Fourteen farmers harvesting coconut and banana crops were charged with theft by a private company in Norzagaray, Bulacan, a farmers’ group reported.
In an urgent alert, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the “landgrabbing” Royal Mollucan Realty Holding Inc. (RMHI) continues its harassment of members of the Samahang Magsasaka sa San Mateo (SAMA-SAMA) and charged the farmers with theft for harvesting their own crops.
RMHI alleged its guards chanced upon the farmers taking coconuts and bananas inside the 75.5-hectare disputed property at Sitio Comra, Barangay San Mateo.
The Office of the Bulacan Provincial Prosecutor recommended a PhP6,000 bail for each of the farmers.
The KMP however said the property the company claims it owns had been placed under a Notice of Coverage under the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
RMHI has failed in its legal manoeuvres to have the property exempted from CARP, the KMP added.
The group added that the Court of Appeals has ruled with finality that the land should already be awarded to the members of SAMA-SAMA in accordance with an order from the Office of the President.
“But the Norzagaray Municipal Agrarian Reform Office and the Bulacan Provincial Agrarian Reform Office have been foot-dragging,” KMP said.
In its desperation, RMHI had been violent to the farmer-beneficiaries, demolishing their houses, destroying their crops, burned farming equipment, fenced-off agricultural plots and drove away farmers, KMP revealed.
The farmer-beneficiaries have been tilling the property for three decades already, the KMP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)