May 21, 2010
CALAMBA CITY – Hunderds of farmers were injured, several handcuffed while two are being held at the local police station after tensions broke at around 8:30am today in Sitio Buntog, Brgy. Canlubang over the disputed Hacienda Yulo land.
The farmers were manning their protest-campout near the sitio’s main road entrance when land surveyors led by Dan Calvo, an architect connected to the Yulo owned Laguna Estate Development Corp. and San Cristobal Realty Corp., arrived along with not less than 50 combined members of the SWAT, the local and regional PNP, and private security guards.
Axel Pinpin, ex-political detainee and sec. gen. of the peasant group KASAMA-TK/KMP, who was at the scene said Calvo approached the farmers and told them to leave. “He was very hostile and was cursing the farmers. He refused to negotiate with us. The farmers presented legal documents but Calvo tore-up the papers. The farmers refused to leave and that’s when the police and security guards started using force.”
Two of the farmers, Gilbert Caraan and Mario Manggubat were taken by the PNP to the local police station. Hundreds, including women and children were injured. Around 10 are still handcuffed as of presstime including 2 staff members of KASAMA-TK.
According to Pinpin, the local farmers have put-up the protest-campout last April 7 to stop any attempts by the Yulos to enforce the conversion of the more than 7,000 hectare hacienda land into a high-end subdivision. He said the farmers have a pending appeal in court against the land conversion.
According to Eric Laurel, leader of the local peasant organization Samahan ng mga Mamamayan ng Buntog, their land, despite being productive, has been approved for land conversion under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
“We have a productive coconut plantation here. Our livelihood will be lost and our lives will be at stake if the conversion pushes through,” Laurel said.
Sitio Buntog is home to about 400 families and makes up around 5-7% of the Hacienda Yulo.
Pinpin meanwhile slammed the existing argrarian reform laws saying the dispute over Hacienda Yulo is among the many examples of the true pro-landlord nature of CARP and CARPer (CARP with extension and reforms).
“Land reform is a key issue that we think will only end-up in the trash bins of the incoming administration. Sen. Noynoy, a member of the Aquino-Cojunaco landlord clan, and others in the Liberal Party, including Akbayan representative and senatorial bet Risa Hontiveros is among the promoters and architects of the CARPer law, how can we expect anything pro-farmer from them? But Noynoy can prove us wrong if on his first day in Malacañang he will make history by distributing lands to the farmers including their own Hacienda Luisita,” Pinpin said.
As of press time, the farmers are massing-up at the campout to continue their protest.