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Stop using farmers, DAR advises left-leaning organizations

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) called on left-leaning organizations to stop utilizing farmers for the promotion of their goal and urged them for a dialogue.

In a press conference on Monday, DAR Secretary Bernie Cruz noted that instead of supporting the farmers, the groups may even affect the distribution process of lands that the department is now speeding.

On Thursday, 93 individuals, including farmers, campaigners, and students, were arrested at Hacienda Tinang in Concepcion, Tarlac. They have been freed after paying bail.

The police report said they were equipped with rotavator, demolished the sugarcane plantation owned by Agriculture Cooperative, and when responding personnel sought to pacify them, got rowdy and tried to hinder the law enforcement from completing their legal responsibilities.

They were accused of malicious mischief, resistance and significant disobedience, and obstruction of justice.

Cruz listed the Ugnayan ng Magsasaka sa Agrikultura, an organization linked with the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, and other youth and artists organizations as among the groups behind the farmers.

The farmers, members of the group Makisama Tinang, claimed a Certificate of Land Ownership Award for the 200-hectare disputed land that has previously been issued to 236 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program recipients in 1995 but has not been turned over yet.

“Nakikiusap kami dito sa ating mga kasamahan, sa ibat ibang group, huwag na nating gamitin ‘yung ating mga magsasaka para isulong kung anuman ‘yung agenda natin. Ang kailangan natin magtulung-tulong tayo para masiguro natin na matulungan talaga natin ‘yung mga magsasaka at maging food adequate ‘yung ating bansa (I am appealing to these groups, let’s stop manipulating the farmers to pursue whatever agenda we have. We need to come together to actually help the farmers and make the country food sufficient),” Cruz stated.

Cruz also asked Vice President Leni Robredo and other lawmakers to examine first before expressing pronouncements.

Robredo claimed in a statement on Saturday indicated that the activities at Hacienda Tinang were calm until the police came and arrested them.

“Ang sinasabi ni VP Robredo should hindi ginagawa ng pulis ‘yun, ‘yung mapayapang pagkilos at ikukulong at huhulihin ‘yung mga magsasaka. Ang sinasabi ko, dapat nag-imbestiga muna sila. Mapayapa ba na sirain mo ‘yung apat na ektaryang tanim? Hindi ‘yun mapayapa. At hindi mapayapa na pinapakialaman ng ibat ibang group, ng mga estudyante na walang kinalaman doon, ‘yung ating mga magsasaka (What VP Robredo was saying was that the police should not be doing that as the arrested farmers were undertaking a peaceful activity. I said they should investigate first. Is destroying four hectares of land peaceful? No. And it was not peaceful either for groups, students who have nothing to do with the subject, to meddle with the farmers),” Cruz said.

He claimed that among those who were arrested were foreigners while only 13 were legal farmers.

If the group really cared for the marginalized and the farmers, Cruz said they should have sought out to DAR instead of Robredo.

“Huwag na tayong magtago tago. Mga makakaliwa talaga ‘yung mga nandoon (Let us not hide [behind those groups]. They were leftists,” Cruz stated, noting it was confirmed by former group members.

He appealed to the left-leaning factions to sit with them, unite and collaborate with the administration, saying 50 years of insurgency have not helped the country whatsoever.

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