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Lakbayan: Negros farmers walk for land

Text and photos by VINCENT GO
SOME 150 farmers from Negros Island arrived at the Manila North Harbor today as part of Lakbayan, a protest march to dramatize their frustration over government's failure to speed up the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER).

Feb 10, 2012

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Text and photos by VINCENT GO

SOME 150 farmers from Negros Island arrived at the Manila North Harbor today as part of Lakbayan, a  protest march to dramatize their frustration over government’s failure to speed up the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER). The term “Lakbayan” merges the Filipino words for journey (lakbay) and country (bayan).

From the pier, they marched to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) central office in Quezon City where they will set up camp along with farmers from other provinces.

With the government of President Benigno Aquino III focused on the impeachment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, the agrarian reform program has taken a back seat, said farmers in Negros Occidental.

They said the CARPER law  is not being implemented efficiently, despite its approaching deadline in 2014. Statistics show that the Department of Agrarian Reform in Region VI, has only accomplished 5 percent of its target, having distributed only 1,151 out of 23,323 hectares to farmer-beneficiaries, despite getting one of the biggest chunks from the agrarian funds.

Among those who took part in the Lakbayan protest are farmers from Hacienda Canaan and Hacienda Teresa in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental who earn a measly P200 a day for the backbreaking work of cutting and harvesting sugarcane, and loading them onto trucks. They converged last Monday for a three-day march to Bacolod City. A contingent from that group proceeded to Manila.

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