Duterte gov’t urged to act on agrarian reform, food security
With an impending threat on national food security due to the decreasing number of farmers, more than than 100 farmer beneficiaries from 13 provinces in the country called on President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to act on agrarian reform issues during his first 100 days in office.
In a national conference dubbed Protecting Farmers’ Land Tenure and Ownership at the Claretian Seminary in Quezon City, 130 farmers and agrarian reform advocates listed their most urgent concerns like the installation of farmer beneficiaries to their lands and offered solutions to these problems.
The farmers came from various parts of the country like Masbate, Bacolod, Kidapawan, Surigao and Masbate.
“We believe that under the Duterte administration, farmers will be given voice,” read a statement of the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB) released Wednesday.
One of the major issues raised by the farmers was the problem in the installation of beneficiaries to the land which they should have owned by now. JJ Cordova, a representative from Panay-Negros region, said many farmers have been given certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) but they have yet to be installed to or possess the portion of land entitled to them.
“There is a problem in the issuance of the CLOA and the actual ownership of the land,” Cordova said adding that some of the problems are due to some local officials stopping the granting of these portions of land to the rightful owners because they have these leased and earn money from the land.
Mindanao representative Willerme Agorde added that some ARBs have been waiting to possess their lands for almost five years now. “We hope that the land will be granted to these farmers and communities because they have long waited for it,” Agorde added.
The group of farmers also said that heavy landowner resistance also prevent tillers from developing their land and earning from it.
Asked about the deadline they are giving the administration to address these issues, Cordova said they are hoping that the new leadership can provide solutions during Duterte’s first 100 days in office.
“We expect that all decisions of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) will favor the farmers,” Cordova added.
Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (Pakisama) representative Rene Serilla expressed confidence that Duterte will answer the call of the farmers through incoming DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano.
“Slowly, the number of farmers in the Philippines is decreasing because many young people are not encouraged to continue what their parents or relatives started,” Serilla said adding that the youth do not anymore realize the importance of farming.
He added that after the generation of farmers today, no one could replace them as farmers thus threatening national food security.
“There could come a time when we would need to import the food we will eat,” Serilla said.
If these problems will be properly addressed, Katarungan head Danny Caranza said many people will be encouraged to farm since he estimated that they can earn not only the average P20,000 earnings of farmers but could earn close to P100,000 from a 2-hectare coconut plantation.
“They will be entitled to this if they own the land,” Caranza added.
On Tuesday, the ARBs met with Mariano who vowed that all the decisions of DAR will benefit the farmers.
“We need to make sure that farmers will till their own lands,” Mariano said as he addressed the farmer beneficiaries on Tuesday.
He also said that he will visit provinces which encounter problems on land rights like Leyte, Isabela, Masbate, Iloi,o and Sultan Kudarat among others. CDG
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