Land struggles rage in Tarlac and Negros
Hundreds of residents in Negros and Tarlac are struggling for their rights to land and welfare. In Tarlac, members of the Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Santa Lucia para sa Lupa, Kabuhayan at Paninirahan staged a protest before the Capas town hall on April 13. They are opposing land grabbing and destruction of their farms by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The AFP is using the Bases Conversion Law to seize productive farms and turn these into a part of the Camp O’Donell firing range. Initially, only up to 10 hectares were set to be included in the expansion plans of the firing range, but within a week, the soldiers had cleared 20 hectares. Residents confronted hundreds of soldiers sent by the Installation Management Battalion last April 12. They fear being evicted even from their homes.
Residents have previously complained about the proximity of the firing range to their farms. In the past, stray bullets from the firing range have killed a goat and a carabao.
The farmers demanded that the Capas local government: Stop land grabbing and destruction of crops, give compensation for damaged crops and property and investigate the soldiers for violating the rights of residents.
In Negros Oriental, hundreds of residents of Barangay San Francisico, Santa Catalina, together with the town mayor, indigenous Bukidnon tribes, and progressive organizations, protested on April 12 against the mining company operating in Sitio Tarug in the said village.
They demanded that the Midan Corporation stop mining explorations for gold deposits covering 1,000 hectares of land in the said sitio. According to them, the Mayor Peve Obaniana-Ligan did not permit its operations, and is, in fact, against it.
Indigenous groups also denounced the project which did not have their consent. According to the Santa Catalina Bukidnon Tribe Association, the forest that will be covered by the mine is part of their ancestral land. Their tribe have long lived in this forest since their first recognized leader named Tolong. According to law, the indigenous community must first provide their free, prior, and informed consent.
The barangay councils of the mining-affected villages also passed a resolution against its operations.