Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nueva Ecija farmers launched caravan against massive land grabbing, LUC

Farmers from Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL, Farmers’ Alliance in Central Luzon) and its provincial chapter AMGL – Nueva Ecija launched its protest caravan against massive land grabbing, land use conversion and displacement in the province aiming to rally more farmers against the futility of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with “Reforms” (CARPer) and projects promoted by the Aquino government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program.

“This is the second protest caravan by Nueva Ecija farmers to uphold their rights to land and preserve the agricultural productivity of the province,” said Jospeh Canlas, AMGL Chairperson.

AMGL-NE reported that there is a worsening trend of cancellation of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA), Certificate of Land Transfer (CLT) and Emancipation Patents (EP), particularly through Land Bank’s foreclosure notices to farmers and cancellation petitions filed by landowners at the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

The groups said that the caravan would enroute towns General Tinio, Peñaranda, Laur, Bongabon, Carranglan, San Jose City, Lupao, Muñoz, Llanera, Talavera and Cabanatuan City until February 11.  In addition, the farmers would hold programs at protest points along the way to be joined by farmers and other supporters who are facing agrarian issues. 

Nueva Ecija farmers also protested the forthcoming government projects particularly promoted by the Aquino government’s PPP program.  AMGL-NE is protesting against the planned Central Luzon Expressway (CLEx) that would traverse from Tarlac City to Cabanatuan City then to San Jose City.  CLEx Phase 1 involves the construction of 28.2-km costing P15.92-B while CLEx Phase 2, 35.2-km with a project cost of P14.2-B.  The Dept. of Public Works and Highways announced that CLEx Phase 1 project has finished the feasibility study on January 2010, preparatory study on August 2011 and at present at the stage of selection of detailed design consultant until September 2012.  The project is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under the Official Development Assistance (ODA) amounting to P12.57-B.

“Government projects would definitely transform Nueva Ecija from being the rice granary into a province of concrete expressways and industrial, commercial and residential estates.  It would destroy the province’s agricultural productivity that would eventually lead to massive displacement of farmers, decline of rice and vegetable production, then finally to food shortage within the province,” Canlas said.

“Nueva Ecija farmers are now on the brink of being displaced from their lands and without the implementation of a genuine land reform program, unrest would be inevitable within the province.  The Aquino government itself is pushing the farmers to rebel through their projects that would strip them off of their source of livelihood,” he added.

AMGL said that the CLEx project would lead to massive land grabbing and speculation as it would result to the sudden surge of land value.  Farmers who cultivate and maintain productive agricultural lands would consequently be transformed to landless farmworkers or urban poor in case they migrate to the urban centers.  AMGL and AMGL-NE called on the protection of farmers’ rights on land through the moratorium of foreclosure measures of Land Bank, cancellation of CLOAs, CLTs and EPs by DAR and passage of House Bill 374 or Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB).

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