LUCENA CITY—Alma Rabena, 44, a longtime tenant of the vast Hacienda Matias in San Francisco, Quezon, in the province’s Bondoc Peninsula, said this year would be her most memorable Christmas as she received on Friday her certificate of land ownership award under the government’s agrarian reform program.
Samuel Solomero, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Quezon II officer in charge, said that aside from Rabena, 311 other tenants from Hacienda Matias also received their land titles in a simple ceremony at San Francisco municipal hall.
He said each land reform beneficiary received land but were allotted a maximum of 3 hectares from the 639-ha portion of the Matias estate.
On Thursday (Dec. 18), another 190 ha from the estate owned by Juanito Tan, also in San Francisco, were distributed to 102 tenants.
The Quezon farmers fought to have big tracts of lands in the Bondoc Peninsula area covered by the government’s agrarian reform program. In the course of their struggle, six farmer leaders were killed while some 400 criminal cases, mostly for theft of coconuts, had been filed against more than 300 tenants, records of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bondoc Peninsula (KMBP) showed.
Solomero said the DAR would distribute 2,317 ha in the Bondoc Peninsula towns of San Francisco, San Narciso, San Andres, Buenavista and Mulanay, which would benefit 1,481 farmers.
He said the DAR was committed to complete the land distribution until the end of the month while the agrarian reform beneficiaries would be formally installed in their farmland next month.
Maribel Luzara, KMBP president, said they would hold a special thanksgiving feast and Mass to celebrate the occasion. But she said the beneficiaries must be ready to defend their land as past experience showed that harassment from goons of displaced landowners follow the land distribution.
Jansept Geronimo, spokesperson for Kilusan para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan Quezon who also witnessed the land distribution ceremony, urged President Aquino to fully support the beneficiaries so they could be safe and keep their lands productive. Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon