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Farmers brace for ‘Yolan-DAR’

Around 45 farmer-leaders from Yolanda-hit Leyte will be in Manila on Monday to demand resolution to their land problems, according to Rights Network project officer Baby Reyes.

Reyes, whose group is closely working with the landless farmers in Region 8, said the farmers are coming from Katarungan-Eastern Visayas,  a federation of farmers and fisherfolks with 1,800 members across Leyte, Tacloban and Ormoc Cities, and Eastern Samar.

De Los Reyes
They will camp out at the Department of Agrarian Reform Central Office and seek dialogue with DAR Secretary Virgilio De Los Reyes to solve the frmers’ “lack of tenurial evidence as a result of the DAR’s slow response to their land issues.”

According to Reyes, this problem “have caused delay in securing support services from agencies and international and national organizations involved in the rehabilitation programs in the region after Yolanda hit Eastern Visayas in 2013.”

 “Mataposcang Yolanda, mas mabigat ang hinaharap naming ngayon, ang Yolan-DAR! Mas marami kaming mga casualties dito,” said Manuel Cayubit, farmer leader from Barugo.

In a statement, the group compared the alleged slow or lack of DAR’s response on their land issues to the devastation caused by typhoon which leveled Leyte and Samar.

“In 2008, DAR Region 8 has reported as having accomplished the distribution of more than 11,000 CLOAs to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries in the municipalities of Alangalang, Barugo, Jaro and Ormoc, when only a few hundreds have actually been awarded,” said Reyes in a statement.

Reyes added that Ormoc, more than 1,000 farmers who are in possession of their CLOAs remained uninstalled a decade after they have been declared as beneficiaries.

“Sa totoo lang, ang mga biktima ng Yolan-DAR ay pananagutan ni PNoy,” said Rosenda Apay, one of the thousands of uninstalled farmer beneficiaries in Ormoc.

Villamor ‘Bro’ Ureña, another farmer leader in Alangalang, said that in the admistration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III the progress of  agrarian reform “has stalled”, this  noting the “slow resolution of problems in title reconstitution, distribution of CLOAs in lands covered under Leyte Sab-A Basin Development Authority (LSBDA).”

Reyes maintained that the Yolanda-hit farmer leaders are hoping that DAR Secretary De los Reyes “will accede to their request for a dialogue on February 24 so that they may be able to seek direct answers to their issues.”

 Meanwhile, over 100 representatives from different Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and Yolanda survivors have welcomed the arrival of Dr. Hilal Elver, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, for his visit in the Philippines from February 20 to 27.

With Elver’s visit, the groups have raised critical issues of the people against the policies of the Philippine government of food security in the context of disasters and climate change.

During her mission the Special Rapporteur will collect first-hand information in relation to the realization of the right to food and will examine how the State is addressing the situation of those who do not have adequate access to food, said said Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina ATM), a an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups.

In a statement, Garganera said, “We need to increase our capacity to produce our own food for the consumption of our people while reducing the impacts of extractive and dirty industries such as mining and coal powerplant.”

“Without doing so, our food security will continually be at risk,” added Garganera.

 “We welcome the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur to our country to help us build our struggle in achieving food security and fight for our right to food even in the face of a changing climate,” said Gerry Arances, national coordinator, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ).

The Philippines is already one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change today, according to the group.

“The Philippines country is ranked second in the 2014 Climate Change Risk Index of Germanwatch.”

“Her visit will also be instrumental in exposing the policies of the government that aggravates the vulnerabilities of communities such as the promotion of dirty energy that threaten food production and even human health,” said Arances in a statement.

It was learned that based on the latest data of PMCJ, from an existing 17 coal-fired power plants, there will be an additional 26 coal plant projects that are expected to be online by 2020, owed to 71 coal-operating contracts awarded by the government from 2007 to 2013, despite the global movement to divest from coal.

The groups also raised the issue on the country’s marine ecosystem, where according to the groups, 60% of the total protein intake of Filipinos comes from, are also among those affected by the climate crisis.

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