Monday, 20 May 2019
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Sumilao farmers march on

Lawyers file motion for reconsideration in Malacañang

On Day 5 of the Sumilao farmers’ ‘March for Land’ through the municipalities of Kinoguitan, Balingwan, Talisayan, and Medina in Misamis Oriental, one of them, known as Ka Tessie, almost fainted. She, with several other farmers who joined the 60-day march to Manila that began last October 10, 2007, has been showing signs of exhaustion. 

But after being greeted by locals with food, water, and rally chants, they continued the 30-kilometer walk to Medina that began yesterday at dawn after a modest breakfast of coffee and bread. The farmers reached their target destination by 4:30 PM, inspired by the generous show of support, that included Medina’s parish priest blessing them at a Mass, bystanders joining the march, and motorists blowing their vehicle horns and handing out donations. The tired expression on the Sumilao farmers’ faces turned into determined resolve in their mass action for agrarian reform. They are expected to arrive in Manila on December 10, 2007.    

Meanwhile in Manila, their lawyers are adopting a similar attitude. Aison Garcia of the alternative legal resource NGO, SALIGAN (Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal), co-counsel of the Sumilao farmers, filed a motion for reconsideration on the farmers’ petition to cancel and/or revoke the conversion order on their land today at the Office of the President in Malacañang. 

Aside from scrapping the conversion order that would’ve transformed the irrigated land from agricultural to agro-industrial property, Garcia’s group want the land immediately subjected to Comprehensive Agrarian Reform (CARP) coverage and distributed to the qualified beneficiaries. 

“The Sumilao farmers raised the petition directly before the Office of the President because we’re unable to obtain a favorable response from the DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform) Secretary (Nasser Pangandaman),” said Garcia. He added that Pangandaman should have ordered its cancellation due to the glaring violations of the conversion order by the NSQR Management and Development Corporation, and San Miguel Foods Inc. that later bought the property.   

“Cancellation of the Conversion Order and the subsequent distribution of the land to the landless farmers will bring hope and a sense of justice not only to the present families of the Sumilao farmers, most of whom belong to the Higaonon Indigenous Communities, but also to their successors,” said Garcia.