Palace-bound farmers drop by Cebu
About 55 of the 100 farmers who walked from Malaybalay, Bukidnon province to Cagayan de Oro made a brief stopover in Cebu City yesterday en route to Manila for a dialogue with Palace officials on the government’a agrarian reform program.
“While the program expires on June 2014, we are afraid that we may not be given attention because it’s elections next year. We hope the government will expedite or extend the program,” said Dagohoy Magaway, Task Force Mapalad leader.
According to its website, Task Force Mapalad is a national federation of farmers and persons working for agrarian reform and rural development.
It boasts of 25,000 members in nine provinces across the country.
The Farmers’ Walk for Implementation of Agrarian Reform started last June 1.
Task Force Mapalad Mindanao Coordinator Joseph Coles said they walked at dawn and ended in the Freedom Park of Cagayan de Oro that same day.
Magaway recounted to reporters that the 55 farmers boarded a Super Ferry 12 vessel to Cebu City for a brief stopover before their Manila trip.
Since they didn’t have money for their fare, the 45 other farmers agreed to stay behind.
On their arrival at Cebu, the Cebu Port Authority Security Group noticed that the farmers brought placards and tents and asked them what it was for.
“When they told us that it was for an activity in Manila, we politely asked them that if they had set up an activity in Cebu, they have to set it up outside the pier so they won’t bother the passengers,” said Cpl. Malinche Tisado of the Navy.
Magaway said their group is scheduled to arrive in Manila this afternoon where they will march to Sta. Rosa, Laguna and meet 700 farmer contingents from the Visayas and Luzon.
From Laguna, the group would head to Malacañang for their June 8 dialog with President Benigno Aquino III.
But with the President out of the country, Palace officials led by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad will meet them instead.
Magaway said some bishops supportive of their cause helped arranged their meeting with the president.
“We ask the public to support us farmers and ask the government’s support and sincerity in addressing agrarian reform,” he told reporters yesterday.
Unless the root causes of land disputes are resolved, Magaway said violence will continue to ensue between landowners and farmers.
He said about 400,000 out of the 100 million hectares of land to be distributed to farmers are located in Mindanao. With reports from Correspondent Jessa Chrisna Marie Ague and Inquirer
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