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HomeFront PageOpinion SectionTransforming a Community into Military Reservation, the Height of Social Injustice

Transforming a Community into Military Reservation, the Height of Social Injustice

Sitio Kibaritan : In Total Disarray

Kim’s Dream  Orlan Ravanera

The firing of cannons at dawn from 3am to 7am has created so much phobia to the community especially to the children who are shouting in fear and some decided not to go to school anymore. The non-stop firing of guns (M16) and the blasting of cannons are continuously instilling fear and havoc to the children as they would recall that horrible incident which happened on March 25,2016 when three children were victims of the blasting of an UXO (Unidentified Explosive Ordnance). So painful to see a father of the two of three victim-children shouting in tears while gathering the blasted organs of his children as the dogs were also running for the blasted parts.

            Such horrible incident should have not happened If only the AFP hierarchy has listened to the strong recommendation of the LGU Committee headed by then Vice Mayor now the honorable Mayor of Kalilangan, Bukidnon, Hon. Raymon Charl Gamboa,  not to  declare Sitio Kibaritan as part of the  46,000-hectare Military Reservation because “it is so dangerous to make the 195-has.-Sitio which is already a community with an Elementary School, a Chapel and a Day-Care Center as a part of the reservation.

            It has been the contention of the AFP that Kibaritan is a Military Reservation by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 134 signed by then President Diosdado Macapagal on July 11, 1963. Such has been belied by no less than the Lawyer-Mayor of Kalilangan as he categorially declared that Sitio Kibaritan has never been a part of the Military Reservation as the present occupants have been tilling their farm lands for more than 60 years already since the fifties when their grandparents as Settlers began tilling their lands. As the occupant-farmers’ counter-measure, they cited President Duterte’s Executive Order 75 issued in 2019 “directing all departments, bureaus, offices and instrumentalities of the government to identify lands owned by the government devoted to or suitable for agriculture for distributions to qualified beneficiaries.”

            As  pointed-out by Mayor Gamboa who was formerly the Chief of the Legal Division of the DAR in Bukidnon, Sitio Kibaritan has  been classified as Alienable & Disposable and the present occupants have already achieved prior or vested right – thus, Kibaritan has never been a part of the military reservation. That being the truth, it is so puzzling why the DENR hired three Geodetic  Firms paying them 20 million pesos to do land survey that led to the putting-up of  border-markers or “muhon”  that classified the 195 hectares as part of the reservation. Such has puzzled the occupants so much and are asking DENR in desperation: “TOTOO BA NA SINABI NG DENR NG VALENCIA, BUKIDNON NA NAMOHUNAN DAHIL WALA RAW TAO NA NAGSASAKA DOON? HA WALANG TAO, ANO PALA KAMI, MGA BASURA? GRRR, from then on, the crops of the farmer-occupants are being buck-hoed, a glaring violation of the Constitutional mandate that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of law.”  Such abusive acts are glaring violation of their human rights to food and livelihood.

            The present occupants who are now organized into Kibaritan Farmers St. Peter Higaonon Tribe Agricultural Cooperative are categorically asking, “how dare our lands had been land-grabbed using pronouncement of military reservation as an alibi? We are so puzzled why our land have been converted into farming projects in cohort with the Department of Agriculture, even  granting MATG DA’s fund of P299,650, adhering to the ELCAC initiatives of government. Indeed we are puzzled no end by the DA granted such gargantuan fund to the MATG  on the basis of us being “red-tag” with the MATG’s pronouncement that there are some 100 FR (former rebels) in Kibaritan.  No sir! We are the grandchildren of former soldiers and we are never rebels.” The Regional Director of the Department of Agriculture must explain why the fund that should go to the poor farmers was given to MATG, a part of which was used to buy a tractor that is being used to destroy our crops? Your Excellency, as the Acting Secretary of Agriculture, we hope that due investigation should be done. You know that the Filipino farmers are now living in extreme poverty as 3 of 4 young farmers have already left farming to work in the urban centers as janitors, drivers or waiters, yet such precious funds to liberate them went to help military officials.

            “What is so painful is the unscrupulous fencing of the farm-to-market road, the destruction of our fences, the cutting of cassava and kamote and replaced by the planting of corn as ordered by the military officials.  Now these officials are using our lands for their own vested interest. Is this the way to convert our land into a military reservation? Those who ordered were cutting our plants in the presence of military gun-men in gross violation of our human rights! We are farmers and farming is our livelihood to feed our children and to live a dignified life. Apparently, the ones gaining from our lands are military officials for their self-vested interest in the guise of transforming our land into military reservation.  We are treated as “disposable wastes”, as shown by the throwing of stone and hurting of Ms. Novelyn Pasague  by a certain Ciriaco A. Lomas-e, Jr. INF (GSC) PA when she with co-farmers were planting corn in Mrs. Irene Acaya’s farm. Ms. Novelyn was so hurt and had to see a doctor and had even suffered nervous breakdown.” Apparently, the message of these military officials is clear as they instill fear to take hold of the farmers’ land.  Is the enrichment of these officials means the dispossession of the poor farmers?

            The Kibaritan farmers are now strongly advocating for social justice based on the Constitutional pronouncement that “the State shall promote social justice in all phases of national development.”  Yet, in standing for their right, they reported that no less than Mindanao Army Training Group-TRADOC (MATG-TRADOC) Commander Lomas-e has encouraged them to be rebels when he said, “MATAGAL NA KAYONG NAKIKINABANG SA LUPANG PAGMAMAY-ARI NG MILITARY. ANG TITIGAS NG ULO NINYO, MABUTI PA MAGREBELDE NA LANG KAYO!” Thus, the farmers are now asking, “ In barring us from our land, MATG has built fences. Ang mga tanong po ng  mamamayan sa Kibaritan na gusto nilang iparating sa MATG: ”MAGKANO BA ANG TOTAL BUDGET SA FENCING?  TOTOO BA NA ANG TOTOONG CONTRACTOR AY ANG FORMER MAYOR PIZARO NG KALILANGANN NOONG SIYA AY MAYOR PA?  BAKIT SA INYONG PROJECT SITE, WALA MAN LANG INFORMATION BILLBOARDS? MAY TINATAGO BA KAYO?”

            Indeed, poverty, hunger, ecological disaster, corruption, violence, greed and apathy, social injustice, gross inequities and violent extremism, when put together, is the lethal combination that puts a country in disarray caused by formidable social structures that can only be described as pyramidal, elitist and oppressive. This truism is now happening in Sitio Kibaritan as the community is now living in extreme poverty, non-stop oppression and corruption.

            While our health centers have no medicine, our pupils are in dire need of educational materials and the poor, the aged, those with disabilities and the marginalized sectors are not being assisted by DSWD for lack of funds, yet the ELCAC BUDGET IS INCREASING BY THE BILLIONS OF PESOS? For what?  Well, such is RES IPSA LOQUITOR AS SHOWN IN KIBARITAN WHICH IS NOW IN TOTAL DISARRAY! SUCH SOCIAL WRONG SHOULD NOW BE RECTIFIED BY NO LESS THAN PRES BBM HIMSELF AS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF!

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