NAGA CITY– They left Davao City bearing meager belongings: a bagful of clothes good for ten days, a lunchbox and a cup. They had to leave their fields, their families for a mission — to bring their woes for land and justice and call the attention of the national government.
The delegates of the nationwide caravan for land justice, now on their fifth day of the caravan, have more seas to cross and unknown plains and mountains to trudge until they make it to Mendiola bridge where 7,000 other farmers like them are demanding for genuine land reform and justice for the peasant victims in the struggle for land. They are also demanding, at the minimum, for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (HB 3059) which will mandate the free distribution of lands to all landless peasants within five years.
One of the caravan’s pilgrims from Davao is Diolito Diarog, a member of the Obo-Klata tribe from Kahusayan sub-village in Tugbok District.
“Landgrabbing of our ancestral lands by one of the most influential and powerful figures in Davao City led to the killing of Datu Dominador Diarog, my uncle, when he refused to give up our land to give way to a palatial kingdom by a religious cult,” said Diarog.
The small villlage of Kahusayan at the foot of Mt. Apo has long been faced with the problem of landgrabbing. Villagers residing around the palatial mansion owned by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, a known leader of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the name above every name, were offered a measly 10,000 pesos for them to sell and leave their lands, or else have their lands fenced with barbed wires and be prevented from passing through their traditional farming and hunting grounds.
The issue came to light with the killing of Datu Doming Diarog last April 31, 2008 by military agents at the behest of village captain Greg Canada and Pastor Apollo Quiboloy. Diarog’s wife and two daughters were also injured.
“Until now the families of Datu Diarog and other victims are crying for justice,” lamented Diarog.
University ‘farmers’ to be displaced
Meanwhile, Carlos Anacleto, a farmer living within the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) reservation area in Kabacan, Cotabato province, said he will seek the help of Anakpawis partylist and other progressive partylists. He said he would call for the revocation of Presidential Proclamation No. 428, amended as RA 3801, which placed 5,091 hectares of traditional farm lands under a reservation area.
“The PP No. 428 or RA 3081 has deprived farmers in Arakan Valley of our right to the land that we and our ancestors have tilled for decades. Now we are continuously being threatened by the elements of the 39th Infantry Battallion of the Philippine Army as we continue to defy these anti-farmer declarations that move for our dislocation,” said Anacleto.
Other farmer pilgrims from the Davao region are calling for the stop of the massive conversion of remaining farm lands into banana, jathropa and other foreign-owned cashcrop plantations.
Farmers from Davao Oriental are also demanding for a stop in the mining operations in their province like the Pujada Nickel Bay project of BHP Billiton in the farming areas of San Isidro, Governor Generoso and Mati. (KMP Southern Mindanao)