Filipino farmers call for immediate land distribution

February 19, 2024

Hundreds of farmers from Negros Occidental and Batangas marched to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) headquarters today, demanding the fulfillment of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s pledge for swift agrarian reform. 

Demonstrators said the mobilization underscores the growing impatience among landless farmers over the delayed distribution of private agricultural lands (PALs), a commitment made by the administration last year.

In Batangas, farmers from La-iya pressed for the Land Bank of the Philippines to expedite the issuance of the certificate of deposit to Hennessy Corp., marking a prolonged three-year wait since the memorandum of valuation was acknowledged. 

The peasants said the bottleneck appears to be the bank’s lack of funds to compensate the landowners, a critical step in transferring the land to agrarian reform beneficiaries.

The focus in Negros Occidental was on the extensive haciendas once managed by the late tycoon Eduardo Cojuangco. Covering 4,654 hectares, these lands have been the subject of a long-standing dispute, with farmers demanding their distribution and the nullification of unfavorable agreements with Cojuangco’s cooperatives. 

Task Force Mapalad (TFM), representing the protesting farmers, emphasized the urgency of President Marcos’s intervention to ensure the rapid distribution of CARP-covered lands. 

TFM criticized the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council for bureaucratic delays that hinder the process and urged the president to prioritize the distribution of Cojuangco haciendas and resolve the funding issues with Landbank.

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