by Ma. Kathleen C. Cabal
CALAUAN, LAGUNA – Preparations are on-going for the five-day camp out of PESANTE Pilipinas happening on February 20 to 24 in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform’s central office at Quezon City. Around 100 farmers from eight provinces are expected to take part in this camp out that aims to address nine of the 84 pending land cases.
Brgy. Imok Councilor and PESANTE Pilipinas President Evangeline Mendoza stressed the need to address these concerns because it has already been long overdue.
The 84 pending land cases have not been resolved since the Presidential Decree No. 27 and the Agrarian Reform Code of 1971 was issued during the Marcos regime. These cases were the backlogs that were not addressed by the government.
She also emphasized that the reason why the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Reform (CARPER) is not working today is because the land owners already know so much about the law that they already found ways to evade it.
Included in the nine cases to be addressed during the camp out is the Coconut Coir case of Barangay Imok, Calauan, Laguna.
The coconut coir project of Imok-Arc Women’s and Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative and also spearheaded by PESANTE Pilipinas, is a strategic project that aims to preserve 50 to 100 hectares of coconut plantation through replanting and fertilization in Calauan, Laguna. A total of 3.1 million grant is also involved in this case.
The coconut coir project has been on-going in Brgy. Imok in Calauan, Laguna since 2010. This project was established by PESANTE Pilipinas through the Imok ARC Women and Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative. The project may look promising because it generates employment in the community, but according to Councilor Mendoza, the process just to put it up was not easy.
“Dalawang taon naming ni-rally ito. Para lang maipatupad ang ganitong klaseng proyekto, dalawang taon namin itong inilaban,” explained Mendoza. She also discussed how the coconut coir project helps the farmers of Barangay Imok despite the fact that the project lacked support from the government.
“Halimbawa sa fiber, kumikita sila ng Php200.00 per day. Kung tuloy-tuloy ang aming operasyon, meron silang napo-produce na Php6000.00 per month. Tapos yung kikitain namin, ibibili namin ulit. Paikot-ikot lang. Kasi ang puhunan naman namin para dito, walang galing sa gobyerno Ang kapital para sa proyektong ito, galing lang din sa mga miyembro. Ang puhunan namin dito ay capital share. Ibig sabihin, lahat ng miyembro, nag-invest nang tig-Php500.00 bawat isa para dito, pambili ng diesel tsaka ng iba pa. Kaya sa amin talaga ito,” she explained.
The purpose of this project is because of the organic vegetable farming that the members of the cooperative initiated in the said barangay. Since farming is the main livelihood of the residents of Brgy. Imok, the cooperative members wanted the rest of the farming families to adapt the organic vegetable farming as well.
Councilor Mendoza also made it clear that they have been resilient to those companies who have shown interest in their project because they do not want to be affiliated with any political officers. For her, it’s not enough to have a capital alone or the manpower alone; it has to be a two-way process.
“Ang hinahanap kasi namin, yung tulong-tulong kami sa pagpapatakbo. Siyempre tinitignan din namin yung motibo nila sa paglapit sa amin. Ang gusto namin, yung parte sila, pero parte rin kami sa implementation,” she explained.
She also discussed the severe case of corruption in the Philippines and the reason why it is hard to address this issue. “Pati pondo ng mga magbubukid, halimbawa sa Fertilizer scam, papipirmahin kami ng attendance sheet pero ang nakasulat ‘recipient of liquid fertilizer’, pero wala naman kaming natatanggap. Doon ko talaga napatunayan na ang korupsyon, nag-uumpisa sa mga barangay, kaya naman napakahirap ng laban natin sa anti-corruption,” she shared.
PESANTE Pilipinas is a nationwide alliance of farmers focusing on agricultural development and agrarian reform of the country.