A militant farmers’ group denounced the “inhumane” burning of two farmer’s houses inside Hacienda Yulo in Calamba, Laguna over the weekend.
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) chairman Danilo Ramos said a group of armed men set the houses of Freddie Cacao and Mario Mangubat in Sitio Buntog on fire at around 3 p.m. Saturday.
This was the latest incident in which houses of farmers were burned over a land dispute in the area. Last August, armed men burned three houses inside a fenced section of the land.
Sitio Buntog is part of the 7,100-hectare Hacienda Yulo sugar estate spanning the cities of Calamba, Cabuyao, and Sta. Rosa.
According to the KMP, the men dragged Cacao and his wife Criselda at gunpoint before burning their house. An hour later, the group narrated they returned and set on fire Mangubat’s house on fire even while his wife Dottie was inside.
In a statement, Dottie said she tried to take a video of the incident, but one of the armed men grabbed her cellular phone. They also pointed firearms at their children, she added.
“We weren’t able to do anything, but to watch our houses being burned,” Criselda lamented.
Last Jan. 24, the KMP said the armed blocked the relief goods from reaching the families of the displaced farmers who are in need of food and cash aid.
Samana-Buntog, a KMP-affiliated organization of farmers in Hacienda Yulo, attributed the violence to the absence of a genuine land reform in the country that led to the land dispute.
Spokesperson Leo Mangubat noted a portion of the land was issued with exemption orders, which they had petitioned in December 2016, but it remains unanswered.
The farmers have been asserting their rights to their ancestral lands amid their eviction to give way to residential housing and commercial establishments in the area.
“Our ancestors began tilling these lands since the 1910 Taal Volcano eruption. We are their direct descendants and we have continued planting fruits and vegetables here since then,” Mangubat said.
“Farmers have been here way before the DoJ (Department of Justice) opinion of 1990, the CARP (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program) of 1988, and the Yulo fsmily’s claim which began only in 1948,” he added.