Farmers group to go on nationwide caravan to push for land rights

OVER a hundred farmers from Maramag, Bukidnon, will stage a protest rally Monday, October 9, before taking off for a month-long journey to
Manila to push for land rights.

Members of the Buffalo-Tamaraw-Limus (BTL), an alliance of farmers’ organizations in Musuan, Maramag town, stayed overnight in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)-Northern Mindana in Macanhan, Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City before the protest on Monday, October 9.

Ireneo Udarbe, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Northern Mindanao Region, said the group is asserting their rights over 500 hectares of land, a portion of the Central Mindanao University (CMU) property.

"Magkampuhan ang mga mag-uuma sa BTL aron ipanawagan ug i-rehistro nga sila ilhon sa gobyerno nga sila lehitimo nga nagtikad sa yuta sa
CMU (The farmers of BTL are gathering to reach out to the government that they own the land in CMU)," Udarbe said.

After a short demonstration Monday, the group will leave for the “Baktas BTL” and “Lakbayan,” a month-long caravan of farmers nationwide in Manila.

Udarbe said the BTL farmers will bring their land struggle in the central office of DAR together with other farmer organizations in the country.

"Ang mubo nga programa pagpaila lang nga sila humana og protesta diri
sa DAR-Northern Mindanao ug dal-on nila ang problema sa national office sa DAR (This short program means they’re done with their protest here and they will bring their concerns to the DAR national office)," Udarbe said.

"Magikan ang mga farmers diri paingon sa Butuan unya mosakay sa bus
paingon Manila. Moabot sila didto sa petsa 12 (The farmers will travel from here to Butuan and then ride a bus to Manila. They will arrive there on October 12," Udarbe added.

Farmers throughout the country will gather and set camp outside the
DAR central office for several days and series of mass mobilization will then take place.

The BTL farmers will also join the huge demonstration to call the government for genuine land reform in time for the “Farmers Week” this month.

Udarbe said the BTL's 800 farming families have been pressing their rights to own the portion of CMU land that they have been tilling for over three decades.

But until now they are deprived by their rights even with irrigation, electricity and other social services of the government.

Udarbe said the farmers were granted as beneficiaries of the land during the administration of late President Corazon Aquino but the state-run university appealed before the Supreme Court and won.

"Kana nga portion wala na tikara sa CMU. Gani ang uban portion sa yuta
gipaabangan man sa mga private institutions. Mao nagprotesta sila
balik para maila ang yuta (That portion of the land was not tilled by CMU. The other portions are being rented by private institutions. They are protesting to get the land back)," Udarbe added.

Udarbe said it’s high time for the government to hear the demands of the farmers and implement genuine land reform programs instead of favoring the expansions of plantations of the multinational companies.

"Daghan buslot nga balaod sa gobyerno nga nagpabor sa mga adonahan.
Gani gihimong negosyo sa gobyerno ang yuta nga unta libre nga
ipang-apod sa mga mag-uuma aron dili maglisod ang katawhan sa
pagkaon (There are many loopholes in our government’s laws that favor the rich. The government is making money out of these lands which were supposed to be given to the farmers for free so the people won’t be hungry)," Udarbe added.