Quezon farmers push final leg of protest march to SC
LUCENA CITY—Only 140 of the 200 farmers who began a protest march in Quezon province have remained to pursue the last leg of the 122-kilometer trek to the Supreme Court compound in Manila after their companions complained of exhaustion due to the intense summer heat.
Relatives have replaced those who dropped out, said Jansepth Geronimo, spokesperson of Kilusan para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan.
The farmers, mostly from Sariaya town, will deliver to the Supreme Court a letter of appeal asking for the return of at least P70 billion in coconut levy funds, money that they said were forcibly collected from coconut farmers during the administration of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
They are also seeking the high tribunal’s help to stop the revocation of land titles already given by the government to local farmers as part of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
A delegation of farmers from Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bondoc Peninsula in Quezon’s Bondoc Peninsula district also joined the march.
Hundreds of land reform beneficiaries in San Francisco town in Quezon are waging a legal battle to compel the Department of Agrarian Reform and a landlord there to implement the government’s agrarian reform program.
Close to 100 farmers are expected to join the final stretch of the march today from the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran, Parañaque City, to the Supreme Court.
Four already returned home to Quezon because of their worsening health conditions. “The rest are still with us. They would occasionally walk and ride our service vehicles to rest,” Geronimo said.
He thanked members of Sanlakas and Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, who provided them food, and Catholic churches along the route, from Sariaya to Metro Manila, which gave them places to rest and sleep.
“The benevolence of the Church, solidarity of several groups and gestures of sympathy from ordinary people who provided us with cold water and food—these served as moral boosters for farmers to finish the march,” Geronimo said.
Most marchers complained of body pains, fever, cough and colds at the end of the day’s hike. Several health workers were monitoring the condition of the farmers.
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