Farmers in danger of losing lands seek help
LUCENA CITY, Philippines—Wanting to save their land as Christmas nears, farmers from nearby Sariaya town appealed for help from local officials for a new zoning ordinance that would classify their lands as agricultural.
In a letter in Filipino written on a piece of pad paper, farmers pleaded to the local executives to help speed the process of the titling of lands.
The Ugnayan ng Magsasaka sa Gitnang Quezon (Ugnayan) made this appeal in one part of the letter, which was addressed to Sariaya Vice Mayor Medina Caringal and members of the Sangguniang Bayan, and dated Oct. 16.
A scanned copy of the letter, which bore the signature of the town council secretary to indicate receipt, was obtained by Inquirer.
The farmers appealing for the new zoning ordinance said they hoped to get their wish as a Christmas gift.
Romeo Clavo, Ugnayan head, said his group wrote the letter in Filipino and a sheet of elementary pad paper because the group wanted to emphasize that the senders are “poor, semi-illiterate and illiterate” farmers.
“We could have requested one of our children to compose the letter in elegant English and computerize it. But if we did that, it is not us speaking from our heart,” Clavo said over the phone on Wednesday.
Clavo said in a meeting with Medina, the vice mayor promised to discuss the farmers’ case in a session of the council today.
On May 28, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. rejected the appeal of six Ugnayan members, all recipients of Certificate of Land Ownership Award (Cloa) in Barangay Sampaloc II, to retain the agricultural classification of the 10 hectares of land that were awarded to them under the government’s agrarian reform program.
One of the six farmers who were dispossessed of the farm lands died from depression.
Ochoa concurred with an earlier ruling by the Department of Agrarian Reform to return the land to a private individual based on a municipal zoning ordinance in 1982, saying the land is an “industrial site.”
With the Malacañang decision, 255 other Cloa holders tilling more than 500 ha of land in at least five villages in Sariaya face the same fate.
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