Fajardo Estate Land Dispute: A happy ending for the Banasi Farmers who marched to Malacanang

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The fifty-seven (57) farmers from the Fajardo Estate in Bicol who walked for 17 days to Malacanang Palace to plead their case finally got their wish. The tillers of the 123-hectare land in Banasi, Bula, Camarines Sur had the order of Sec. Eduardo Ermita canceling their land titles recinded on December 19, 2008. The happy farmers now have the right to use the land, ending 35 years of round-about with the law.

“This is the happiest Christmas of my life. We have already sacrificed a lot and we hope that with the decision of DAR we could finally rest our case and experience security in the lands that we till,” said Jess Bergantin, president of the Banasi Agrarian Reform Farmer-Beneficiaries Association (BARFA) who were among those who walked the 444-kilometer stretch from Camarines Sur to Manila.. “—Bicol Mail (12/ 25/08, Escandor, J, Jr)

According to Atty Arlene Bag-ao, one of the supporters of the farmers, the march to Malacanang could have been avoided if the case was handled as is—-a simple legal issue that favors the agriculture workers to own the disputed land. Some of the farmers said they walked to Manila because a known Malacanang insider, Atty Manny Gaite with family ties with the Fajardos, worked against their favor by helping void their land title.

“Elaine Teope, campaign coordinator of BARFA, revealed that among those who drafted the order that cancelled the Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (Cloas) of the farmers-beneficiaries was Lawyer Manny Gaite, the guy from the Office of the President who figured in the Senate hearing regarding the P500,000 distributed to local government executives early this year. “—Bicol Mail (12/ 25/08, Escandor, J, Jr)

The success of the Banasi farmers signals the growing awareness and activism of many agricultural workers in the Philippines. With problems delaying the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP,) more land decisions by the government are likely to be contested by farmers and their militant supporters. (Photo Credits: Pakisamagallery) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Camarines Sur farmer’s 444 kilometer march to Malacanang” Posted by mesiamd at 12/02/2008

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