Ormoc Farmers Start Harvesting After 16-Year Struggle
ORMOC CITY – Farmer Rosenda Apay could not hide her happiness as she and other farmer-beneficiaries started harvesting rice last week after having been deprived entry for 16 years to their awarded land under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Apay, 56, leader of the Bugho Farmers Association (BFA), was one of the 21 members who were successfully installed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in June 2016 to the 25-hectare lot within the Fran Farm in Barangay Matica-a in this city after several failed attempts. “Masaya kami dahil nakabalik na kami pagtrabaho sa aming lupa at ngayon nga ay nag-aani na,”said Apay. She said, they would be harvesting rice in the 25-hectare lot until the last week of October. Their initial harvest produced 60 cavans of rice.
According to Apay, to keep the land intact, she and the farmers have decided not to sub-divide the 25-hectare farmland covered under a collective certificate of land ownership award (CLOA) to prevent the sale of any portion of it by a member of their association. “What we are going to divide is the harvested rice,”Apay said. Rightful owners DAR Regional Director Shiela Enciso, said the members of the BFA were identified by the DAR in the late 90s to be the beneficiaries of lots 8667-47 and 8667-48 covering 46 hectares.
“When the CLOAs were registered in 1999 in the names of the BFA members, the Fran Farm Workers Association (FFWA) questioned in court as to who should be the rightful beneficiaries of those lots. The case dragged on for 16 years which resulted in animosity among them,” said Enciso.
During this period, BFA was deprived entry into the contested landholding. The case was resolved only when the BFA offered the 21-hectare lot to the rival group while retaining 25 hectares for themselves. This led to a compromise agreement in March this year.
Both farmer groups were finally installed to their respective farm lots on June 13 and started cultivating the farmland. Grateful farmers The farmers thanked the DAR and the non-government organization RIGHTS for fighting for their rights in the land. They also thanked the Philippine National Police for continuing to provide security in the area and maintaining the peace and order. Apay and FFWA member Medardo Cabahug, 59, admitted that their groups have already settled their differences. Meanwhile, Regional Director Sheila Enciso directed Assistant Regional Director Ismael Aya-ay to hasten the delivery of the necessary support services needed by these farmers. (Jose Alsmith L. Soria)
14 October 2016, http://www.dar.gov.ph