The Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women and Anakpawis Partylist condemned the ongoing demolition threat against farmers and furniture shop owners along Santa Rosa-Tagaytay Road in Barangay Tartaria and Lumil in Silang, Cavite and the fencing of agricultural lands tilled by farmers in Lupang Kapdula in Dasmarińas City, Cavite. The groups said that demolition, land grabbing and farmers’ displacement continued amid pandemic and socio-economic crises exposing how brutal the Duterte government is towards the poor and marginalized sectors.

“We denounce these inhumane acts committed by the government against farmers, small business owners and the people of Cavite. Nagsusumikap sila para makaahon sa patong-patong na kahirapan at kagutuman dulot ng pandemya at lockdown ngunit sa halip na makatanggap ng ayuda at suporta, gusto pa silang tanggalan ng kabuhayan at tirahan,” Amihan and Anakpawis Partylist secretary general Cathy Estavillo exclaimed.

Estavillo added that Samahang Magbubukid sa Tartaria (SAMATA) and Ugnayan ng mga Ina sa Tartaria (UGIT) organized a community pantry at the Tartaria Chapel last April to help ease the poverty and hunger of fellow residents and farmers in the area as their sources of income were gravely hit by the pandemic and government aid was scarce.

“We are urging the public to support the people of Tartaria and Lumil as they continue to struggle for their survival in this pandemic,” Estavillo said.

On July 14, at least 100 member demolition teams together with an estimated 100 armed guards from Merge Core Security Agency were deployed in the area but failed to dismantle houses as they failed to present a court order to the affected residents. Farmers, shop owners and residents in Tartaria and Lumil have since set up a barricade in an attempt to stop the illegal demolition against 100 houses and business establishments.

The Silang Municipal Engineering Department said that the Ifugao shop owners have no building permits but the Ifugao-Muslim Furniture and Pottery Shop Owners Association asserted that the LGU failed to provide necessary permits despite their effort to obtain proper documents.

SAMATA said that the demolition aims to give way to development projects led by Ayala Land, Inc. through a deal with Emilio “Orange” Aguinaldo IV, the great grandson of former Philippine president Emilio Aguinaldo.

Residents from Batangas occupied and tilled the area after the eruption of Taal Volcano in 1911.The Aguinaldo clan has been claiming an estimated 300 hectares of land in the area since 1940, known as Lupang Aguinaldo.

Amihan and Anakpawis Partylist likewise condemned the ongoing fencing by the JAKA Investments Corporation, South Cavite Land Co. Inc. and Sta. Lucia Realty Corporation on a disputed agricultural land in Lupang Kapdula, in Dasmarińas City which started last July 6, destroying the crops of farmers.

Farmers of Lupang Kapdula have been tilling the 155 hectare land since 1976 but a deceptive agreement with JAKA Investments Co. and South Cavite Land Company in 1996 displaced them from their own lands. In May 2017, they conducted a “balik-saka” campaign to assert their rights to the land.

Samahang Magbubukid ng Kapdula (SAMAKA) said that on October 23, 2020, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) conducted its second revalidation for the distribution of certificate of land ownership award (CLOA) to farmer beneficiaries so they were shocked upon learning that the Land Use Cases Committee (LUCC) allowed the development project. They asserted that the fencing was illegal as they have an ongoing appeal to the LUCC.

 “Lupang Aguinaldo and Lupang Kapdula residents and farmers are victims of the government’s bogus agrarian reform program. Farmers have been tilling the lands for decades but agrarian reform laws became an instrument of landlords and corporations to deprive farmers of their rights. Duterte ordered the fast-tracking of land-use conversion which resulted in the issuance of DAR Administrative Order No. 1 series of 2019, streamlining the process for land use conversion applications,” Estavillo said.

“Duterte has been really quick in ordering anti-people and anti-farmer policies to serve the best interests of oligarchs and his cronies but he has been comfortably sleeping on socio-economic aid and poverty alleviation measures for the urban and rural poor sectors,” Estavillo added.

“Duterte’s callous and anti-poor projects are valid reasons for the majority of Filipinos to call for #WakasanNa and join the people’s protest on July 26 to mark his last State of the Nation Address (SONA),” Estavillo ended. ###

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