Three farmers in CDO missing as armed men occupy land

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/27 Feb) —  Tension continued to rise when three farmers in Barangay Lumbia were reported  missing after armed men occupied a disputed agrarian reform land purportedly to “enforce an order from the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (Darab).

Sansin Manatad, 50, said his sons went missing amid the tension that followed the February 19 occupation of the 111-hectare land awarded to the
Palalan CARP Farmers Multi-purpose Cooperative (PCFMPC).
The Palalan Carp land is located at the back of  Lumbia Airport where agriculture, settlement and commercial land uses compete with each other.

Afraid to go to the Lumbia Police Station, Manatad reported the incident to the police precinct in Barangay Carmen.

Reported missing by the elder Manatad are his sons Risan, 27; Juniper, 25; and Marjun, 23.

He said they moved out of their land evening of February 19 and sought refuge in the house of their leader, Fernando Bermoy. He said he thought
that his children went to their mother in Barangay Gango in Libona, Bukidnon only to find out that they did not go there.

Manatad said that despite his objections, his three sons decided to leave the disputed land around midnight of Feb. 19 out of fear of the armed men who occupied their land and destroyed their houses.

The elder Manatad together with fellow farmers Eduardo Gaabucayan, 58, Alfredo Masal, 56, Samuel Magtrayo, 48 and Tiburcio Nala, 39 tried to
salvage what was left of the farm houses inside the disputed Carp land last February 20 but claimed to have been physically harassed by armed men.

“Gi butt-stroke ko sa usa ka gwardia nga armado sa AK-47 and was kicked around,” said Gaabucayan.

The group is accusing a rival group of agrarian reform beneficiaries who allegedly want to sell the Carp lands to subdivision developers for
P250-million. Backed by guards who introduced themselves as coming from Dasia Security Agency, the group wanting to sell the agrarian
reform land occupied the area starting February 15, displacing 21 household according to Bermoy, who is also known as Datu Dalangpanan, president of the Lumbia Tribal Association.

MindaNews tried to contact the security agency here for their side but failed to get a comment as of press time.

The Palalan Carp land is located just at the back of the Lumbia Airport where agriculture, settlement and commercial land uses compete with each other.

Bermoy’s group said the moves to convert their land into other uses puts to waste the organic agriculture farm which has become a model farm and that their decision to retain the agricultural use of the land should be respected.

The group is now asking the Department of  Agrarian Reform (DAR) to intervene to ease the tension in the area. Meanwhile, the lawyer of a faction of the PCFMPC said the entry of the group of Beverly Domo, former chair of the PCFMPC, was on the strength of a Darab order dated  January 17
this year.

The order signed by Darab Adjudicator Charlito A. Sabuga-a ordered Bermoy and other members of the PCFMPC to “demolish whatever structure  they introduced in the subject area at their own expense, otherwise, a writ of demolition will be issued.”

Lawyer Florencio Narido, Jr. said they entered the land on February 15 and drove away the “illegal occupants” of the area based on the Darab order. He told MindaNews that the Darab order “became self-executory after the lapse of the reglamentary period for the filing of the Motion for Reconsideration” to the Darab order.

The lawyer of Bermoy and the PCFMPC led by Andrew Donggay, however, argued that the acts of Domo and Narido are illegal. “It is clear that in order to execute the decision of the Darab, a writ of demolition has to be issued first,” said lawyer Ilya Kristine Ravanera.
She said her clients are set to file next week cases against Domo and their lawyer Narido who allegedly led the armed men from the Dasia Security Agency in the alleged illegal eviction and demolition of the farmers’ dwellings in the the Palalan Carp area.
The conflict between the group of Domo and Narido and the group of Bermoy and Donggay stems from conflicting plans for the development of 111-hectare Carp land.
Narido said  they have decided to bring investors to develop the area for  non-agricultural use, while Bermoy and Donggay’s group wants to preserve its agriculture use and had even put up a model organic agriculture land.
The Palalan Carp land is located just at the back of the Lumbia Airport where agriculture, settlement and commercial land uses compete with each other.
The Cooperative Development Authority in Region 10 acknowledged Donggay as the duly elected chair of the PCFMPC after the general assembly voted out Domo in 2009. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)