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Picketing farmers dragged out of LRA

By Nancy C. Carvajal, Alcuin Papa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:59:00 11/28/2008

Filed Under: Agrarian Reform, Local authorities, Protest

MANILA, Philippines ? Police Thursday bodily carried out 28 farmers from Negros Occidental who picketed and occupied the lobby of the Land Registration Office in Quezon City Wednesday.

Supt. Ferdinand Ampil, commander of the Quezon City Police District Station 10, said the farmers would be charged with ?illegal assembly for occupying a public property establishment.?

The eight women and 20 men were detained at Police Station 10 in Kamuning and would be subjected to inquest proceedings, Ampil said.

Ampil said they had given the farmers enough time to leave the LRA premises but they resisted.

?Since Wednesday evening we asked them to leave the LRA premises as they were hampering the services of the office,? Ampil told the Inquirer.

He explained they had to carry the farmers out of the LRA building after two negotiations for them to disperse peacefully bogged down at around 9:30 a.m.

Two of the farmers were handcuffed during the dispersal and were loaded to a waiting air-conditioned bus and brought to the police station in Kamuning.

He added that the request to disperse the farmers came from the Quezon City Police District Director Senior Supt. Magtanggol Gatdula.

According to Jose Rodito Angeles, who acted as the leader of the group, they decided to camp out at the LRA office on Wednesday evening because the LRA officials refused to see them.

He also said no one among his group was hurt in the dispersal.

Seeking a dialogue

Angeles said they had been going to the LRA office daily for the past three weeks seeking a dialogue with Administrator Benedicto Ulep.

?We had no choice but to hold a rally because no one wanted to talk to us and we were given the runaround,? Angeles said in Filipino.

Angeles said they arrived in Manila on Nov. 8 and had been camping out at the Department of Agriculture grounds also in Quezon City.

He explained they are here to ask for the assistance of the LRA administrator to order Negros Occidental Regional Director Ramon Gonzaga to transfer the titles of at least 139 ha of land including the Hacienda Bacan owned by the family of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, to them as ?farmer beneficiaries.?

?We have been fighting for this for seven years and this was promised to us by President Gloria Arroyo,? he added.

President?s assurance

He said President Arroyo had already given a public assurance that Hacienda Bacan would be distributed under the CARP last July.

But the farmers have been blaming Mike Arroyo for the failure of land reform in the island and the growing restiveness of the farmers.

Pastor Emmanuel Alano, convener and spokesperson of the Bacolod City-based multi-sector group Negros CARP Reform Movement (NCRM) also said Mike Arroyo ?is becoming the symbol of landowner resistance to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.?

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