500 Kibaritan Farrmers Desperately Appealing to PresBBM
It is so painful to know of the sad plight of some five hundred poor farmers in Sitio Kibaritan, Malinao, Kalilangan, Bukidnon who have been living in extreme poverty but instead of being helped, they have become victims of oppression and even of corruption. Their forefathers, some were Ifugaos & Igorots (Indigenous Peoples from Benguet & Mountain Province) were former soldiers who have been occupying their land as settlers since the fifties. Apparently, the present occupants as children and grandchildren, have already acquired prior right to own the land, the 195 hectares of land that their ancestors have been tilling which were classified then in 1953 as Alienable & Disposable (A&D).
With such prior right, they have been advocating for the titling of their land when they organized themselves as the Kibaritan Landless Association since 2001. With that noble intention of land titling, the president of the association named Rodrigo Abellano together with vice-president named, Andres Alar, had been collecting P500 per home lot and P1,000 for every hectare from every member for the land titling and for other expenses, i.e., lawyer’s fee for filing of cases, travelling expenses of these named officers and for emergeny purposes. Since 2008 until 2020, it is the contention of the members that these officers have already collected from them about a P1,500,000 without even issuing a receipt. What is even more troubling to the members is that these officers requested their signatures, informing them that their signatures is one of the requirements for titling.
All these years, no title has been issued. What is more troubling is the information from the DENR in Central Office that a document has reached Malacanang that the farmers in Kibaritan have signed a document that is giving their consent to have the 195 hectares be part of the Military Reservation. Glaringly, these officers have betrayed their innocent members for money making. They collected gargantuan amount from their poor members to have their land titled as just an alibi but using their signatures to give out their precious land as military reservation, perhaps for some favor? In connivance with whom? With the former mayor who was then one with military officials to convert the farmers’ land into a military reservation? Mr. President, such declaration that they have given their consent is a blatant LIE. Those who sent that to Malacanang must be made accountable as they have fooled the Office of the President.
Mr. President, in 2020, the Kibaritan farmers have already ousted the named president and vice-president and have chosen leaders with courage and integrity to fight for their rights. They are now organized into the KIBARITAN FARMERS ST. PETER HIGAONON TRIBE AGRICULTURE COOOPERATIVE.
Their appeal to His Excellency categorically stated that such conversion of the 195 hectares as part of the 46,000-ha. military reservation is contrary to Presidential Proclamation 188 signed on June 29,1950 by then President of the Philippines Elpidio Quirino stating to “reserve for rice and corn and other food production purposes certain parcels of public domain,” especially their 195 hectares of land that they have been tilling for more than 60 years now. Such prior right has been reinforced by Executive Order 75, s. 2019 signed by no less than former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte which “directs all the Departments, Bureaus, Offices and Instrumentalities of the Government devoted or suitable for agriculture for distribution to qualified beneficiaries.” They are puzzled no end why they are denied of their ownership of the land despite the declaration from the DAR and the DENR that the 195 hectares of land is within the A & D area.
In their appeal to His Excellency, they said, “SA NGAYON PO AY PINAAALIS KAMI NG MGA MILITARY SA AMING LUGAR NA MAYROON NA PONG PAARALAN SINCE 1984 PA, MAY SIMBAHAN, AT ITO PO AY ISANG KOMUNIDAD, DAHIL AYON SA KANILA ANG LUPANG 195 EKTARYA AY ISANG MILITARY RESERVATION. IPINAGKAIT NG MGA MILITARY PERSONNEL ANG AMING KARAPATAN. KINUHA SA MGA MAGSASAKA ANG LUPANG SINASAKA NA HINDI IDINADAAN SA TAMANG PROSESO. BASTA LANG PINAAALIS, AT KINUKUHANAN NG PANGKABUHAYAAN, AT HUMANTONG PA SA PANANAKOT, PANANAJKIT AT PANINIGAW NG MGA MILITARY PERSONNEL SA MGA MAGSASAKA/MAMAMAYAN NG SITIO KIBARITAN. SIGAW SA AMIN NG COMMANDING OFFICER NA SI COL. CIRIACO A. LOMAS-E, “MATAGAL NA KAYONG NAKINABANG SA LUPANG PAGMAMAY-ARI NG MILITARY, ANG TITIGAS NG ULO NINYO, MABUTI PA MAGREBELDE NA LANG KAYO!”
Ang tanong po ng mga probreng magsasaka na inagawan ng lupa. “KUNG MILITARY RESERVATION NGA, BAKIT ANG MGA MILILTARY PERSONNEL ANG NAGTANIM NG MAIS AT PALAY AT SILA ANG NAKINABANG AT ANG MGA KAWAWANG MAGSASAKA ANG NAWALAN NG PANGKABUHAYAN MULA PA NOONG 2008. ANG AMING TANIM NA TUBO AY PINAPUTOL PA NG COMMANDING OFFICER NA SI COL. LOMAS-E. ANG MGA KAMOTE, KAMOTENG- KAHOY AY PINA GRIDDER NA DAPAT SANA AY NAKATULONG SA AMIN NA MAIBSAN ANG KAHIRAPAN LALO NA SA KINAKAHARAP PA NATIN ANG KRISIS NADULOT NG COVID-19. ANG DAANAN PA MULA ‘FARM TO MARKET ROAD’ AY HINDI NA MADAANAN. HINDI PALA MILITARY RESERVATION ANG LUPA DAHIL SILA NA ANG NAKINABANG. ANONG MILITARY RESERVATION GAYONG SILA PO ANG NAKINABANG, IBINULSA NILA AND KITA SA LUPANG SAKAHAN NA SILA ANG NAGTANIM. GINAWA LAMANG ALIBI NA MILITARY RESERVATION AREA ANG LUPA DITO SA SITIO KIBARITAN.
“ ANG NANGYARI PA AY MAY TATLONG BATA NA NAMATAY DAHIL SA UNIDENTIFIED EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE (UXO) NA HINAYAAN LAMANG NG MGA MILITARY NASA LUGAR NA GINAWA NILANG FIRING RANGE. HINDI MAN LANG NILAGYAN NG WARNING SIGNS, HINDI NA CLEAR ANG AREA AT SIYANG NAGING DAHILAN NG PAGKAMATAY NG TATLONG BATA AT DALAWA ANG INJURED NOONG TAONG 2016.”
His Excellency, it has been said that in this country, no one is above the law, all must bow down to the majesty of the law because we follow the rule of law and not of men. Apparently, the rule of law has not been followed but the rule of power, money and guns. Pity the poor farmers in Sitio Kibaritan. If further investigation is needed, they are willing to cooperate. As shouted to them by Col. Lomas-e, “Ang titigas ng ulo ninyo. Mabuti pa, mag rebelde na lang kayo.” Mr. President, please be informed that we will seek for social justice not through armed struggle. We firmly believe in your pro-people, pro-environment leadership. We believe that the rule of law will prevail over the rule of power, money and guns under your Presidency. With this letter goes our firm salute and with a fervent prayer that our prior right be finally recognized – all for God’s greater glory!