Rethinking Society Over a Cup of Coffee

march 29 lupang hinirang lupang hinarang citizens' signature campaign for CARPER updates

by Atty. Kaka J. Bag-ao

Sumilao Farmer Speaks Before Large JIL Crowd in Araneta

The farmers participated in the launching of “Bagong Pilipinas, Bagong Pilipino” Movement last March 28, 2009 at the Araneta Coliseum which was filled by thousands of JIL followers. The movement was a reinvention of Bangon Pilipinas Party, the political party of Jesus is Lord (JIL) evangelist Eduardo “Brother Eddie” Villanueva during the 2004 elections.

Further, the farmers also took part in the symbolic sending of Brother Eddie to the stage where representatives of multi-sectoral groups walked with him towards the stage. One of the farmers, Yoyong Merida from Sumilao, was also given an opportunity to address the huge JIL crowd and gave a brief talk on the cause of the farmers and their present campaign for the enactment of the pending bill in Congress to extend and reform CARP. The huge crowd welcomed and applauded the farmers’ presence and participation in the launch of the movement.

The organizers of the event also coordinated the signature campaign for CARPER initiated by the farmers among those who participated in the movement. The organizers also promised that the movement’s support for the farmers does not end at the Araneta event, but they will continue helping out the farmers in their signature campaign in their several local churches. It is to be remembered that Brother Eddie and the JIL movement has actively shown support to the farmers and for the passage of the CARPER Bill in Congress.

During the launch of the movement, Brother Eddie offered a seven-point roadmap for national recovery. Aside from the farmers, several personalities also spoke before the crowd to support the Bagong Pilipinas, Bagong Pilipino Movement. Among them were Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Leah Navarro, Josie Lichauco, Roy Seneres, Perfecto Yasay and Mayor Jonjon Villanueva. Special numbers were also given by Gary Granada and Noel Cabangon.

Farmers from Sumilao, Banasi and Calatagan who stayed in Manila are asking the public to join the CARPER campaign, as national development is founded on solid building blocks like agricultural development. Giving the farmers land to till enhances their opportunities for better income. Increased income for the rural poor results in an improved economy. An improved economy means a better country. Agrarian reform means economic development and food security not just for the farmers but also for all citizens in the country.

The farmers are also asking the public to join them in a March to Congress to bring the citizens’ petition for CARPER bearing 1 Million signatures. The march to Congress is scheduled to be held upon Congress’s resumption of session on April 13, 2009.

If you want to help gather signatures and schedule a screening of Lupang Hinarang, a film made by Ditsi Carolino (the filmmaker who made Bunso and Minsan Lang Sila Bata), please contact the following for details and information:

Kaka Bag-ao:
Jane Capacio:
Mally Gargar (BALAOD): 09224456384; 09177171879
Reggie Aquino/Junard Devila (KAISAHAN): 4330760
You may also visit the site for updates

CARPER Signature Campaign & Congress Watch

As of today, the farmers were able to gather 45,495 signatures in support of CARP Extension with Reforms and have become more emboldened in their quest for social justice as more and more individual citizens and sectors walk with them in their struggle.

As of today, 11 Senators are CARPER advocates and assured the bishops that they will help ensure that a new CARP law will be enacted, with compulsory acquisition restored, and with at least P147 billion budgetary allocation, to wit, Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, Sen. Gringo Honasan, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, Sen. Richard Gordon, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Sen. Ping Lacson, Sen. Pong Biazon, Sen. Nene Pimentel, Sen. Mar Roxas, and Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri.

As of today, 97 representatives have signified their support for the cause of the farmers and pushed for the adherence to the Constitutional mandate of undertaking and completion of an effective agrarian reform program in the country. The latest additions are Representatives Art Defensor of Iloilo, Dan Fernandez of Laguna, and Candido Pancrudo of Bukidnon:

A Letter from Lilian De Vera

(I got this from my email)

Two months ago I considered myself as one of those blessed and happiest people on earth. Why not? I married a guy who was an epitome of kindness. A guy who worshipped even the footsteps I made. More importantly, our union blessed us with a daughter who not only became the main source of our happiness….more so; she was the center of our lives.

We're simple folks who led a simple life. We felt the happiest even about mundane things and inconsequential ones that most people would only take for granted. Our joy mostly revolved on simple pleasures like a sudden trip to Jollibee or a late night marauding of the fridge for any leftovers. A perfect family with simple delights, dreams and aspirations………until that fateful night on December 5, 2008.The day my husband and daughter were taken away from me in a very violent way. That Friday night on December 5, 2008 marked the beginning of all the terror, anguish and misery in my life.

In keeping with my ritual or "panata" on every first Friday of every month, I went to Quiapo Church on the above mentioned date to pay homage and respect to the Almighty One. My husband and daughter were supposed to pick me up in Pasay City after which we planned on giving our daughter a treat to Jollibee. While riding the jeep, I tried to call my husband to tell him that I was on my way to our meeting place. But despite all the calls I made, my husband remained silent. A very unusual occurrence inasmuch as he seldom missed my calls. Despite my trepidation and wonder, I took the next jeep going home and prayed that everything was alright. I even promised to myself that I would forgive my husband for not answering my calls and for forgetting to pick me up.

I felt relieved when near our place my phone rung. Such relief was somehow only momentary….in fact the phone call I got was the bearer of the worst news in my entire life. My helper called, only to tell me that my husband and daughter were shot to death by "men in uniform". The same men who were sworned to protect innocent people from bad guys brutally slew the two most important persons in my life. They were the same men whose sacred duty was to preserve the lives of the public against all harm and danger. Yet…….they were the same men who murdered my love ones in the most cruel, savage and inhuman way.

My husband's face was unrecognizable because he was shot in the head at close range while he was kneeling with his head bowed down. My daughter's young body was riddled with bullets, one hit her head, blowing her brains out.., all from too powerful guns and ammunitions fired by the "men in uniform" on two innocent and defenseless persons.

The "men in uniform" were allegedly on a mission to take some gang of robbers victimizing people at large. The police shot the crosswind van my husband and daughter were riding Based on some witnesses' narration, the police sprayed bullets into the van despite the lack of provocation or shots coming from the van. In his last effort to save their lives, my husband grabbed my bloodied daughter and shielded her with his body while trying to run away from the police and tried to get cover from a parked jeepney My husband and daughter were so defenseless. How can you mistake a child for a robber? How can you shot at someone who was already kneeling with head bowed, an indication of helplessness.

My husband and daughter are gone…….forever. The pain I feel for their lost is too much too bear. And the only thing that motivates me to go on with life is the mission to seek justice for their senseless killing. If the people who are responsible for their death will be punished, if I could bring them the justice they so richly deserve, my pain would be alleviated. The misery I will live by will be lessened. My husband and daughter will be vindicated and I will learn to live the remaining years of my life in peace..

Thus: I'm asking and begging everyone who will come across this letter/e-mail to forward the same to all your relatives, friends, and acquaintances. . Help me bring my cause to the eyes of the people capable of steering the wheel of justice to the right direction. Help me make the loudest cry worthy of attention by those people in-charge in rendering justice to those who deserve it.

Strength comes in numbers; it is where the impossible becomes possible. It is also where the unattainable becomes achievable.

My heartfelt gratitude for everyone who will take a moment in their too busy lives and forward this letter/e-mail to everyone they know. May God always protect you and your love ones from all harm.

Lilian De Vera



Independent senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan today urges fellow lawmakers to fast track the passing of the extension together with reforms in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

Pangilinan stresses the need for said reforms in CARP to be passed as soon as possible to avoid disillusionment of farmers with the government.

"The key issue here is the exclusion of the compulsory acquisition and distribution of private agricultural lands to farmer tenants," Pangilinan says. "Without this key component, the CARP is practically ineffective as an agrarian reform program."

The program expired last December, 2008 after 10 years of implementation. According to Father Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila, there are still around 1.2 million hectares of private agricultural land up for distribution. The farmers asked for a five year extension. The Senate and House of Representatives instead compromised for a six-month extension without the compulsory acquisition and distribution of private lands. In this extension, only those properties voluntarily offered are being processed.

While land redistribution is a major concern, Pangilinan stresses that support services will play a vital role in delivering CARP's promise in uplifting economic capacities of farmers in the country. "It is time to shift the focus to the support of government agencies such as Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industries, and Department of Agrarian Reform in this program," Pangilinan says.

"CARP is much more than just redistribution of lands. Government agencies should work hand in hand with CARP in helping out farmers. The rights of the land owners must also be respected. They should be paid promptly and fairly, pursuant to the Constitution and laws. Agrarian reform done properly addresses both concerns of poverty reduction and economic development."

(Got this from Atty. Kaka J. Bag-ao)

13 March lupang hinirang lupang hinarang update

by Atty. Kaka J. Bag-ao

CARPER PILGRIMAGE CAMPAIGN BACK IN MINDANAW, others stay in Manila to continue signature campaign for CARPER

The 48 pilgrim-farmers headed by the Sumilao Farmers with other farmers from Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur and Davao del Sur who participated in the Lupang Hinirang, Lupang Hinarang, A Famers’ Pilgrimage for CARPER, arrived in Cagayan de Oro City at 5:00 in the morning boarding Super Ferry.

“We left Manila not to abandon the CARPER campaign but instead to provide stronger and more consolidated support from our hometown,” said Berhilda San-ahan, one of the Sumilao Farmers. She added that the support from other sectors like the local government units and other groups will be solicited as well.

Alvin Tumarong from Don Carlos, Bukidnon, Nelson Nullas from Agusan del Sur and Numeriano Gabutero from Davao del Sur reaffirmed their commitment to the campaign and said that the same efforts will be initiated in their respective provinces.

It is to be recalled that the campaign started in Sumilao, Bukidnon last 12 February 2009. In their journey to Manila, the farmers passed by parishes, schools and dioceses and held education forums, press briefings and had signature drive to support for the enactment of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Extension and (genuine) Reforms.

The campaign was likewise triggered by the irresponsible and malicious Congressional act in passing Joint Resolution 19 that effectively halts the transfer of private agricultural lands to the farmers. The JR 19 was passed despite the efforts of farmers, academe, non-government organizations and the Church to call for the passage of CARPER.

As the Congress went in recess, the farmers will not stop in calling legislators’ attention to uphold their constitutional duty to enact a law that will respect and protect the rights of the farmers. Instead, while some of the pilgrim-farmers will stay in Manila to continue national lobbying, some will go back to their respective places to strengthen local constituencies.

“If strengthening local constituencies would entail that we have to visit the district offices and houses of our congresspersons, we are more than willing to do that”, Nelson Nullas said.

Quirico Ligmon, another farmer from Sumilao, Bukidnon said that they will likewise ask local government units to pass resolutions urging national legislators to immediately enact the CARPER Bill. “We are hopeful that as we take the campaign in a different level, the congress will give preferential attention and immediate favorable response in our call”, Ligmon added.

The farmers recalled their different experiences during their journey to and while they were in Manila. San-ahan said that the overwhelming support they received from different groups and the continuous apathy of the Congress in the plights of the farmers will serve as their inspiration to continue the CARPER campaign.

While Marlyland Gargar of BALAOD Mindanaw said “Unless the remaining 1.3 M hectares prime agricultural lands is not distributed to the farmers, the real intent of agrarian reform program will remain unfulfilled. BALAOD Mindanaw also believes that it is the Constitutional duty of the Congress to extend and reform CARP”.

The return of the farmers from Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur and Davao del Sur in their hometowns is but a clear expression of the continuity and strengthening of what they had started on the CARPER campaign.

This gesture is likewise an affirmation of their solidarity to all Filipino farmers who are still yet to have their own lands despite their legal right to ownership of the lands they personally till.

The farmers from Sumilao, Agusan del Sur, Davao del Sur and South Bukidnon parted ways with hope that their efforts will not be in vain.

Twenty five farmers from Sumilao, Calatagan and Banasi stayed in Manila to continue constituency
building work on CARPER that includes visiting schools, parishes and communities to gather signatures for CARPER.

Fulfill the rights of the farmers! Enact CARPER Bill!

The Killing Continues....

Things have gone awfully wrong the past week. Rebelyn Pitao, was abducted and was later found dead in an irrigation canal in Carmen , Davao del Norte. Her mother Evangeline said her daughter was tortured, raped and stabbed to death. Her body bore a total five stab wounds from an ice pick;two stab wounds were above the breast, one of which hit the lung; two under the breast, one of which hit the liver eyes,blindfolded with a packing tape, she was strangled by a rope with a diameter three centimeter based on the markings around her neck. Her only crime was that she was the daughter of Leoncio Pitao.

Leoncio Pitao is the father of Rebelyn. He is better known as commander Parago of the New People’s Army who has been a pain in the ass for the military. He was responsible for the capture of Brig. Gen. Victor Obillo and Capt. Eduardo Montealot in February 1999 who were freed 58 days later in captivity. Commander Parago also led the raid on the Davao Penal Colony in April 2007. The killing was aimed at devastating her father who is the leader of Pulang Bagani Command but it had the opposite effect. Rebelyn’s father said in an interview that the killing of her daughter only strengthened his resolve in fighting for the revolution.

The killing of Rebelyn Pitao spurred an avalanche of condemnation and protest. From the street vendors to some lawmakers, many have been utterly disgusted over the brutal killing. Even the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or the MILF condemned it. Google the name Rebelyn Pitao, and you will be flooded with blogs, news and articles, all condemning the killing.

Fingers are all pointing in one direction and that is towards the military. Rebelyn’s mother did not mince words when she said the “evil, vicious men of the military intelligence group” was responsible for killing her daughter. The killing bears the mark of military precision and if you put the puzzle pieces together, it gets all the more clearer.

Rebelyn’s brother, Ryan, was hounded by military agents and was almost stabbed in 2005. Fearing for his life, the incident forced him to join his father in the NPA. In june last year, the younger brother of Commander Parago was shot dead in Tagum City by suspected military agents. Looming in the background is the Arroyo Government’s deadline to defeat and end the communist movement by the end of her term in 2010.

I think this is the reason why President Barack Obama won’t meet up with Arroyo. He can’t have his advocacy for Change be tainted with blood. The US Department of State in its 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in Philippines , cites Human Rights violations perpetrated by the government, extrajudicial killings and the killing of journalists and political activists. Desperate efforts in silencing dissent.

I wonder what happened to the case of Ka Vic Paglinawan, who was shot dead in Malabog, Davao City. He is a farmer leader and organizer who before his death was groundworking in Mindanao for the planned National Mobilization to press Congress to Reform and Extend the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

The killing of Rebelyn Pitao adds up to the list of Extra-Judicial Killings in the Philippines under the Arroyo administration.

(Photos from

3 March Speech of Rep. Risa Hontiveros on CARPER

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of personal and collective privilege.

Before anything else, I would like to mention the farmer leaders who are with us today. They, together with their 160 fellow farmers, marched to Manila to call on us, their representatives to finally enact House Bill 4077 and extend the funding for and reform the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Binabati ko sina Birhilda San-ahan and Quirico Ligmon from Sumilao, Bukidnon; Anita Nobleza from Banasi, Bula, Camarines Sur; Glenn Malaluan of Task Force Baha and Talibayog from Calatagan, Batangas; Kapitan Mario Patriarca from Brgy. Sastre in Gumaca, Quezon; Villamor Galangera from Odionga, Romblon; and Merceditas Santos of Task Force Masagana Recovery from Bulakan, Bulakan.

When we closed our session on December 17, 2008, a few days before Christmas and a few days before the expiration of the funding for land acquisition and distribution, we passed the monstrosity that is Joint Resolution 19 – now Joint Resolution 1. We failed to pass House Bill 4077, the law that would have guaranteed funding for land acquisition and distribution post 2008 and incorporated significant reforms. Instead, we took away compulsory acquisition and made agrarian reform optional.

AKBAYAN has said it before, and AKBAYAN will say it again: VOLUNTARY LAND REFORM IS DEAD LAND REFORM.

When I explained my NO vote to Joint Resolution 19 last year, I warned that in doing what we have done, we have managed to decimate an entire class. But we did not know at the time that the consequences of our actions would be felt so soon on the ground. And the decimation of the ranks of our farmers would come so rapidly.

Soon after the enactment of the Joint Resolution, the Department of Agrarian Reform issued DAR Memo 09-01804, which directs its field operations staff and personnel to, and I quote, “defer the processing of compulsory acquisition including those landholdings in the pipeline, and survey activities for CA until further notice.”

Those who voted YES to Joint Resolution 1 gave long-winded justifications on their vote. From our first Joint Resolution to the second, we said we were doing it to “perfect” the law, and give ourselves more time to study proposed amendments to the program.

Well, Mr. Speaker and colleagues, let us see what took place on the ground during this so-called “study period.”

In the island of Sicogon, under the Municipality of Carles, Iloilo, the powerful corporation Sicogon Development Corporation (SIDECO), which has been setting its sights on the beautiful island of Sicogon for more than a decade, rounded up all the villagers in late 2008 for a meeting. Ignoring the most basic concepts of law and human rights, it declared a “Huwes de Kutsiyo” and threatened physical harm and even death on those who dared go against the proposed Sicogon Island Resort Complex of SIDECO. This resulted in an orgy of violence, including the destruction of a training center, the razing to the ground of a shanty of a farmer-beneficiary, the demolition of the house of farmer-leader Amelia de la Cruz. Right after the declaration of “Huwes de Kutsiyo”, the remains of Thelma Padios, a farmer beneficiary from Sicogon, was discovered with multiple stab wounds and burns on her face and body, and her private parts desecrated

Lives, houses and livelihood were lost because the farmers were protecting 334 has. of the property declared by the Department of Agrarian Reform as agricultural land. SIDECO filed an exemption case, claiming the entire 800 hectares as theirs for the taking, to be made into a resort. To date, no resolution of the case by the Regional Director is forthcoming. Worse, in June 2008 last year, after we passed our first Joint Resolution, a Judge in Barotac Nuevo handling the injunction case filed by Sicogon against the DAR to prevent acquisition decided to archive the case on the curious ground that there is no reason to discuss the case because CARP had expired.

Shaken but with heads unbowed, one hundred peasant families voluntarily evacuated the island to seek refuge and protection from the government and the Catholic Church. Early this month, 312 farmers launched their “Exodus for Land, Life and Dignity” to condemn the oppressions they have suffered in the hands of SIDECO.

And indeed, in other areas in the Philippines, this Resolution is being brandished like a scythe, used as a weapon by resolute landowners eager to protect their crown jewels and grateful for this new policy regime of voluntary land reform.

In Ormoc, owners of big landholdings—which have already been covered under the CARP and even distributed to farmer beneficiaries- have become more emboldened by Joint Resolution 1 to harass farmers and deprive them of their rights. In Barangays Donghol and Mahayag, a former landowner blocked the main roads leading to the farms to prevent the farmers from transporting their produce to and from the millers and the market. Because of this, their families cannot eat nor sell their own palay and other crops. In other cases, the millers receive the palay and tubo from the farmers and then refuse to mill or even return these to the farmers. The former landowners assert that the lands where these were harvested do not belong to the farmers and cannot be theirs anymore, because CARP is already dead.

Most of the landowners in Ormoc have withdrawn their voluntary offers to sell their land. And those whose lands have already been distributed under CARP are gearing to reverse the gains in the past, saying assuredly even to the local police, “Kahit may titulo pa ang mga iyan, e wala na namang CARP. Wala na silang karapatan sa lupa,” as if the previously distributed lands have suddenly become fair game again.

In Davao, Joint Resolution 1 has facilitated the landowner’s circumvention of the constitutional mandate for the redistribution of land to the landless farmers. Former Supreme Court Justice Leo Medialdea’s 53-hectare Estate in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur has been identified for CARP coverage since 2003. However, the landowner allegedly opted to voluntarily offer the land for sale (VOS) to at least 30 potential farmer beneficiaries in order to veer away from CARP’s compulsory acquisition (CA) mode. Six years had passed and yet the VOS process has not been commenced by the landowner and neither has the DAR initiated the sale. Worse, with the issuance of Joint Resolution 1 by Congress late last year, the landowner is no longer interested to voluntarily offer the land to the farmers, and neither can the property be compulsory covered under CARP for lack of budget.

There are many more stories of the same plot. In Rizal, farmer-leaders receive texts from Provincial Agrarian Reform Officers, telling them that nothing they do can convince the DAR to continue redistribution of landholdings. In Pangasinan, MARO’s admit to the belief that CARP has expired and is beyond resuscitation. In Sorsogon, we have gotten word that landowners are now withdrawing their Voluntary Offers to Sell and Voluntary Land Transfers. In Bondoc Peninsula, survey activities are being halted, pursuant to the DAR Policy Directive, and the harassment and criminalization of farmer-beneficiaries are intensifying. In mauban, Catanauan and Gumaca, Quezon, criminal cases were filed against farmers and no action for the coverage of these landholdings has been initiated by the DAR.

As I speak, farmers from all parts of the Philippines are once again making their way to our chambers on foot, bringing with them the voices of the countryside that rings louder and louder each day with the indignation of the unheard and the anger of the righteous. Farmers from Sumilao and Banasi are walking on foot once more to stand in solidarity with other farmers of the country whose cases have not yet been resolved. The farmers in Calatagan once more make their voices heard, refusing to live in fear that their agricultural lands will be snatched away by a mining corporation.

Under our watch, the lives, land and dignity of millions and millions of peasants have suffered the most serious affront in twenty years. Under our watch, their ranks are being decimated, and lands rightfully theirs are being snatched from them. Under our watch, the gains of the agrarian reform program are being frittered away.

Our farmers want only one thing, Mr. Speaker: they want a new CARP law that truly reflects realities on the ground and is faithful to the mandate of the Constitution. Just last week, we created the Speaker’s Special Panel on Agrarian Reform. How do we explain to our farmers that, in answer to their travails on the ground, our solution is to create yet another layer in the bureaucracy, yet another Committee?

This Special Committee should not be used as an excuse to delay further the main task of this House that is to subject HB 4077 to a plenary vote. This committee, if the intention is to consolidate both proposals for a speedier passage of the CARPER bills should –as the Speaker announced in the media – work even during recess so that any perfecting amendments can already be incorporated and immediately subject the same to the plenary for deliberation and approval. Let me emphasize that the special committee should not be used to further desecrate the goals of the agrarian reform program.

I call on all of us today to stand on their side. I implore my colleagues who voted for Joint Resolution 1 to rethink the wisdom of what they have done on the night of December 17, 2008. Let us bring Compulsory Acquisition back to where it should be: right in the center of the agrarian reform program promised by the 1987 Constitution. The deadline of Joint Resolution 1 is once more approaching, and no plenary hearings have yet been set for House Bill 4077, this despite the fact that we justified the Joint Resolution as a means to better study CARP and debate it on the floor.

AKBAYAN continues to call for the passage of House Bill 4077 and the return of Compulsory Acquisition. Let us not be a passive observer to the struggles taking place on the ground, and by our inaction and callousness allow further violations in all contentious agrarian reform areas in the country.

For the farmers of Sicogon and for all farmers in this country – and indeed for a CARP Law with Compulsory Acquisition and responsive reforms -- AKBAYAN continues to stand.

Thank you.

4 march update on lupang hinirang lupang hinarang farmers' pilgrimage for CARPER

by Atty. Kaka J. Bag-ao

De La Salle University and Adamson University showed their overwhelming support to the farmers and to the CARPER!

Students of De La Salle University prepared the breakfast for the pilgrim-farmers yesterday. The farmers remembered their normal everyday life with their families that their sons and daughters would usually prepare for their meals before going to school. They had a sumptuous meal while having interactions with the students.

AT 9:00 in the morning, the farmers begun their walk going to Adamson University to attend a special mass dedicated for the farmers and their cause. Father Nonong Fajardo celebrated the mass stressing the importance of agrarian reform in the country. He reaffirmed that the Catholic Church and Adamson University are in solidarity with the farmers’ cause in advocating for the enactment of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with genuine reform.

Students of Adamson University prepared the lunch for the pilgrim-farmers. Once again, the farmers were moved by the generosity of the young people. After lunch, the farmers initiated a short program to explain further to the students the cause of the pilgrimage and how CARPER would benefit the small farmers and eventually the entire country. Many students expressed their support by signing the CARPER petition.

Then the farmers went to Malate Church. On their arrival and while waiting for the mass to start, 58 farmers (57 men and 1 woman) shaved their heads. They said that this action symbolizes their sacrifices. It likewise symbolizes the apathy of the legislators in agrarian reform issues.

The church was already full when the farmers went inside. More than 1,000 people including 9 bishops attended the mass and showed their support to agrarian reform program extension. The farmers decided to sit in the isle of the church.

After the mass, the farmers and some other supporters had a formation in front of the church. They lied down and chanted the CARPER calls. The mobilization lasted for about an hour. Due to the heat of the sun, one farmer from Sumilao, Bukidnon fainted.

Then the farmers plus 1,000 supporters from different religious groups, Task Force Mapalad (TFM), urban poor sector and others, continued their walk. They were supposed to go to Mendiola. They passed by the City Hall and Quiapo until the police officers approached them. The farmers were not allowed to proceed to Mendiola so they went to Asilo de San Vicente de Savl where they took some rest and had dinner. They likewise spent the night in the said place.

Today, they are having a reflection session in Asilo de San de Savl before then they will head off to Caritas Manila then to the Ateneo de Manila University to thank them for their support and to be in solidarity with the students who will go through a hunger act to support CARPER.

March 3 update on Lupang Hinarang Lupang Hinarang Farmers' Pilgrimage for CARPER

By Atty. Kaka J. Bag-ao

The CARPER pilgrimage is now in Manila!

Yesterday (2 March), as early as 6:00 in the morning and even without having breakfast, the pilgrim-farmers started their day’s walk with full of excitement and enthusiasm. They all knew that a few more steps will soon lead them to Manila.

When they reached Muntinlupa, one bread vendor approached one of the farmers and gave 5 plastics of bread and said “maliit na kontribusyon ko sa pakikipaglaban nyo” (my small contribution to your cause). The farmers were moved by this gesture. On behalf of the 160 farmers, one of them immediately hugged the vendor and whispered “Salamat Bay” (thank you my friend).

The pilgrim-farmers continued their journey. While walking, SPO1 Vega of Muntinlupa PNP approached the farmers and informed that it’s the Mayor’s birthday and the farmers need to re-route. He explained that the alternative route has the same distance and will likewise lead them to their destination. Without any second thought, the farmers accommodated the suggestion of the said police officer. They continued walking and the Muntinlupa police officers escorted the farmers all throughout the Muntinlupa leg. The former facilitated the smooth walk of the farmers and arranged the traffic as well.

In the previous days, the farmers struggled to endure the heat of the sun. Yesterday, however, they walked under the pouring rain. But that did not dissipate their commitment to reach their target for the day.

They reached Mary Mother of God Parochial School soaking wet. They had breakfast and rested for a while. After regaining strength, they proceeded with their walk until they reached Cathedral of St. Andrew in Paranaque at 3:00PM where they had late lunch. At the cathedral, Monsignor Manny Gabriel, the parish priest and Monsignor Greg Ramos, SAC Director, welcomed and attended the needs of the pilgrim-farmers.

The farmers likewise went to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Baclaran where they were blessed by Father Frank Pigeon, superior priest of Baclaran Church Community. The farmers maximized the opportunity to roam around the vicinity of the church and asked the people to sign the CARPER petition. Before they left, they all feasted with the snacks prepared by Father Ventoriano Cueto.

Then they continued walking and reached De La Salle University (DLSU) where they were warmly welcomed by the university with its cheering squad, and the St. Benilde Band chanted the pilgrim-farmers’ calls. Hundreds of students likewise cheered while the farmers approached the university. Aside from DLSU, students from ST. Scholastica and some representatives from the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) were also present and cheered upon the arrival of the pilgrim-farmers. The ambiance was really overwhelming and the farmers felt affirmed and happy.

Despite the long walk (38 kilometers), the farmers still found time to interact with the students who listened to them intently.

A mass entitled “Misa sa Makatotohanang Repormang Agraryo” (Mass for Genuine Agrarian Reform) was celebrated in the chapel of the university.

The pilgrim-farmers settled and rested at the La Salle Sports Complex.

March 2 updates on Lupang Hinirang Lupang Hinarang Farmers' Pilgrimage for CARPER

by Atty. Kaka J. Bag-ao

Yesterday (March 1) was the first day that the Sumilao farmers, Banasi farmers, Calatagan farmers, farmers from Don Carlos in Bukidnon, Davao del Sur, and Agusan del Norte walked together in their bold campaign for CARPER after they converged in front of Rizal’s house in Calamba Laguna last Saturday (28 February).

Thus, from the bare 50 pilgrim-farmers who left Sumilao, Bukidnon last February 11, they now number more than 160. Their increase in ranks speak well of the gravity of their campaign for CARPER, such that the support they have been receiving from the parishes, schools, local government units, even by-standers and commuters continued pouring.

From the St. John the Baptist Church in Calamba, they started their yesterday’s walk towards San Pedro, Laguna at 4:00 a.m. Thus, as they woke up as early as 2:00 a.m., drank coffee, said their prayer, and after they stretched their tired but still willing bodies, they trekked the 28 kilometer distance going to San Pedro.

Around 7:00 am., they rested and ate their breakfast in front of the Nestle plant in Cabuyao, Laguna. Just as soon as they finished eating, they immediately resumed their walk to escape the conquering heat that could slow down their pacing.

Having started to walk early, and doubling their usual pace, they arrived at the Poblacion of San Pedro Laguna at 11:30 a.m. As they entered San Pedro, the public was reminded of the spectacle they witnessed the year before when the Banasi farmers walked passed their place, and even the year before that when the Sumilao farmers also passed by their place.

The pilgrim-farmers stayed at the covered court of San Pedro, Laguna. At 12:00 noon, the Social Action Center (SAC) of San Pedro brought them lunch. They spent their afternoon attending to personal reflection. At 5:00 p.m., they attended the mass celebrated at the parish church of San Pedro. And once again, they gathered more signatures for the citizens’ petition for CARPER from the parishioners.

After they ate their dinner, they spent the night for planning and strategizing especially that they are about to enter Manila. It was the first occasion where all the pilgrim-farmers and their support group met and planned the direction of the pilgrimage for CARPER upon their arrival in Manila.

March 1 updates on Lupang Hinirang Lupang Hinarang Farmers' Pilgrimage for CARPER

by Atty. Kaka J. Bag-ao

The pilgrim-farmers started their day earlier than usual. They woke up at 2:30 a.m. and after warming their stomach with hot coffee, started to walk as early as 5:00 am. They had a long way ahead since they intend to reach Calamba, Laguna, a 35-kilometer walk from San Pablo City.

Around 7:00 a.m., they arrived in Calauan, Laguna and decided to eat their breakfast graciously prepared by the Social Action Center of San Pablo City. After taking breakfast, they proceeded with their walk and arrived in San Isidro Cathedral Church at 10:00. While they were in the church, the parish priest offered them snacks which they took with delight.

From San Isidro Cathedral Church, they walked again and arrived in the San Agustin Parish in Bay where they were welcomed by Fr. Jessi Homosierra, Jr. It was in San Agustin that they ate their lunch.

Despite the long distance they still have to cover, they took a longer rest in San Agustin Parish burning the heat of the sun seemed to take over them. For Manong Nelson Nullas, the farmer leader of KAMMPE in Agusan del Sur the heat worsened his toothache. Likewise, the heat was too much for Manang Hilda San-ahan who already had swollen limbs because of arthritis.

Thus, despite their protestation, they were strongly advised to be in the jeep that carried the belongings of the pilgrim-farmers after being made to understand that they might not be able to make it to Manila if they force themselves to walk.

The burning heat of the sun forced the pilgrim-farmers to take four stop-overs. But they finally arrived in Calamba at 5:00 p.m. where the Calatagan farmers had been waiting for them.

There was a feeling of euphoria when the pilgrim-farmers symbolically converged in front of Rizal’s house in Calamba. They embraced, exchanged pleasantries, and chanted “Tuloy ang Laban!”

After the emotional meeting, they proceeded to St. John the Baptist. At 6:30 p.m., they attended the mass. After the communion, Yoyong Merida of the Sumilao farmers explained to the parishioners the essence and purpose of the pilgrimage. The pilgrim-farmers received the blessings after the mass. More people signified their support for CARPER by signing the citizens’ petition for CARPER.

Thereafter, they ate their dinner at the hall of St. John the Baptist Parish. And after dinner, warm conversation from old friends and new acquaintances flowed over the hall. The pilgrim-farmers were finally on their final stretch to Manila.

Later in the night, the pilgrim-farmers received text messages expressing support for their pilgrimage: “Our prayers go with our farmers” (from Bishop Iniguez); “Our diocese is with you in your struggle for land, will include your prayers in tomorrow’s mass” (from Fr. Greg Ramos, SAC of Paranaque); “God Bless the farmers and our prayers be with you” (from Fr. Clarence Patag, SAC of Lipa, Batangas).