Groups condemn demolition of farmworkers’ homes in Negros

LA CASTELLANA, Negros Occidental – Civil society groups working on agrarian reform and rural development condemn the illegal demolition and the sustained harassment of farmworkers of Hacienda Vicenta, Sitio Cambagting, Barangay Cabacungan, La Castellana on August 10, 2022.

Kaisahan-Negros, Partido Manggagawa-Negros, Dagyaw Paralegals, and the Negros Occidental Federation of Farmer Associations denounced the “illegal, inhumane, and violent demolition” of the homes of Hacienda Vicenta farmworkers, because there was no court order presented and the demolition proceeded even though children were still inside their houses.

Based on the sworn affidavit of Deana Estrada, 53, one of the residents and farmworkers in the hacienda, her niece called her home as unknown men were destroying her house on the morning of August 10, Wednesday.

Despite pleas to delay the demolition because children were inside the house, the unknown men continued to destroy their home.

”Nagtawag siya liwat nga guba na ang akon balay,” Estrada continued.

“The perpetrators didn’t care and didn’t show any remorse even if they may have killed an innocent child in the process of destroying the homes and harassing the farmers,” said Inday Goco, the Secretary-General of PM-Negros.

According to the residents, the perpetrators also threatened them, saying they were only getting started and that there would be more attacks to come.

“Nagkadto ako sa barangay para mangayo bulig pero hambal sang sekretarya wala didto si Kapitan gani nagkadto ako sa Cabacungan Police Station pero naghambal sila nga indi sila kabulig kag ginpabalik ako sa  Barangay para  magparecord,” Estrada lamented.

“It is unfortunate and very disappointing that the duty-bearers and law enforcers didn’t stay true to their mandate to ‘serve and protect’ the farmers asking for their help,” Goco expressed.

“This incident is also a call to action for the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) because if only the land claims of the farmers were swiftly and rightfully resolved, such violence need not happen,” noted Jec Magbato of KAISAHAN-Negros.

DAR’s processing of their land claims was halted because of the Land Use Cases Committee’s decision granting the application for conversion of LN Agustin, the landowner.

KAISAHAN argues that since the land is irrigated, as certified by National Irrigation Administration, it should have never been converted.  Under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) or Republic Act 6657, irrigated and irrigable lands are considered “non-negotiable for conversion.”

The groups also urged the respective government agencies, such as DAR, the security sector, and the local government, to act on the land claims of the farmworkers and an investigation on the incident that occurred in Hacienda Vicenta. They commit to work with the agencies and the community for the protection and peaceful resolution of their land rights claim.