Group condemns St. Tropez’ landgrabbing of Balingcanaway farms

THE Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL, Peasant Alliance in Central Luzon)  condemned the landgrabbing of St. Tropez Holding Corporation of the 63-hectare farms in Bgy. Balingcanaway, Tarlac City, located near the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) and Sta. Rosa-Tarlac Road interchange.

The said lands are covered by Republic Act 1400 or Land Reform Code of 1955 during the Magsaysay administration.  St. Tropez deployed their security guards under Unilateral Security Agency that bar farmers from attending their crops.

The guards have also blocked the irrigation that destroyed their rice crops.  Farmers from Bgy. Balingcanaway requested a public investigation of the Tarlac City council.

“The lands are under the supervision of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR).  Any private claim of ownership on the lands are all anomalous and illegal as DAR officials themselves said that the titles had no clearance from their offices,” said Fidel Castro, AMGL vice-chair.

“The St. Tropez Holding Corp. owned by its president Gabriel Singson, Jr. and chairman of the board Martin Lorenzo, is bullying the farmers.  DAR  said that they do not have any legal claim of the lands and the Tarlac City Municipal Trial Court have decided for them to return the lands to the farmers,” said Castro.

AMGL said that Singson is the son former Central Bank governor Gabriel Singson and Lorenzo is a relative of the influential Lorenzo clan of Lapanday, once led by former agriculture secretary Cito Lorenzo.  Singson and Lorenzo are both involved with the Pancake House Group conglomerate.

“These rich and elitist executives came from nowhere and now claiming lands in Tarlac City.  We know that they are anticipating the sudden surge of market values of the lands within the vicinity of SCTEx and planned Tarlac-Pangsainan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx),” Castro said.

AMGL also condemned the various abuses of St. Tropez’ guards against the farmers.  Farmers said that guards have aimed their firearms at them, destroyed and stole their crops, barred them from cultivating the lands.  On February 25, the guards barred the farmers from preparing the lands for vegetables planting.

“The court have decided, DAR have said that the lands are not properties of St. Tropez, but still the guards are harassing the farmers, this is peasant unrest brewing.  Government agencies act helpless against these bullies, thus, farmers are pushed to mobilize and protest,” Castro added.

AMGL called on the Tarlac City council to help the small farmers of Balingcanaway and stop St. Tropez’ landgrabbing of their farms.

“If the Tarlac City council or any government agency could not do anything about it, the farmers would definitely find someone else to help them of their ordeal,” Castro said.

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