Update on the Calatagan Farmers’ Campaign

Friday 19 September 2008 by LRAN

Several events have occurred since the Calatagan farmers launched their “pre-walk” in 1 September 2008. On that day, the farmers put up streamers that contain their calls along the road of Barangays Baha and Talibayog. On 4 September, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Manila and Chair of the NASSA, celebrated a Holy Mass in Calatagan. A day after, the farmers received the Resolution of the DAR Secretary denying the farmers’ Motion for Reconsideration on their petition to cover the contested 507-hectare land under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). On 7 September, Akbayan partylist Representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel also visited Calatagan to express solidarity with the farmers.

 The church supports the struggle of the Calatagan farmers

In his homily, Bishop Pabillo said that land, being a creation of God, must be protected by the people. We are stewards of his creation and as such we are accountable for it. Land should also be shared by many and not be monopolized by a few. The poor and marginalized must have access to God’s creation so that the rich could not boast before the Lord. Bishop Pabillo went on to say that these two reasons - the need to conserve and share God’s creation - make the Catholic Church doubt mining as an industry. He noted that up to present, mining in the country remains irresponsible. With this, he concludes by encouraging the Calatagan farmers to pursue their fight for their agrarian lands against the onslaught of cement mining.

The following are the excerpts of Bishop Pabillo’s homily:

"Kanina po sa pagbasa natin ang inyong isinagot ay ’ang daigdig, lahat doon, ang may ari ay ang ating Poon.’ Inulit-ulit po natin yan. At yun po ay totoo. Hindi tayo ang may ari ng lupa, ang lupa ang may ari sa atin.

Sa totoo, tagapangasiwa lamang tayo, kaya ang may ari ng lahat ay ang Dios. Kaya dapat tingnan natin, ano ba ang gusto ng may-ari? Ano ba ang gusto niya? At ito po ang gusto ng Diyos: ginawa ng Diyos ang lahat at ipinagkatiwala sa tao kasi ito ay para sa lahat. Na ang kayamanan ng lupa ay mapakinabangan ng mas maraming mga tao, hindi lang ng iilan.

Ito ang dahilan kung bakit ang simbahan nakikipanig sa mga maliliit na mga magsasaka, na mga mangingisda, na kayo ay magkaroon ng lupa. Kalooban ng Dios na hindi lang yung mga mayayaman ang may lupa dahil sa may pera sila, na sila ang may ari ng libo libong ektarya, at ang mga tao ay mamawalan ng pakinabang sa lupa.

Higit sa lahat, ang gusto ng may ari na ang kanyang ginawa, ang kanyang nilalang, ay mapakinabangan ng mas matagal na panahon. Kaya nga nagdududa rin ang simbahan tungkol sa pagmimina. Kasi lahat ng pagmimina ay paninira. Kapag minina mo na, sinira mo na. Hindi ito sustainable.

Ang totoo, iyang bundok na yan habang nandiyan, yan ang nagbibigay buhay. Kapag yan ay minina, pag sinira na yan, mawawala na mga puno diyan, mawawala na ang tubig at ang lupa. Kaya dito dalawang bagay ang ating pinaglalaban at kasama nyo kami dyan. Na hindi nararapat, na hindi makatarungan na ang malalaking lupain ay napapag-ari lamang ng iilan, na ang marami ay mawawalan ng pakinabang sapagkat hindi yan ang gusto ng Dios. Ang gusto ng Dios ay mas maraming makinabang sa kanyang nilikha.

Ang gusto ng Diyos na pangalagaan ay iyong sustainable, yung palaging nagbibigay ng buhay. Ang pagmimina ay isang industriya na sa ngayon sa Pilipinas ay hindi pa responsable. Na ang pagminina ay paninira lang ang gagawin at sila lang ang makikinabang sa ngayong panahon. Kapag nasira na, ang susunod na henerasyon ay hindi na makikinabang. Tandaan po natin ito, ang daigdig, ang lahat doon, ang may ari ating Poon.

Pero sinasabi nyo na ang hirap yata ng mga laban dahil sila iyong may pera, sila iyong may impluwensiya, sila yung may technical knowledge, may mga potential na pwede pang mag import sa labas para gawin ang gusto nila, sila po yong may plano, tayo po ay wala naman pong alam, mangmang naman tayo. Kaya maganda rin pong pakinggan ang ating unang pagbasa, nung sinabi po dito, ang akala ng tao na karunungan ay kamangmangan sa paningin ng Dios.

At ang Dios ay gumagamit ng maliliit na tao, upang ibagsak yung malalaki. Upang walang magmayabang sa harapan niya. At yan po ang pagkilos ng Diyos sa kasaysayan, palaging panig siya sa mga maliliit at hindi sa mga makapangyarihan. Kaya ito po ang mabuting balita: kahit na si Hesus na anak ng Dios ay naging tao, naging maliit na tao, isang karpintero. Ipinanganak sa liblib sa Nazaret, na walang nakakakilala. Nakita natin na nung siya ay magsimula ng magpahayag, ang pinili niya na maging mga kasama niya, na maging mga apostol niya, ay mga mangingisda.

Kaya tingnan niyo napakaganda po ng mga mensahe ng Diyos sa araw na ito, angkop na angkop sa ating ginagawa. At ang bawat misa po ay isang patotoo na hindi tayo iiwan ng Diyos. Kung naibigay nga ni Hesus ang kanyang buhay sa atin, ano pa ang hindi niya maibibigay sa atin? Sa mga kahilingan natin? Kaya bawat misa ay nagpapatatag sa ating loob dahil mahal tayo ng Diyos. Hindi tayo pababayaan at ito ay paalaala ng pag-ibig ng Diyos. Na ibinibigay niya ang kanyang buhay, ang kanyang laman sa atin, kaya hindi niya tayo pababayaan. Kaya’t taglay ang ganitong paninindigan, ipagpatuloy po natin ang ating ipinaglalaban at ang ating pagdiriwang."

Ayon din sa salita ng Diyos na tayo ay magkaisa at may lakas tayo kung tayo ay nagkakaisa. Pero kung kanya-kanya tayo at walang pakialaman, walang mangyayari. Ayon din po sa salita ng Diyos na ang ating pakikibaka ay mapayapa. Hindi tayo gumagamit ng dahas. Nagtatawag tayo ng pansin sa media at sa mga tao, nagpapakasakit tayo pero ayaw natin na ang iba ang masaktan. Sa patuloy po nating pakikibaka sana ay gabayan tayo ng salita ng Diyos. Siguradong tayo ay magtatagumpay kasi hindi tayo pababayaan ng Panginoong Diyos.

Bishop Pabillo visited the two barangays by boat and land. He also went to the proposed relocation site where billboards of Asturias were placed. He obliged to requests to visit the house of the farmers, look at their farms, and see an ailing EP holder.

In Congress or in the streets

Representative Hontiveros-Baraquel, for her part, gave an update on the advocacy for CARP Extension with Reforms (CARPER). She does not lose hope that CARPER would be passed into law by December of this year. Like the advocacy in Congress, Representative Hontiveros-Baraquel commits to see the Calatagan farmers through until they reach the victory on their land case. She reiterates that Akbayan is with the farmers since the start of their long struggle. As such, the party is not there to give inspiration but once more, as in many times in the past, to draw lessons from, and inspiration for, Akbayan’s work.

During her visit, Representative Hontiveros-Baraquel was accompanied by colleagues from Akbayan and the farmers’ federation Pambasang Katipunan ng Samahan sa Kanayunan (PKSK).

Unfavorable DAR resolution, letter opinion, and memorandum

These statements of support were welcomed by farmers who once again received a non-favorable decision from the DAR. In its resolution dated 2 September 2008, the Office of the DAR Secretary said the farmers’ Motion for Reconsideration on their Petition for CARP Coverage is unmeritorious. This is because the Supreme Court already had a ruling in the Aninao Vs. Asturias decision.

Despite the Calatagan farmers’ arguments that they have titles over the land, that they have fully paid for it in the Land Bank of the Philippines, and that the land remains agricultural to this day, the DAR refused to cover the landholding under CARP.

 The Calatagan farmers were not surprised with this decision.

In 11 June 2008, DENR Secretary Lito Atienza issued a letter to DAR Secretary Nasser Pangandaman informing him of the legal position of the DENR. Accordingly, the 507-hectare land is mineral in classification. He made this letter in spite of a case pending at his office seeking the cancellation of Asturias’s mining contract. His letter became the basis of DAR Undersecretary Delfin Samson in issuing a memorandum that the DAR could not cover the 507-hectare land under CARP. Like the DENR, the DAR issued the memorandum even if it is set to decide on the farmers’ Motion for Reconsideration on the Petition for CARP Coverage.

The Calatagan farmers ask: How can the DENR and the DAR rule objectively on our cases when they already made actions against us?

They further ask: should we make another sacrifice just to illustrate that we are serious in our struggle for our land?

 Another walk for land

The farmers are gathering their strength for a renewed campaign. They intend to walk again. This time, it would be a walk of the EP Holders, the 48 to 76 year old women and men who received their land titles in 1989-1990, paid for their amortization, and cultivated the soil so that they could feed their children, send them to school, and give them a decent life.

They ask that we walk with them. Join Bishop Pabillo and Representative Hontiveros-Baraquel who walked with them and who intend to see them until victory. Join the farmers’ Archbishop, Most Reverend Ramon Arguelles, who does everything to highlight the case be it in Malacanang or in the Office of the Provincial Governor. Join the Ateneo community that welcomed the farmers’ spokespersons when they were hopping from room to room to create awareness. Join the OSCI of Ateneo and the many students who would hold a Calatagan week in campus. Join the DLSU students who planted mangroves to add a layer of protection to the beautiful yet threatened ecosystem. Join the artists, the musicians who would sing with and sing for the farmers. Join the community organizers who live with the farmers to facilitate the numerous discussions. Join the lawyers and the paralegals who journey with the farmers in using the law as a tool for their empowerment.

The support groups of the farmers often meet at the KAISAHAN Office.

- Feel free to call us at 433-0750 or 926-6042.

- Jane D. Capacio

Executive Director, KAISAHAN

Convener, Task Force Baha Talibayog

http://capacio.wordpress.com



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