Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) points to the landowning families of Yulo and Ayala as the masterminds behind the continued attacks faced by the farmers of Sitios Buntog and Matang Tubig in Hacienda Yulo, Calamba, Laguna. “The worsening situation of the Yulo farmers is directly rooted in the persistence of landlordism and absence of a genuine land reform program in the country. Landlords Yulo and Ayala seem to be unbound by the laws of the land and can exercise whatever act they see fit, however inhumane and brutal,” KMP Chairperson Danilo Ramos says.
At least five houses of farmers have been burned down by security guards from Seraph Security Agency, Inc., hired by Yulo-owned San Cristobal Realty Development Corporation and Ayala Land Inc. since the attacks escalated in August last year. Yesterday, January 24, the same security agency blocked relief goods from reaching the families of the displaced.
SAMANA-Buntog, an organization of farmers in Hacienda Yulo, insists that the violence is rooted in the land dispute between them, small farmers, and the combination of real estate giants Yulo and Ayala.
In a dialog held online last January 21 between the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and KASAMA-TK, regional chapter of KMP, the Laguna Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO) revealed that around 3,063 hectares of the total 7,100 hectares of Hacienda Yulo are already issued with exemption orders and are now under the names of various corporations. “The DAR is also complicit and accountable in this land case that led to the displacement of eviction of farmers,” says Ramos.
According to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Opinion No. 44, lands with exemption orders are exempted from land reform by virtue of not being agricultural in nature at the beginning of CARP’s (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program) implementation in June 1988.
Leo Mangubat of SAMANA-Buntog however reminded that they have filed an unanswered petition to revoke the exemption orders last December 2016. He insists that an ocular inspection of the area is then long overdue. DAR representatives however said that they were blocked from entering the property by the same Yulo-Ayala-hired goons. One official says that “muntik na nga kaming barilin” when they attempted entering the area last 2017. The PARO also received a letter from Ayala Land declaring DAR barred from entering Hacienda Yulo. “Is Ayala Land above the DAR? Are landlords above the law in this country? This is the problem when there is no genuine land reform program that is decidedly on the side of poor farmers, diyos-diyosan ang mga asyendero!” Ramos says.
Calamba Mayor Timmy Chipeco has also stayed silent and idle on the issue despite repeated pleas from his constituents.
Mangubat points out that Hacienda Yulo have been actually agriculturally productive for over a century. “Our ancestors began tilling these lands since the 1910 Taal volcano eruption. We are their direct descendants and we have continued planting fruits and vegetables here since then. Farmers have been here way before the DOJ opinion of 1990, the CARP of 1988, and the Yulo family’s claim which began only in 1948. Alam namin ang aming karapatan at ipaglalaban namin ito,” the peasant leader says.
KMP insists that the Hacienda Yulo case highlights the pressing need for genuine land reform which distributes lands to farmers for free and breaks up land monopoly. “We urgently need genuine land reform. Not just to protect farmers from the violence and duplicitous schemes of landlords, but also to ensure the self-sufficiency of our food supplies and other raw materials. Amid a pandemic and global slowdown of imports, we need land reform now,” Ramos ends. #