Broadcasting lies will not do any good to the Central Mindanao University administrators

because the facts will stare them in their faces

 

BukidnoonI

 

 June 19, 2011

 

Related postings:

 

 

■   Central Mindanao guards fire at BTL peasants, 3 injured

 

■   Peasant women in Bukidnon  launch Operation Tikad, assert right to life, insist on tilling lands, June 8, 2011

 

■   Kampuhan in Bukidnon: Peasants of Buffalo, Tamaraw and Limus fight for the land they have tilled for years, May 25, 2011

 

■   Asian Women's Coalition support to peasant women

 

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A BTL farmer showing their Certificate of Land Ownership Award which was later cancelled by the Supreme Court

 

The Central Mindanao University occupies 3,000 hectares, a land area six times that of UP Diliman and is even bigger than Makati City. The university wants to eject 800 families tilling  400 hectares of the land. And it justicifies this by saying:.

 

"Human rights and social justice are two-way conventions that should not bestow undue favors to one party only. The human rights of the informal settlers to eke out a living by continually occupying portion of the university’s land are deemed incompatible with the human rights of this institution and the thousands of students who wish to avail of the quality education at affordable cost that CMU is offering."

 

The statement here of the BTL organization gives out the facts that will allow the reader a better understanding of the case.

 

   
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Photos courtesy of AMIHAN -  Northen Mindanao Region
           
     

 

In response to CMU's Public Statement (link here: http://www.cmu.edu.ph/?p=345),

 we are issuing this collective statement of the BTL and the BTL Women's Association

In response to CMU's lies
June 19, 2011

WE ARE NOT SQUATTERS! In contrast to the statements of Central Mindanao University, we have every right to claim the land as our own. The 400 hectares of land is where we have founded our homes and livelihood.

Tracing the landholdings of Central Mindanao University, their land title for the 3,080 hectares the campus sits on has been continuously disputed since the university’s institution in 1958. Indigenous Peoples’ communities around the university insist that CMU had claimed part of their ancestral lands and that they were driven out by default due to the land titling processes instituted by the Philippine government which they hadn’t the benefit to understand before.

In 1985, after the lease CMU granted to the Philippine Packing Incorporated expired, a part of the lands were rented out for cultivation to some university employees through the Kilusang Sariling Sikap Program. Many of them were previously employed by CMU to manage the university’s own rice fields that had then gone bankrupt.

In 1986, even before the farmers could harvest the rice, CMU changed its decision and refused to allow the farmers to continue tilling the land. It was during this time that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program under then President Corazon Aquino was implemented. The farmers organized themselves through BUFFALO (Bukidnon Free Farmers and Agricultural Laborers Organization) and petitioned for the inclusion of the 1,200 hectares of land they were tilling into the program. Poor farmers nearby also decided to come together and apply for lands – another 1,200 hectares – thus, the TAMARAW (Triad Agricultural Manpower of Rural Active Workers) and LIMUS (Landless Tillers Inhabitants of Musuan) were born. In 1989, the petition of the three groups – collectively called BTL – was partly approved, the Department of Agrarian Reform and Adjudication Board ordering the distribution of 400 hectares (from the original 2,400 in the applications) to 252 farmers. But CMU insisted that they needed the landed for experimental farms and other educational purposes and had the Certificate of Land Ownership Awards given to the farmers canceled by the Supreme Court in 1992.

When the farmers were finally served a writ of demolition in 1999, they bargained for an extension of their land lease for another ten years. The final agreement had been for an extension of only five years but it stipulated that the farmers will only be evicted “if the relocation site is ready for occupancy upon review and recommendation of the Task Force” (the Task Force being composed of the presidents of BTL, Maramag Mayor, then Cong. Juan Miguel Zubiri, the Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer and the CMU president). Until now, no decent relocation site has been offered.

The first relocation sites that were offered in 2007 to the farmers were in the municipality of San Fernando and in Barangay Cabanglasan, Malaybalay. The area shown to the farmers were on steep mountain slopes, not suitable for agriculture – the places definitely ‘needing additional support to the farmers who may transfer’. Another relocation site offered was in Talakag, a better area for agricultural production. However, it was only 128 hectares, not enough to accommodate the BTL communities. Additionally, other farmers have already laid claim over the area. The BTL members did not want to 1. Fight among themselves for the 128 hectares and 2. Fight with other farmers for the small resources while the larger lands are leased to multi-national corporations or monopolized by institutions.

The P40,000, which the university have held against those who already accepted the money – because they desperately needed money from the successive failure of the crops those times – is not enough for a farmer to start from scratch with a land that is not fit for tilling.

CMU boasted their framework of peace and development, humanitarian accord, poverty alleviation, social justice, human right and the rule of law. And yet they throw back at us the P2.2 M unsettled payment of the farmers who were not able to make enough the past years due to unanticipated natural occurrences such as the prolonged drought of last year. Senator Zubiri had offered to help in the payment of the said debt but CMU maintained there was no payment of any sort.

The refusal to allocate the lands that originally had been unproductive – but were painstakingly cultivated over the years by the farmers – is not in any way humanitarian even for their reasons of educational advancement. The university owns 3,080 hectares of land. The farmers have already contented themselves with the aspiration to have the right to till 400 hectares. CMU should not use the promotion of education as a leverage to evict the farmers because it has been obvious from
the start that the goal of CMU, and that of President Maria Luisa Soliven, has been the commercialization of the facilities of the university for profit at the expense of the farmers and the students alike. We propose to CMU that instead of kicking out the famers, CMU should seek a larger budget appropriation to education from the national government as it is the Constitutional responsibility of the state to prioritize education.

The issue of relocation has always played an important factor in the many negotiations between the BTL and CMU over the years. The farmers maintain that the reliance on a third party for the relocation site puts the burden on the farmers.

On the other proposals of CMU in lieu of the land titles, the farmers are adamant to accept these for many reasons. First, the farming communities have been there for more than two decades. Never had there been any provision for the education of the farmers’ children. The farmers refuse to believe this offer especially now that the tuition fee in CMU has risen. Their children will in fact be further robbed of opportunities to study since their parents would no longer have sustainable income.

The farmers hope that the CMU would not use the promotion of education as a leverage because in their experience with the university, the target of the educational facilities have never been the poor – as what they claim with their ‘affordable education’ – because they have seen the commercialization of the facilities in the university, the rising fees, and the non-benefit of the institution to the poor communities that surround it. In its statement, "So the Public Will Know," reasons for evicting us was obscured. But a report that Davao Agricultural Ventures Corporation (DAVCO) targeting our parcel of land for its plantation business is becoming apparent.

Ours have been and continues to be a historical struggle for our right to land and life. CMU, which employs guns and goons, continue to deny us of our democratic right. Yet we shall remain steadfast until genuine agrarian reform is achieved.

 

Billy Jardin, hit in the leg
BTL Chair Wennie Loable feared of losing his right eye sight after being injured on June 14.JPG
Santillan's leg pound by splinters, with a bullet still unremoved
 BTL women, eating a lunch of rice and canned sardines after a meeting
           
     
BTL Women's Association leader Marilou Portin grazed by a bullet in her upper left breastGreg  Marilou Portin in front of her hut
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Press release
June 20, 2011
For reference: Jay Calaguing, UMA information officer

To prevent more bloodshed: Farm group calls for DAR intervention on farmers-CMU land dispute!

Bukidnon – Farm workers led based group Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura UMA] call for the immediate investigation and intervention of the Department of Agrarian Reform and urge the land reform body to appeal to the high court to reverse its decision to prevent more bloodshed against BUFFALO, TAMARAW and LITMUS farmers.

UMA through its secretary general Rodel Mesa conveyed its abhorrence on the June 14, 2011shooting incident led by the security cum armed goons of the Central Mindanao University on the peaceful protest camp of BUFFALO , TAMARAW and LITMUS. “We condemned the CMU’s action against the farmers and farm workers who wish nothing but a little space on the school’s vast property for them to till. The 3,080 hectares were the school sits on has been continuously contested since the 1958 by indigenous people’s communities which was part of their ancestral land that were driven out because of government titling process which they did not knew. That is why CMU has no right to scold and impose its will against the hapless peasants for the property is under contested”.

In 1985, after the Philippine Packing Inc expire its contract, part of the land were rented to the employees to cultivate the land through the Kilusang Sariling Sikap program. Many of the farmers were employed to work on the CMU’s rice field that had gone bankrupt. So these means they are a long time tillers of the land contrary to the university’s claim that the farmers and farm workers are “squatters”.

“After the Supreme Court decided favoring CMU in 1992 ordering the cancellations of Certificate of Land Ownership Award [CLOA] on the 400 hectares of land approved by DAR to be distributed, the university’s past and present president continuously harassing the peasants of constant threat of eviction. Private security forces were part of the demolition job by destroying their crops Not only that, CMU allowed military forces inside the premises threatening the residents who are members of BTL and branding them as communist sympathizers.” The UMA leader said.

According to a report, the reason why CMU has an itching hand to get rid of the farmers and farm workers because of the impending investment of the Davao Agricultural Ventures Corporation. Under the guise of education promotion which under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reform [CARPER] is exempted for land distribution. Two birds in stone, getting the finance burden over budget cut and at the same time getting rid of the farm workers in the process.

“DAR should act as soon as possible, the farmers and farm workers of BUFFALO , TAMARAW and LITMUS is not going to give up their struggle to the lands for decades have become their main source of livelihood as genuine tillers. And at the same time we are supporting the struggle of BTL farmers and farm workers for their right to the land that CMU president Maria Luisia Soliven and before her continuously deny out of sheer greed to profit. Also we are calling for an appropriate action of the local government of Bukidnon through Vice Gov. Jose Ma. Zubiri on the shooting incident that resulted to the wounding of the seven protesters and file criminal charges against Chevron Security for assaulting a peaceful protest camp while administrative and possible criminal charge against CMU president Ma. Luisia Soliven for letting this assault happened”.
 

The protest camp

USELESS. A BTL farmer showing their Certificate of Land Ownership Award

later cancelled by the Supreme Court

       
           
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