Farmers to Marañon: We won’t vacate Capitol

FARMER-protesters camping outside the Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City have no plans of vacating the area until they can get a favorable response from Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., their leader said Thursday, July 21.

Some 40 farmer-members of Hacienda Ilimnan Farm Workers Association and National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW)-Negros occupied the entrance behind Capitol building starting Friday night.

The farmer-petitioners are seeking dialogue with the governor, and even sought the help of President Rodrigo Duterte and other national organizations for their claim on a portion of the province-owned Negros First Ranch at Hacienda Ilimnan in Barangay Sta. Rosa, Murcia.

However, Marañon on Wednesday refused, saying “it is useless to have a dialogue with professional demonstrators.”

Hernanie Barros, secretary general of NSFW-Negros, said they will continue to demand Marañon or any of his representatives to allow them to reoccupy the 12-hectare portion of the property.

Barros said that one thing that can be considered as “useless” is to stop their protest without securing the place they can go back to.

“We have no choice but to stay here as we cannot cultivate the land fenced by the provincial government and guarded by police and military forces,” he added.

The Provincial Government had lost its petition to exclude the property from Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) coverage, based on the ruling of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

This prompted the farmers to troop to the Negros First Ranch last week, but they were dispersed by the police and the army.

Barros said they expect to meet with Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson today.

“If no favorable decision is reached, we will continue to camp out and might even live permanently in the Capitol grounds,” he added.

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