Rethinking Society Over a Cup of Coffee

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!