Defying Power For Humanity’s Good

Sustainable Agriculture Rice Farming Community to Defy Eviction
By Ilang-Ilang D. Quijano
Apr 5, 2007, 15:13

Note from “Firefly” – Unbelievable but true! These organic farmers in Bukidnon, Philippines are being EVICTED by a state owned university so the rice planted land can be leased to a CORPORATION to promote chemicalized farming!!!

ORGANIC farmers need the support of all human beings who are against the toxic chemicalized environment that PROFIT DRIVEN corporations are fast tracking into this globalized world.

Firefly
Tawo Seed Carrier
POB 1456
South Pasadena, CA 91031

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE RICE FARMING COMMUNITY TO DEFY EVICTION
By Ilang-Ilang D. Quijano

Only defiance will turn these rice fields gold.

A rice farming community in the province of Bukidnon, Southern Philippines is once again facing eviction from a 400-hectare land they have long struggled to till. But now they have more to lose than 20 years ago, when a state-owned university first tried, unsuccessfully, to take away their land.

Six hundred farming families in the municipality of Magalang do not simply cultivate rice fields: they are in control of a thriving sustainable agriculture (SA) farm and a community seedbank with hundreds of traditional rice varieties (TRVs) that have disappeared elsewhere in the country.

Yet the significance of this courageous leap from chemical-dependent rice farming to SA is lost on the Central Mindanao University (CMU), which wants to lease the land to big agri-businesses.

Harassment comeback

Last March 28, more than 20 security agents of CMU, at gunpoint, prevented farmers from working the fields. They confiscated several farming tools and machines, including a small tractor.

“CMU’s harassment is making a comeback. But we have already made a decision. We will not leave our lands. If we do not plant rice, what will our families eat?” said Jun Macote, chairperson of Buffalo-Tamaraw-Limus (BLT), a farmers association affiliated with Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) or Peasant Movement of the Philippines.

Macote came to Manila to participate in Pesticide Action Network’s Week of Rice Action culmination events and to relate to other farmers and the international community their community’s SA practice and current land problem.

Failed land reform program

The BLT farmers experience is a classic case of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program’s (CARP) failure to redistribute land to poor farmers and wrest it from the control of landlords and agri-businesses.

In 1987, the farmers, mostly former CMU employees, were awarded Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). The CLOAs were issued under CARP, implemented by former president Corazon Aquino after the People Power uprising that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

The CMU brought the case to the Court of Appeals in 1991, and lost. It elevated the case to the Supreme Court, which in 1992 overturned the lower court’s decision and ruled in favor of CMU on the grounds that land use “for educational purposes” were among CARP’s many exemptions. The farmers’ CLOAs were subsequently revoked.

But the farmers defied the Supreme Court and refused to vacate the land and asserted their rights through collective and militant struggle, even when these led to direct confrontations with CMU’s security agents.

In 2001, the Congressional Committee on Agrarian Reform visited the community to help settle the land dispute. The committee declared it a “stable area” and saw no reason to take the land away from the farmers.

After a year of negotiations, CMU and the BLT farmers signed a Memorandum of Agreement on a five-year lease of the land. The said lease expired last March 10, 2001.

Read the rest here.

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