Day 34: Walk for Sumilao, Walk for the Peasantry

11 November 2007 is the Sumilao Farmers' 2nd day of walk in the island of Luzon.  They first set foot on this island on 9 November in the Municipality of Matnog.  Yesterday they traversed the whole stretch from the Municipality of Irosin to Sorsogon City, covering 37 kilometers.   

The marchers saw some vast farms along the way.  They saw their fellow farmers tilling and developing their respective lands.  Some of these local farmers approached and chatted with the marchers.  The local farmers learned that though the issue on repression and infringement of the small farmers' rights are prevalent, somehow, they find that in a way, they are still in a better position and condition compared to the others.  

The Sumilao Farmers left the local farmers with an assurance that they will finish and continue to advocate the extension and reformation of CARP.  

On their way to Sorsogon City, another group of farmers was staging a rally against the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).  These farmers tried to join the ranks of the Sumilao Farmers, but eventually decided to let the Sumilao Farmers have their own campaign and demonstration. 

The following farmer organizations joined the Sumilao farmers toward Sorsogon city: PANGOPOD, BAP, LPKI-SCUPFI, CBTG and Coastal Core.  These organizations have been waiting for the arrival of the Sumilao Farmers inLuzon for quite some time; They wanted to show their support and solidarity with the marchers.  

The rest of the walk went smooth; by-standers and motorists kept on shouting chants and messages of solidarity with the Sumilao Farmers.  

For some reason or another, the pace of the marchers was faster compared to the previous days.  They arrived in Sorsogon City earlier than expected.  They proceeded to Fatima Parish Church of Sorsogon City where Bishop Arturo M. Bastes welcomed them.   

Two of The Sumilao Farmers, Yoyong and Toto, maximized the presence of some members of the local media.  In an interview with Radyo Natin, they explained the history and reason why they decided to walk from Bukidnon to Manila.   

They stayed in the Diocese Pastoral Center of Sorsogon City where the city's Social Action Center (SAC) attended to their personal needs.

Revisiting the Sumilao Case:

Cancellation and/or Revocation of the Conversion Order Issued to Quisumbing is Proper

Despite the lapse of more than five (5) years from the time the conversion order became final and executory (25 August 1999), NQSRMDC and its successor-in-interest, SMFI, failed to initiate or undertake any single development work in the area, in violation of the conditions of the conversion order pursuant to the rules governing conversion.  

Be it noted that when NQSRMDC applied for conversion of the land from agricultural to agro-industrial, it included the following project proposals in its development plan otherwise known as the Bukidnon Agro-Industrial Development Association (BAIDA):  

Development Academy of Mindanao which constitutes the following: Institute for Continuing Higher Education; Institute for Livelihood Science (Vocational and Technical School); Institute for Agribusiness Research; Museum, Library and Cultural Center which covers an area of 24 hectares;  

Bukidnon Agro-Industrial Park which consist of corn processing for corn oil, corn starch, various corn products; rice processing for wine, rice-based snacks, exportable rice; cassava processing for starch, alcohol and food delicacies; processed and prepared food market; cold storage and ice plant; cannery system; commercial stores; public market, and abbatoir needing about 67 hectares;  

Forest Development includes open spaces and parks for recreation, horseback riding, memorial and animals (mini zoo) estimated to cover 33 hectares;

Support Facilities include the construction of a hotel (360 rooms), Restaurants, Dormitories and Housing Project covering an area of 20 hectares;

Mindanao Sports Development Center that includes facilities that shall qualify for international competitions such as: track and filed oval, baseball and softball, tennis courts, basketball courts, swimming pools, equestrian court, games of chance – billiard, bowling, etc.; and

Commercial Mall

A careful perusal of the facts would show that applicant NQSRMDC failed to comply with the strict regulations on conversion of agricultural lands.  The proposed hog project by SMFI is very different from the approved development plan by the applicant NQSRMDC.  

The Fellowship of the 144-hectare Land in Sumilao 

The Sumilao Farmers would like to thank Laan Para sa Kinabukasan Inc., ITF, Batit Anay Project, Diocese of Sorsogon thru Sorsogon Social Action Foundation Inc. (SSAFI), and PANGODPOD Inc. for the statement they released extending their support and solidarity with the Sumilao Farmers.   

The Sumilao Farmers would also want to thank those farmer organizations who joined them – PANGOPOD, BAP, LPKI-SCUPFI, CBTG and Coastal Core; Bishop Arturo Bastes for his warm welcome when they reached Sorsogon City; and the Social Action Center for providing the Sumilao Farmers a place to stay.  

Today and Tomorrow 

The Sumilao Farmers are on their way to the Municipality of Putyaw, another 37 kilometers distance from Sorsogon City.  Tomorrow, they will leave Putyaw and will head off to Daraga for a 23-kilometer walk.  

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Balay Alternative Legal Advocates for Development in Mindanaw (BALAOD Mindanaw)

Door 3 Balay Mindanaw SIAD Peace Center

53A 12th St., zone II, Upper Bulua

9000 Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines

+63 8822 738794

+63 8822 738794 (telefax)

[email protected]

[email protected]

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