SJDM farmers hit LGU for bulldozing farm, crops

There is no let-up on the attacks against farmers. Yesterday, January 16, hundreds of crop-bearing trees were destroyed and flattened using a backhoe by members of the San Jose Del Monte City Public Order and Safety Office (SJDM-POSO) upon the instructions of a certain Obet Robes, believed to be related to SJDM Mayor Arthur Robes.  

An estimate of 2.7-hectares of farmland tilled by the Ajose family in Sitio Dalandanan, Barangay Tungkong Mangga in San Jose Del Monte City was bulldozed, destroying crops including banana trees, pineapples, root crops, and eggplants.

According to the Samahan ng mga magsasaka sa Dalandanan (SAMAGDA), a local affiliate of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan-KMP, the SJDM City Hall POSO employees went to the farmland presenting a canceled Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) and insisted that the farmers vacate the land. The Ajose family said the POSO employees did not have any writ of execution or court order for the bulldozing of the farmland. The destruction of the crops was said to be permitted by Mayor Arthur Robes, invoking his rights as the Mayor based on RA 8797 that converted SJDM as a component city.  

Jhulian Ajose, whose parents started tilling the parcel of land in the 1990s, lamented the destruction of their crops. “Bakit nyo kami pinaalis sa tinataniman naming lupa? Dito lang kami kumukuha ng kinabubuhay at pagkain namin, ng pangpaaral. Sa lupa na ito dito kami umaasa. Ektaryang pananim ang sinira nyo! Hindi ninyo alam kung gaano ang hirap ng mga magulang namin. Sa bawat pagpapagal, sa bawat patak ng dugo at pawis, sa bawat sugat na tinatamo sa pagbubungkal at pagtatanim sa lupa na ito. Wala kayong awa sa mga katulad namin.”

Barangay Tungkong Mangga, one of the few remaining agricultural villages in SJDM is also the targeted location of the MRT-7 depot and train station. Vast productive agricultural land on the area’s sloping rolling hills are tilled and inhabited for decades by local farmers.  

Land grabbing and land-use conversion are prevalent in SJDM, among the prime targets of land developers and real estate corporations such as the Villar family-owned Vista Land and Landscapes Inc. The city is being developed by the local government as a “New Super City” and Metro Manila’s gateway to Central Luzon. Big real estate corporations have strategic and big-ticket investments and projects in SJDM.

The controversial MRT-7 Project is the focal point of SJDM farmers’ campaign and resistance against land grabbing and displacement where more than a thousand farming families are threatened to be affected. Once completed, the MRT-7 project will wipe out 588 hectares of agricultural lands in Tungkong Mangga village, 311 hectares in Sitio San Isidro, more than 84 hectares in Sitio Ricafort, and more than 70 hectares in Sitio Dalandanan. These said productive lands are tilled and occupied by more than 300 farming families. #

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