A Public Statement from Pesante-Pilipinas

A Public Statement: 

PANAWAGAN SA DEPARTAMENTO NG AGRIKULTURA AT KAY PRESIDENTE RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE: KATARUNGAN SA PAGPASLANG KAY ARNEL FIGUEROA, KATARUNGAN SA CARP PETITIONERS NG CORON, PALAWAN!! 

The Climate Change Congress of the Philippines (CCCP) and the Pesante-Pilipinas condemn in the strongest possible terms the senseless and cold-blooded murder of Arnel Figueroa, 44 years old and Pesante-Palawan chairman, in Yulo King Ranch, Coron, Palawan! 

Last Tuesday, September 20, 2016, seven (7) members of Pesante-Palawan, a provincial farmers’ federation, were peacefully cultivating their farm in Barangay Decalachao, within the Yulo King Ranch (YKR), a government property, in Coron, Palawan. At around 4:00PM, a contingent of four (4) blue guards of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) of the Department of Agriculture (DA), two (2) Forest Management Bureau (FMB) staff and four (4) Philippine Marine soldiers arrived and ordered the farmers to stop the farming activities and leave the area. 

At around 4:30PM, amidst the heated arguments, BAI blue guards Dan Nelson Mayo, Ronald Paguntalan, and Bong Manlabao started pulling the plants and proceeded to destroy the house of Bert Gole, a member of the organization. Without any provocation the BAI security guard, Dan Nelson Mayo, aimed his shotgun and killed Arnel Figueroa, while the latter was talking with the FMB personnel. Paguntalan also fired his gun, a calibre .38 revolver seriously wounding another farmer, Levy Embanisido. 

After the cold-blooded murder, Mayo and the Philippine Marine soldiers fled and sought refuge inside the Philippine Marine detachment near the airport. At around 6:30PM, a police patrol arrived to investigate the murder and proceeded to the detachment. Until 3:00APM, the cadaver of the peasant leader remained in the spot where he was killed and the police have not come out of the barracks with the security guard. Hundreds of farmers barricaded the streets to prevent the escape of the murderer and his cohorts. 

BACKGROUND OF THE CASE: YULO KING RANCH CASE, CORON, PALAWAN. 

In 1975, President Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Proclamation (PP) 1387, declaring 39,238.93 hectares of lands in Coron, Busuanga as pasture lands. It was owned by Luis Yulo and Peter Sabido, known cronies of President Ferdinand Marcos. In 1986, it was sequestered by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and the management of the ranch was placed under the Bureau of Animal Industries (BAI). 

In March 2010, the Supreme Court lifted the sequestration order and transferred the management of the YKR to the Philippine Forest Corp.

In 2013 President Aquino signed PP 663 transferring its administration to the Forest Management Bureau (FMB) of the DENR. YKR is recognized as the biggest ranch in Asia, and yet, the number of cattle in the land has decreased to a mere 1,000 cattle. 

Around 12,000 has of the 40,000 has land has been declared as Alienable and Disposable (A&D) and 1,000 has already been distributed. PESANTE-Palawan has been tilling the land since 2009 and filed petitions for CARP coverage. Many dialogs have been conducted with President Benigno Aquino III, DAR, DENR and DA for the distribution of 2,000 has of the A& D lands to Pesante members. Around 700 hectares have been covered by CARP and distributed to Pesante members and other farmers groups. 

PP 1387 is already superseded by EO 407 s of 1990, RA 6657 (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program) and RA 9700 s of 2009 (CARP Extension with Reforms). These laws provide that the DENR should already turn over to the DAR all sequestered lands by the PCGG for distribution to qualified farmer beneficiaries. 

BAI and PESANTE are both petitioning for the distribution of the same area by the DENR. BAI is claiming 2,000 has for its Pasteur land operations. On a ratio of 1:1 ratio of cow and land, they would just need around 1,000 has. 

The farmers previously filed cases against the blue guards for violence and harassments. The CENRO of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the BAI filed false charges against the farmers. The BAI also confiscated two (2) hand tractors of the farmers. Secretary Alcala previously ordered for the return of these hand tractors. The violence and agrarian related cases persist until the gruesome murder happened! 

We cry for justice. The farmers are not pigs, they are human beings, they are CARP petitioners! 

We call on the DOJ, CHR and PNP to render swift justice for farmer leader Arnel Figueroa and bring to the bar of justice all who conspired in the murder and physical violence against the farmers. They should also provide assistance and compensation to the families and victims of violence from these perpetrators; 

We call on the DAR and the DENR to distribute the 2,000 hectares agricultural lands to Pesante CARP petitioners and distribute all A and D lands in the Yulo King Ranch to qualified farmer beneficiaries; 

We call on the BAI, DENR and DOJ to drop all cases against the farmers and curb the violence against the CARP petitioners who are in active dialog with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Agriculture; 

We call on the DAR and the PNP to protect the peaceful cultivation and the human rights of the farmers! 

For social justice, 

EVANGELINE SILVA, President, Pesante-Pilipinas

MARIA. MAAYA L. THIND, General Secretary, Pesante-Pilipinas

REYMELEN E. UMALAY,Treasurer, Pesante-Pilipinas  

MOST REV. ANTONIO J. LEDESMA, SJ, Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro

CHRISTIAN S. MONSOD,  Co-convenor, CCCP Convenor, CCCP 

Contact Persons: Evangeline Silva, Pesante-Pilipinas President,09287426478; Thind, Pesante-Palawan, 09205531981 

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