Private corporations, government plan wipe out of Hacienda Dolores communities

Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL)

Led by Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (Farmers’ Alliance in Central Luzon), Aniban ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan sa Hacienda Dolores (ANMHD, Association of the United Citizens of Hacienda Dolores), Karapatan-Central Luzon, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasants Movement of the Philippines) and Anakpawis Party-list, a National Fact-finding and Solidarity Mission (NFFSM) was held at the Hacienda Dolores in Porac town on 30-31 October to investigate alleged land grabbing and displacement efforts by Leonardo-Lachenal-Leonio Holdings Inc. (LLL or LHI), FL Property Management Corp. (FL Corp.) and Ayala Land, Inc.

The activity was also joined by groups such as the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), Social-Pastoral Apostolate of Holy Family Academy (Angeles city) and St. Scholastica Academy – Manila, Central Luzon Ayta Association, Aguman Dareng Maglalautang Capampangan (AMC), AMBALA – Hacienda Luisita, Karapatan – National, Sinagbayan, Anakbayan, Bayan Muna – Pampanga, PDIARS and KM 64.

LHI and FL Corp. have claimed about 754 hectares of the 2,099-hectare Hacienda Dolores which is connected by an interchange of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx).

“The people of Hacienda Dolores is in grave distress, facing the land grabbing measures of LHI, FL Corp. and Ayala Land.  The children, women, elderly and farmers have their own stories shared in the activity,” Joseph Canlas said, AMGL chairperson and Anakpawis Party-list regional coordinator.

“The private corporations have violated the socio-economic rights of the people of Hacienda Dolores, when they were barred from attending to their farms since 2011. LHI and FL Corp. also destroyed crops, bulldozed of their farms, and their guards snatched livestock and poultry owned by the farmers.  They filed trumped up charges against the farmers resulting to illegal arrests.  These corporations are essentially killing the people as their sources of livelihood are being cut off,” Canlas said.

The NFFSM group initially documented 26 cases of destruction and divestment of properties, victimizing 21 farmers, five peasant women; one case of illegal mass arrest victimizing 12 farmers on 4 November 2011; one case of illegal arrest and detention on 28 July this year; two separate cases of harassment, threat and intimidation; and a case of coercion to a farmer to sign a waiver of voluntary surrender of land and recruitment of local and indigenous Ayta to serve as goons and security guards.

According to a certain Ruben Zalta, 79 years old, one of the eldest in the village cultivating 1.5 hectare of rice land, 7 hectare with vegetable crops, 20 mango trees and 15 coconut tree, 2 hectare with guava trees.  He was a victim of coercion to sign the waiver on 24 August this year when about 20 unidentified men in jackets and bonnets surrounded him with his 81-year old wife, Teresita Zalta and said “papatayin kita kapag hindi ka pumirma sa waiver” (I will kill you if you don’t sign the waiver).

Zalta, then trembling, signed the waiver in front of a man with hand inside the jacket’s pocket, apparently holding something. After the incident, he filed a complaint at the barangay hall but told to complain at the municipal hall.  At the town hall, he was advised to return to the barangay hall but faced with chairman Nestor Tolentino, his son-in-law replying “wala na tayong magagawa dahil nasa korte na,” (there is nothing we can do as it is already at the courts).  At present, his house was being used by the security guards as post and his poultry are missing.

In addition, some women, namely Rossan Colobong, Mercedita Angeles, Filipina Franco, Iluminada Ignacio, Rowena Santiago, Josephine De Jesus and Virginia Ayson resort to other work such as laundry, farm work, marketing and retail as they were not able to harvest their crops as their farms were fenced by LHI and FL Corp.  They said that their crops were stolen by the goons and security guards and this has affected their way of life as they lost source of income, for food and schooling of their children.

The women also supposed that they were able to harvest 10 to 15 tons of guava daily, and they were delivered to Pampang market in Angeles city, a guava jam factory in Bulacan and some parts of Metro Manila.  Thus, they were able to earn weekly about P3,000 to P7,500 from a price set to P10 to P25 per kg of guava.  Since May this year, as their farms were seized from them, they lost about P180,000 of potential income.

The land grabbing of LHI and FL Corp. also affected the youth in Hacienda Dolores.  A young girl named Merry Jane G. Franco, 18 years old, was not able to go to college as her family lost their source of income.  She witnessed how the security guards barred her parents to attend their farm, demolished their house, declining number of livestock and poultry and destruction of their crops.

The LHI is claiming 298 hectares covering Purok 3 to 8 of Hacienda Dolores, while FL Corp. is claiming 456 hectares ranging from th plains to the mountain tops involving some ancestral lands of Ayta communities. Ayala Land has publicized their plan with Hacienda Dolores, covering 1,000 hectares to be developed similar to the Nuvali project in Sta. Rosa city in Laguna province. Nuvali is an eco-residential and tourism project catering rich foreign and local businesses.  LHI and FL Corp. has already barred at least 350 farmers from attending their farms.

“The case of Hacienda Dolores is an unquestionable instance of bankruptcy of past and present land reform laws. The farmers’ ancestors have cultivated the lands since the Spanish colonialism, even before any Philippine government or constitution was established. But now, they are being displaced and their livelihood seized,” Canlas said.

Hacienda Dolores farmers said that their ancestors have cultivated the lands since 1835, in a farming community of 20 households. The lands were then claimed by Gregorio Macapinlac during the late 19th century and from 1916 to 1975 were claimed by the Champourchin family. During the Marcos dictatorship, part of Hacienda Dolores was claimed by the Puyat family and in 1999 by Dayrit family. In 2005, LHI began claiming lands and attempted to displace farmers while FL Corp. started in 2007.

“It is very clear that government laws did not serve the farmers of Hacienda Dolores.  Since the Land Reform Act of Magsaysay in 1955 until the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with “Reforms” or CARPer, the farmers still do not secure the lands they have cultivated,” Canlas said.

“The moral and just demand of Hacienda Dolores farmers and residents is their lands to be given back, punish the private corporations and their goons and security guards,” Canlas added.

AMGL said that it would take a miracle for the Aquino government to serve the interest of the people of Hacienda Dolores. With Aquino’s family scheming to keep control over the vast lands of Hacienda Luisita, Aquino is clearly on the side of private corporations and his financial backer Ayala Land. Aquino is also pushing the implementation of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program which means nothing but the collusion of the government and rich foreign and local business to rake up profits from the country’s natural and human resources.

“It is imperative that poor Hacienda Dolores farmers and residents to firmly defend their rights to land. We call on different sectors to support their struggle as it is one with the poor and oppressed sectors of the country. Their emancipation is the genuine step to development in our country, not the concrete, superficial projects of Ayala Land and similar corporations,” Canlas called.

Joseph Canlas
Chairperson, AMGL

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