[#DefendYuloFarmers] Stop land grabbing, harassment vs farmers of Hacienda Yulo

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) condemns the series of harassment done against farmers of Sitio Buntog in Hacienda Yulo, Calamba, Laguna. “Land grabbers have callously taken advantage of the pandemic and economic crisis to forcibly and illegally evict the farmers of Hacienda Yulo. The brazen violence and barbarity of the private armed goons are totally reprehensible. Ginawa pa nilang oportunidad para magpalayas ang paghihirap ngayon ng mga magsasaka!” KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos says.

The farmers of Hacienda Yulo in Canlubang, Laguna have suffered back to back atrocities done by armed men just as the year began. Last January 9, at least 30 men attacked farmer-resident Jojo De Leon. Three men pointed guns at him as others proceeded to smash the walls and windows of his house using sledgehammers. Some of the men fired at other residents present at the scene, wounding four. They were all threatened to leave or “suffer the consequences.” An earlier attack on January 6, just three days prior, targeted Mario Mangubat. His house was also destroyed by the same group of armed men who also threatened him at gunpoint.

There have been at least five attacks by hired goons against the farmers of Hacienda Yulo amid the pandemic. Last August 13, five months after the lockdown began, the same group destroyed farm lots, attempted to fence a portion, and threatened to use violence if the residents of Sitio Buntog “did not cooperate.” By August 22, they threatened at gunpoint the residents of Sitio Matang Tubig before returning five days after and burning three houses.

The goons were reportedly hired by San Cristobal Realty Corp, owned by the Yulo family, and Ayala Corporation which aims to build a commercial subdivision over the villages and its productive agricultural lands. Other parts of Hacienda Yulo have also been targeted for the extension of the Canlubang Golf Course and Country Club since at least 2010. 

Samahan ng Magsasakang Nagkakaisa sa Sitio Buntog (SAMANA Buntog), an organization of farmers in Hacienda Yulo and local chapter of KMP, have for decades defended and asserted their right to the lands they till and reside at. Most of the residents were direct descendants of farmers who began working on the land in 1910. “Mahigit isang siglo nang tuloy-tuloy na binubungkal ng mga angkan ng magsasaka ang lupaing iyan, paanong sasabihin ng mga Yulo at Ayala na walang silang karapatan sa lupa?” Ramos quips. 

Hacienda Yulo is a 7,100-hectare sugar estate in Laguna. It spans the cities of Calamba, Cabuyao, and Santa Rosa. 

Mayor Timmy Chipeco on January 12 promised to do something for the sake of the farmers. KMP urged Mayor Chipeco to swiftly act upon the matter and defend his constituents. “Public officials are duty-bound to stop such senseless violence. Napakaganid talaga nitong mga Yulo at Ayala, sa libo-libong ektaryang lupaing hawak na nila at bilyon-bilyong pisong meron na sila, marahas pang inaagawan ang mga magsasakang walang-wala na ngayong may pandemya,” Ramos ended. # 

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