Farmers occupy Maramag land leased to Del Monte

DAVAO CITY  (MindaNews/26 July) – Some one hundred farmers have pitched tents and occupied portions of the Ocaya Ranch in Barangay Kuya, Maramag town in Bukidnon to protest its being leased to a giant agribusiness firm instead of distributed to them, reports said.

Oscar Manego, leader of the Danggawan Landless Farmers Association, said they will continue staking it out at the 100-hectare Ocaya Ranch until officials from the Department of Agrarian Reform in Region 10 dialogue with them.

A meeting between the farmers and DAR officials is already scheduled in Malaybalay City on July 28.

Manego said they are protesting that Del Monte Philippines Inc. was able to lease the farm from the Ocayas despite a DAR Notice of Coverage issued by Assistant Secretary Dominador Andres in 2008.

UNDER CARP COVERAGE. Landless farmers occupy the 100-hectare Ocaya farm in Barangay Kuya, Maramag town in Bukidnon, Monday morning, July 26. Photo by John Louie Dela Victoria/Task Force Mapalad

“The land rightly belongs to the landless farmer beneficiaries,” he insisted.

The DAR has already released Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) to 16 beneficiaries covering 45 hectares of the Ocaya farm.

The turnover of the remaining 55 hectares was deferred after the processing of the final list of beneficiaries was delayed.

“Meanwhile, Del Monte was able to sublease the farm. We are wondering how,” Manego said.

Manego said Del Monte has already deployed heavy equipment at the Ocaya farm for the start of its pineapple production. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)