Philippine Sumilao farmers appeal for global support for return of their land

Walk for Land, Walk for Justice

PANAW Sumilao MPC

San Vicente, Sumilao, Bukidnon

Contact no: +63-908-8849590

Position Paper on the Delayed Distribution of the 144-Hectare Land to Sumilao Farmers

We the Sumilao Farmers walked for more than 1,700 kilometers from Sumilao, Bukidnon to Manila, which started on October 10, 2007 and reached Malacanang on December 18, 2007. We demanded for the return of our 144-hectare ancestral land in Sumilao, Bukidnon.

On March 29, 2008, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed between the Sumilao Farmers, San Miguel Corporation (SMC), Office of the President, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Church, thereby giving back the 144-hectare land to us. The next day, we occupied and tilled the 50-hectare land which is part of the 144-hectare contested land. The remaining 94 hectares will be immediately acquired outside the San Miguel Foods Incorporated (SMFI) property.

Page 4, Section 2.02 of the MOA states, “Land outside the SMFI Property – in addition to the above-describe property, SMFI shall acquire and/or cause the transfer of approximately Ninety Four (94) Hectares of agricultural lands within Sumilao, Bukidnon, preferably within Barangay San Vicente, to complete a total of One Hundred Forty-Four (144) hectares, in favor of the qualified farmer- beneficiaries, from the list of properties presented by SMFI representatives x x x.”

It was only on April 16, 2010, or two years after the signing of Memorandum of Agreement with San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and the Sumilao Farmers, that we received the first batch of titles. During the awarding ceremony held at the gates of San Miguel Hog Farm in Sumilao, Bukidnon, SMFI President Francis Alejo III turned over the title covering the 50 hectares within the 144-hectare disputed property while DAR Regional Director Felix Aguhob awarded two (2) Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA) covering a total of 15 hectares which is outside the contested land. Also witnessing the event were Bishop Honesto Pacana, Sumilao Mayor Mary Ann Baula, SMC legal Counsel Atty. Fred Peñaflor and Sumilao legal counsel Atty. Arlene Bag-ao.

After the awarding ceremony, we the Sumilao Farmers went to the area were the 12-hectare land is situated 12 kilometers away from San Vicente, Sumilao. We saw that the land was already planted with pineapples by the Del Monte Philippines, Inc. (DMPI) The Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) of the 12 hectares was registered on October 8, 2009.  Whereas, according to a DMPI representative the pineapple was planted on only on January 2010.  During our ocular inspection together with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on November 2009 there were no pineapples planted on the subject property. We have no knowledge if the remaining 79 hectares to be distributed to the farmers are also planted with pineapples.

We understand that based on the MOA we signed last March 29, 2009, the remaining 94 hectares of land to be distributed to the farmers outside the 144-hectare property is clean of any encumbrances. We were dismayed of what we discovered during the awarding of the titles.

We appeal to our Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales to help us to find solution to our problem and fast track the distribution of the remaining 79 hectares which should be clean of any encumbrances.

We appeal to concerned sectors worldwide to send letters to Secretary Nasser Pangandaman of the Department of Agrarian Reform in the Philippines to honor the promises this government made to help us poor Sumilao farmers to finally own and till the land we have long struggled for.

Napoleon “Yoyong” Merida, Jr.

Chairperson, PANAW Sumilao – MPC

San Vicente, Sumilao, Bukidnon

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About ANGOC

A regional NGO association with members and partners from 14 Asian countries working on access to land, agrarian reforms & rural develop

Posted on May 1, 2010, in Access to Land Issues, Land Conflict, Land Grabbing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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