Arroyo farmer who died in makeshift camp buried

BACOLOD CITY—A FARMER seeking the distribution of the 157-hectare Hacienda Bacan in Negros Occidental who died in the makeshift camp outside the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Central Office in Quezon City was buried Sunday at his hometown at Karam Cemetery in Isabela.

Rogelio Salva, 61, was found dead by fellow farmers at around 5 a.m. last November 17 when they tried to wake him up for breakfast.

Salva was among 20 farmers who were arrested and detained at police station 10 in Quezon City two years ago for conducting a protest assembly at the Land Registration Authority to demand registration of a new title for Bacan in the name of the Republic of the Philippines. 

Police investigators who came to the scene found no traces of foul play and declared that he probably died of cardiac arrest while asleep.
Last September, Salva returned to Manila along with a dozen other farmers from Bacan to renew their campaign for registration of title.

Last October 26, the Registry of Deeds of Negros Occidental finally registered a new title for Bacan and subsequently also registered the farmers’ certificate of land ownership award (CLOA) covering 148 hectares of the hacienda.

Farmers said Salva was looking forward to a meeting with DAR Secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes to personally thank him for the issuance of CLOA and to ask him for their immediate installation in the hacienda when he met his fate.

His body was shipped home last November 22 to his hometown in Isabela where his family, friends and fellow farmers paid their last respect to Salva whom they described as a “land rights warrior who never wavered in the struggle.”

Farmers from various haciendas covered by the land distribution campaign of Task Force Mapalad (TFM) gathered at around 10 a.m. at Salva’s residence in Hacienda Bacan in Barangay Guintubhan, Isabela, to pay tribute.

“He was determined up to the last moment to fight for his right and for the right of poor farmers to own land under the government’s land distribution program,” said TFM president Jose Rodito Angeles.

Salva’s body was brought at around 1 p.m. to San Nicolas Church for a last mass before he was buried.

The camp of the former owner of the estate, Jose Miguel Arroyo, the husband of former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo, refuses to give up control of the land, which under the law should be distributed to its tillers under the 22-year-old  Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

It was then President Arroyo herself who promised in 2001 that she would distribute all her family’s landholdings to their tillers under the CARP. But it was only after Mrs. Arroyo’s term that the DAR was able to register the CLOA under Salva’s group. Carol Claudio

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