Lakbay ng Taumbayan, a nationwide march that began in Marawi City last week, with a march originating from the north starting in Baguio City on May 5, visited Bacolod City yesterday and demanded farmers be granted ownership of the lands they till.
“Dahil ang mga panginoong may lupa ang nagmamay-ari ng lupa, wala kaming [mga magsasaka] boses sa kung anong mangyayari sa sektor ng agrikultura na kami naman mismo ang bumubuhay (Since ‘elites’ own the land, we farmers have no voice in what will happen to the agricultural sector, which we work give life to),” explained march participant Reggie Galaritta. “Mahina na suporta mula sa gobyerno, naging bulnerable ang ating mga sakahan sa kompetisyon ng malalaking dayuhang korporasyon (Poor government support has made our farmlands vulnerable to big foreign business competition).”
The march seeks to emphasize the importance of solving the country’s agricultural problems first, which includes granting farmers land ownership.
Organizers say the government needs to prioritize Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program implementation.
They also claim the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has “failed farmers” and often sides with landowners.
“Due to the concentration of power in the hands of landed elites in the region, and their subsequent manipulation of land titles, huge backlogs and slow processing remain so that lands won’t be covered by CARP,” the organization said in a press release.
During a recent visit to Sagay City, President Rodrigo Duterte distributed 3,423 certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs).
DAR noted, their 2019 distribution target for Negros Occidental is 12,000 hectares.
Meanwhile, amid calls by local groups for the land distribution process to be fast-tracked, DAR Secretary John Castriciones explained the process itself requires 25 steps before CLOAs are provided to agrarian reform beneficiaries. He noted, some instances require court dates.
“If we are able to finish the processing of the CLOAs, we immediately distribute,” he said./WDJ