Worsening landlessness of tillers

This article is available in PilipinoBisaya

Peasants from Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog under the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and other peasant groups denounced the inutility of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) on its 35th anniversary on June 10. They marched along the streets of Manila to pound the Marcos regime for the law’s broken promises and its inaction amid various issues facing the agricultural sector. Furthermore, they also demanded justice for farmers who have become victims of state repression for fighting genuine land reform.

CARP only served and will continue to serve the interests of landlords and corporations. It made it difficult for farmers to own the land they till, while making it easy for landlords and big business to grab land.

The worsening state of landlessness is undeniable despite the implementation of the law. Based on the data of Census on Agriculture and Fisheries, from 1980 to 2012, the number of farmers who own land decreased by 12%. The struggle continues for peasants nationwide to claim land supposedly placed under CARP but which remains undistributed. The following are just a few:

Hacienda Tinang, Concepcion, Tarlac

After more than three decades of struggle, only now will farmer-beneficiaries be issued titles by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to land in the 200-hectare Hacienda Tinang in Concepcion, Tarlac. Among the 236 original recipients of Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) in 1995, only 90 beneficiaries will receive titles.

They are also calling for the dismissal of criminal cases against more than 100 farmers and their supporters who participated in the collective land cultivation last June 9, 2022.

Mallig, Isabela

Farmers and settlers in Sitio Villa Corazon, Barangay Manano, Mallig, Isabela are calling for the distribution of the 625-hectare public land where they have built their farms and homes. They said the Marcela Uy clan had already benefited from it for 60 years having been granted a permit to use it for grazing. Since the permit’s expiry, poor farmers and settlers have cultivated and resided on the land.

Farmers have been tilling the land for 30 years when the government awarded it again to the Uys in 2017. Uy in connivance with local office of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) used the National Greening Program to reclaim the land. Farmers know how the land was reclassified as forest land to deny them the land left idle by Uy. The DENR even filed a case against the farmers.

There is a similar case of forced eviction and harassment in nearby Barangay Trinidad, Mallig where a reclassified 200-hectare land was divided among big politicians.

Angandanan, Isabela

Hundreds of tenants in Manolito Arellano Tombo Estate in Cauayan City, Isabela were evicted from their farmlands by the armed goons of the estate’s landlord on July 2021. This happened after they refused to sell land already distributed to them.

The 23-hectare land in the said area was placed under CARP in 2012. DAR took seven years to finish identifying the legitimate beneficiaries of the program yet the land remains undistributed. Instead, the local office of the agency issued a fake Certificate of Non-Coverage to legitimize the sale of the land to others.

Tumauini, Isabela

Aging farmers in Tumauini, Isabela have been waiting for almost a decade for DAR’s resolution to issue titles for the land they have been tilling and to repeal the emancipation patents (EP) granted by the agency to non-owners of the land. DAR blamed the burning of the old DENR map in Region 2 as reason for the mistaken issuance of the EPs.

The 43-hectare land was originally owned by Abelardo Quina. Since 1960, he has allowed some farmers to till some parts of the land. Instead of eventually granting it to them, Quina sold it to another landlord with the DAR as his cohort. They are now set on evicting the decades-long tillers on the pretext of failure to pay rent.

Worsening landlessness of tillers