DAR accountable for killings, eviction and attacks against farmers – KMP

Farmers picketed the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to protest the agency’s sluggish action on land cases that resulted to unending damage to farmers. KMP said DAR is equally accountable on the gruesome killing of Norzagaray farmer Rommy Torres.

“Nakakagalit na wala man lang kaming narinig na anumang pahayag mula sa DAR. Kilala nila si Rommy Torres na pabalik-balik sa mga opisina ng DAR para magfollow-up sa kaso ng mga magsasaka sa Sitio Compra, Norzagaray,” says Cecilia Rapiz, leader of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan.

“We hold DAR accountable for Torres killing and the nonstop attacks against farmers — the demolition and burning of farmers’ houses, destruction of their farms and crops, and persistent threats of eviction and dispossession.”

“The hands of DAR Secretary John Castriciones are stained with the blood of Rommy Torres and hundreds of farmers who died fighting for their right to the land,” KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos said.

DAR’s perennial failure to distribute the land and to secure the rights of the farmers led to the situation of farmers being killed in their course of defending and fighting for their farms.

KMP said the likely culprits in the killing of Torres are goons and security guards hired by Royal Moluccan Realty Holdings Inc. (RMRHI), the landgrabber of the disputed 75.5-hectare agricultural land that sits adjacent to Villar-property Golden Haven in Norzagaray.

Torres was laid to rest this morning, days after he was found dead and stuffed in a plastic drum last February 5. He was reported missing after harvesting crops from his fenced farmlot guarded by Royal Moluccan goons.

No to CARP Coverage Expansion

KMP also lambasted DAR’s ridiculous move to include retirees in CARP’s beneficiaries.

“What power does DAR Secretary John Castriciones have to expand the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) to include DAR retirees? While farmers have been waiting for decades for the resolution of their land cases, Castriciones acts like a land custodian giving away land out of whim,” says Ramos. KMP said Castriciones is not legally allowed to order the expansion of CARP’s coverage.

This morning, at around 8AM, employees of the San Jose Del Monte City Hall, aided by MBB Security, and PNP Bulacan demolished four houses in Purok 4, Barangay Paradise 3, San Jose Del Monte City. Among the farmers affected was Ine Sayco, leader of SIKHAY, a local association Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan.

In 2015, the Department of Agrarian Reform issued a Notice of Coverage for the 15-hectare land occupied by three families, including Sayco’s. However, in 2020 the DAR Bulacan Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Engr. Emmanuel Aguinaldo reversed all decisions that are favorable to farmers. DAR’s Aguinaldo instructed the farmers to vacate the said land and disallowed them to file for any motion for reconsideration.

Farmers will launch more protests against DAR in the next weeks. #

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