The National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan) denounced the fencing of farmlands in Sitio Bangad, Barangay General Lim in Orion, Bataan by men working for Federico Pascual amidst the ongoing Luzon-wide lockdown or the ‘enhanced community quarantine’.

Zaldy Montemayor, chairperson of the Samahan ng mga Magbubukid sa Sitio Bangad, an affiliate organization of Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL), said that they found out on March 23 that a portion of the 33-hectare farmland have already been fenced, which was not there before the lockdown was declared.

Montemayor said that Pascual, who is claiming ownership over the land, wanted to sell the farmland to Sta.Lucia Realty for a residential project. However, upon checking with the Land Registration Authority, no documents could support Pascual’s claim.

The disputed land is being tilled by 42 farmer families with palay, vegetables and fruit-bearing trees as crops. The families have been asserting their rights to the land for over two decades. Last February, the farmers have succeeded in preventing the attempts of Pascual’s men to demolish and displace the farmers and their families.

AMGL in a statement said that, “Ang ganitong desperadong hakbang ng panginoong maylupa ay malinaw na pananamantala sa kasalukuyang kalagayan ng mamamayang limitado ang kilos na bunsod ng lockdown! At ito ay malinaw na manipestasyon na may kinikilingan ang mga checkpoints sa kung sino lamang ang mga pipigilang malayang makakilos dahil hinayaan nilang makaluwas ang mga nagbabakod sa kabila ng sinasabing Enhanced Community Quarantine!”

“We urge the local government units and concerned government agencies to ensure that farmers and their families will be protected against displacement and other forms of exploitation by landlords and private traders in this time of crisis,” Amihan national chairperson Zenaida Soriano said.

She added, “Farmers as food security frontliners have essential roles in our fight against COVID-19. Amid this crisis, we should stand with the Filipino farmers and peasant women to stop the exploitative measures to alleviate them from hunger and poverty and take on the task of contributing to the country’s food security. ###

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