Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hacienda Dolores farmers petition against Porac land reclassification ordinance

SAN FERNANDO CITY, Pampanga-Farmers of the 2,000-hectare Hacienda Dolores in Porac town, Pampanga have filed a petition to revoke the land reclassification ordinance approved by the municipal council.  The farmers belonging to Aniban ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Hacienda Dolores (Aniban), affiliated to Aguman Dareng Capampangan (Amc) and Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (Amgl, Farmers Alliance in Central Luzon) said that the ordinance has actually “licensed” the fencing operations of Leonardo-Lachenal-Leoncio Holdings (LLL) and FL Property Management Corp. (FL), both partner corporations of Ayala Land, Inc. that plans to convert the lands as Alvierra, eco-residential, commercial, tourist and light industrial project similar to Nuvali in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.  The groups submitted their petition to the municipal council while holding a protest in front of the Porac town hall.

“The land reclassification ordinance that allowed the land use conversion of farms cultivated by the people of Hacienda Dolores is totally undemocratic and partial to Ayala, LLL and FL, thus, it is being petitioned to be revoked by the affected Porac constituents,” Joseph Canlas said, Amgl chairperson.

The Hacienda Dolores agrarian dispute that intensified since 2011 has resulted the death of 2 farmers namely Arman Padiño and Menelao Barcia, serious injuries, illegal arrests and imprisonment of barangay chairman Antonio Tolentino.  

The groups’ petition cited that the ordinance was “railroaded”;  based on an false claim that the lands were “grasslands” and “without tenants,” thus, idle and unproductive; that the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) issued expemption and conversion orders of Ayta ancestral lands which are not under its jurisdiction but of the National Council for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP); that the municipal council discounted that the forefathers of present Hacienda Dolores farmers began cultivating the lands since before 1835 under Spanish colonial period, even under American and Japanese occupation; and that fences constructed by LLL and FL and restricting farmers to work on their lands are actually destroying their livelihood, caused their children to discontinue their education, demolition of their houses and reduction of their socio-economic well-being.

The groups claimed that more than a thousand residents of Hacienda Dolores signed the petition.  They added that farmers though became usual targets of violent attacks, have asserted their rights to land and vowed to continue their fight against Ayala Land, LLL and FL.  Hacienda Dolores farmers have set-up camp in fron of the DAR Region III office in the city of San Fernand and joined the recent seven-day march from Angeles city to Manila to demand free land distribution and non-extension of the Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“We are requesting the DAR region III office a dialogue regarding the issued exemption and conversion orders that were based on groundless claims,” Canlas said.

The groups said that LLL and FL do not have legitimate titles of the land they are presently occupying, hence, they could be held criminally and farmers could legally enter their lands.

“LLL and FL do not have a solid claim of the lands, so for this reason, they are actually land grabbers,” Canlas said.

“We challenge the municipal council of Porac to fulfill its mandate to its constituents by protecting their democratic rights and interests and not sell out to the rich and powerful such as Ayala Land, LLL and FL,” Canlas added.  


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