Sumilao farmers get remaining 10 hectares plus 3 hectares from DAR

SUMILAO, Bukidnon — The long wait is over, finally.

Sumilao farmers received last Sunday the remaining 10 hectares, plus 3 hectares, of the disputed 144-hectare estate here from Agrarian Reform Secretary Gil delos Reyes and DAR Undersecretary Jerry “Jing” Pacturan in a simple turnover ceremony here.

The turnover ceremony of the remaining 10 hectares came six months after they were awarded the 15 hectares of land outside the disputed 144-hectare estate of the San Miguel Corp. and another 50 hectares within the 144 hectares last April 16, 2010.

“Matapos ang tatlong taong pakikipaglaban sa aming karapatan sa lupa, naibalik na sa amin ang kabuuang 144 ektaryang lupain,”said Panaw Sumilao Multipurpose Cooperative chairman and president Napoleon “Yoyong” Merida Jr.

The 26-year-old Merida took the mantle of leadership of the embattled Sumilao farmers after the killing of their leader, Rene Peñas, on June 5, 2009.

Peñas was on his way home on board a motorcycle from a celebration following the successful passage of the CARPER law when he was ambushed and killed almost midnight along a secluded stretch of road in this barangay.

Lawyer Jan Perry Eugenio of Balay Alternative Legal Advocates for Development in Mindanaw, Inc. (BALAOD-Mindanaw), which served as the Sumilao farmers’ lawyers, expressed happiness that the battle is finally over.

Eugenio also said that he is very happy that instead of 144 hectares, San Miguel gave the farmers a total of 147 hectares or 3 hectares over what the farmers were demanding.

“San Miguel decided to award 13 hectares last Sunday because the area was contiguous and they do not want the hassle of subdividing it. So they gave the farmers 13 hectares for a total of 147 hectares,” he told this reporter.

Merida said that 50 hectares of the 144 hectares have been distributed to 63 farmer-members of the Panaw Sumilao MPC; 50 hectares serve as communal farm of the cooperative; 34 hectares will be farmed by the Panaw Sumilao MPC farmers starting next year since these land, although already have a CLOA in favor of the farmers, are under leased by Del Monte Philippines, Inc. and are being planted with pineapples by DMPI.

The 13 hectares awarded to them last Sunday, according to Merida, will be part of the communal farm of the Panaw Sumilao MPC. Bong D. Fabe

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