34 Ormoc beneficiaries of CARP awarded their land
ORMOC CITY, Philippines – After 20 years of waiting, 23 agrarian reform beneficiaries from Barangay Sumanga and 11 from Barangay Valencia, both in Ormoc City, were awarded and installed onto the agricultural lands of the Larrazabals and Tans covered under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Some 300 officials and people from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Philippine National Police (PNP), farmer beneficiaries, and advocacy groups were present last June 20, 2016, to assist and show support to the beneficiaries.
In 1996, some 35 hectares of agricultural land owned by the Larrazabal family of Leyte was distributed among farmer beneficiaries through an awarding of certificates of land ownership. The farmers, however, were deprived of their rights to till the land by the Potenciano and Aniceta Larrazabal Enterprise Corportation (PALEC), which kept use of the area for large-scale sugar cane farming. Some 19.062 hectares of rice land previously owned by the family of Gerardo Tan in Barangay Valencia also suffered similar circumstances.
Over 20 years, around 10 attempts were made to plan for the installation of the Sumanga and Valencia farmers.
Plans were made together with the farmer beneficiaries, NGO support groups, the PNP, AFP, media and other line agencies. The DAR, however, kept deciding against the installation due to a high possibility of violence that could erupt.
Further attempts to award and install the landwere rescheduled due to legal cases filed by the lawyers of the Larrazabal and Tan landholdings, which were then countered by the farmer beneficiaries who filed a motion for reconsideration.
A series of installation and security planning meetings were held leading up to the June 2016 installation, with additional planning issues causing the date of installation to be pushed back or otherwise moved. Despite the setbacks, lawyer Claire Demaisip, legal officer of KAISAHAN, said "these incidents did not dampen the spirit of our farmers in fighting for their land rights."
She added, "We hope that the events here in Sumanga will finally end the oppression of the remaining uninstalled ARBs in Leyte.”
Speaking of the victory, Pablo Silva, a trained paralgeal and leader of the Sumanga Farmers Association said, "We feel reborn and we are better off and we know we now have enough to eat. We have land to live and grow food on."
Around 1,000 agrarian reform benficiaries have yet to be installed in Ormoc and Kananga, Leyte. – Rappler.com