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16 farmers on hunger strike in QC collapse

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Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes said he had no immediate plans of meeting with the protesters. “They do not want to meet me. They just want me to resign,” he said

At least 16 farmers have collapsed since a militant group began a hunger strike on Monday to press demands for the ouster of Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes for allegedly failing to carry out commitments made to them personally by President Aquino six months ago, organizers said Wednesday.

Since Monday, 56 farmers, mostly members of Task Force Mapalad (TFM) based in Negros Occidental province, have holed up on the fourth floor of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) building, where Delos Reyes holds office, to demand his ouster or resignation.

They staged the hunger strike to dramatize the plight of the farmers, who  secured a pledge from Mr. Aquino to speed up the acquisition and distribution of land, the issuance of notices of coverage on landholdings 25 hectares and lower, and the release of P1 billion in loan assistance to agrarian reform beneficiaries.

But after six months, TFM leaders said they were dissatisfied with how Delos Reyes, who was tasked to see through Mr. Aquino’s promise, was keeping the DAR chief’s end of that pledge. Delos Reyes, they said, is the worst-performing agrarian secretary in all administrations.

TFM deputy national coordinator Lanie Factor said her group wanted Mr. Aquino to take over the reins of the DAR himself.

She said the striking farmers were not there to seek a dialogue with Delos Reyes, but to try to get Mr. Aquino’s attention and to appeal to him to listen to their demands.

“We’re no longer interested in hearing what Secretary Delos Reyes has to say. We know what he will say even before he says it,” Factor told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Delos Reyes, in an earlier interview, said he had no immediate plans of meeting with the protesters. “They do not want to meet me. They just want me to resign,” he said.

In the meantime, he said, communication lines will remain open for a negotiation with the protesters “provided they do not turn violent and destroy property.”

Weak and inefficient

TFM president Alberto Jayme, in a statement, said the hunger strike would continue indefinitely until Mr. Aquino responded to the appeal.

He sought the removal of “all bottlenecks in the completion of Carper (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program extension with reforms), including the weak and inefficient leadership of Secretary Delos Reyes.”

Nearly 1 million hectares remain to be distributed under the program, which was launched by the President’s mother, the democracy icon Corazon Aquino, in 1988.

On the third day of the hunger strike, nine farmers were rushed to hospital due to weakness and difficulty in breathing, bringing to 12 the number of the hospitalized, Factor said. She said the protesters were taking only water.

TFM identified them as Marlyn Diaz, 53; Adelita Tranghia, 54; Anthony Tranghia, 23; Velmora Segura, 40; Ryan Hechanova, 26; Gaspar Pancho, 44; Rommel Ramila, 35; Julius Landeza, 26; and Mario Espanola, 32.

The day before, the following were also hospitalized after experiencing chest pains and fainting: Dorita Vargas, 63; Aileen Suspene, 35; Marlyn Gordon, 50; Regino Quizada, 41; Mark Balderas, 24; Joel Pertes, 46; and Monico Alonsabi, 60, TFM said.

A personal promise

One of those who became ill, Dorita Vargas received in June a personal promise from Mr. Aquino that she would receive a certificate of landownership award for Hacienda Canticbil Manalo before year’s end. But the case is still far from being resolved, TFM said.

The farmers said that out of the original aim of distributing 260,000 ha of land for 2012, Delos Reyes lowered the DAR’s target to 180,000 ha.

But “out of this target, only 49,349 hectares of land have been distributed as of Dec. 13,” the group said, citing DAR records.

Delos Reyes, however, said he expected the DAR to have covered between 140,000 and 160,000 ha of land by the end of 2012.

In June 1988,  President Corazon Aquino enacted the program as the centerpiece of a social justice promise to lift  Filipinos from poverty and remove one of the major causes of a simmering communist insurgency.

But due to concerns about the DAR’s low land distribution output, a bill had been filed in the House of Representatives to extend the Carp by another five years. Delos Reyes said he welcomed the proposal but did not think it was necessary.


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Tags: agrarian reform , DAR , Government , Hunger Strike , Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes


  • EdgarEdgar

    Militant farmers? If so, none of the farmers were seen brandishing weapons or making threats to life or limb of anyone. Unfortunately for those farmers, Virgilio delos Reyes is friendly to the interest of hacienderos. He could almost overlook the inclusion of Cojuanco horse caretakers in the list of land redistribution beneficiaries until this was exposed by the Luisita farmers themselves.

    • ApoLapullapu

      CARP will not affect those whose owners are allied to the people in power..  How can the haciendas be distributed to the farmers when the owners were among those who put the present Administration in power?  Better repeal the CARP.  It is not intended to succeed.  It is only used to calm down the farmers who had gradually joined the insurgency.  In Negros, even an Army General who saw the plight of the poor farmers was accused of joining the insurgents.

  • UrHONOR

    MATUNOG-ba-matunog na balita sa kanto namin na yong mga CBCP bisyaps dawa ay mag-hu-hunger strike din sa Shangrila Hotel.  ”Kalokohan!” sabi ko.  Pero sabi nila, naghahanda na daw yong mga staff ng mga CBCP members at secretariat para sa nasabing hunger strike.  Ha ha ha….sabi ko ibang hunger strike yon…they will strike hunger by sabsabing in a hotel resto.  Putris, de driver at mga de campanilyang mga aides at assistants, mag-hu-hunger strike?  Malipasan lang ng isang merienda ang mga TNL na yan, e, tiyak yon, St Luke’s ang bagsak!

    • ApoLapullapu

      Do not divert the Agrarian problem to the RH Bill.

      • UrHONOR

        The topic is about farmers on HUNGER strike.  Where did you see the RH bill mentioned in the post?  Watch that trigger-happy finger!

        Further, post and let post.  Don’t focus your attention to posters…pay attention to the topic.

      • ApoLapullapu

        I can see by your arrogance that you are a tool of those in power. You dragged the bishops into the farmers’ strike for what reason?  Because the bishops are against the RH Bill, if you drag them into the farmers’ strike, the activity will automatically lost the support of those in favor of the RH Bill.  You think that no one can see the connection and the manipulation?  You are not even sure if your information regarding the bishops strike is true.  

      • UrHONOR

        I can see by your IGNORANCE you’re not worth a hoot.

      • demonYOU

         Kamukha mo pala eto government official na ito na parang bading….TSUPAeng din pala ito na katulad mo at kaya ganun na lang ang pagkampi mo…..sige mag contest nga kayo kung sino una makapag palabas……palitan mo na lang yung alias mo ng TSUPAeng!

      • ApoLapullapu

        I may be ignorant like what you think but I am not a fool that you can fool.  Pawala ka ng mga haciendero. 

  • $53950194

    miresi

    • JuanTamadachi

      ??

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GG4T5UNZ3P7SCHSRNJ7PF5JZMM Jimmy

    Pauwiin ninyo yang mga yan….!!! Wala silang karapatang manggulo sa mga ahensiya ng gobyerno at magdikta sa mga pinunong bayan…!!!!!

    • JuanTamadachi

      well said.

  • disqusted0fu

    poor farmers! when will they realize that this administration does not care about them?! what promise has Aquino fulfilled so far?! its sad, but they may have to wait and see who the next president will be, and hope that the next one would be sincere in his/her care for them and for the rest of the Filipino people.



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