos nga Pigado sa Sitio Arceo, said that residents who signed the petition to transfer their parish priest were allegedly misled and were made to believe that the signature being gathered by Tanista was intended to support the barangay's eco-tourism project.

Glino said the residents were made to sign in a blank bond paper and they were not aware that they are signing a petition to oust Fr. Santillan.

She also scored their barangay officials for siding with Arceo, claiming that said officials were nowhere to found when she and 60 other farm workers who petitioned for Carp coverage of Arceo's property were ejected from their homes.

"It was Fr. Santillan who helped us and gave us support in our quest for a land to till and means for our livelihood," Glino stressed.

The group is urging residents of Alangilan to join hands in protecting the remaining forest frontier of Bacolod and not to be misled by the ploy of their barangay officials. (TED)