DAR: Evacuate Mindoro farmers from homeland

SAN JOSE, Occidental Mindoro—The Department of Agrarian Reform has ordered the eviction of 48 farmer-families from the agricultural land in this municipality which they have been tilling for more than 60 years.

The 27 hectares of public land they are farming in Barangay Labangan here were awarded by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos to 11 original tenants in the latter’s land reform program under Presidential Decree No. 27. 

Leaders of the farming community in this province have appealed to concerned government agencies to avoid hasty decisions as these will only aggravate the already tense insurgency problem “ignited by partisan agrarian reform agenda.”

Martin V. Bernal, DAR’s provincial agrarian reform adjudicator, directed Provincial Sheriff Agustin F. Feria  Jr. to implement the order of eviction of 48 farmer-families, or 400 individuals, with the full force of the law.

In his notice to vacate sent to the heads of 48 farmer-families, Sheriff Feria said that to “ensure the prompt and peaceful implementation” of the law, his office is allowed to seek the assistance of the Philippine National Police and units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or other law enforcement agencies of the government. 

Leaders of the affected farmers, however, reacted to Darab’s eviction order, saying that they could not just leave the land their parents had been farming since 1946 and already owned since 1972.

Florante D. Selga, leader of the 48 affected farmers, said “as we are now landowners of this land based on the documents of ownership in our possession,    how can the government evict us in favor of a rich and influential family that never has gone to our place and touch its soil?”

Selga, 49, is one of the 48 heirs of 11 original tenants who settled on the public land in Barangay Labangan here in San Jose.

President Marcos eventually awarded them certificates of land transfer on Oct. 21, 1972 “abolishing the old concept of land ownership by a few and emancipating the tenant farmers from the bondage of tenancy.”

“Ang DAR ang puno’t dulo ng hindi magandang usapin sa mga magsasakang    binigyan nila ng lupa na di naman ipinagtanggol ng totoo hanggang umabot po sa usapin ng demolisyon,” Selga said.

Occidental Mindoro province is the hotbed of insurgency since 1969 because of numerous cases of land problems that are often blamed on DAR and other related government agencies. 

The Register of Deeds, the DAR, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Bureau of Lands are often alleged as “conspiring with influential landowners to evict farmers from the lands they already owned.”

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