AMGL said that Nueva Ecija is the top rice-producing province in the country, accounting for 1.37 million metric tons of 8.72% of the 2010 rice production, but lands are now being grabbed from farmers.
“Nueva Ecija farmers play a vital role in the country, supplying the much-needed rice supply of our people, but the Aquino government is now pushing for its anti-peasant programs that would definitely snatch away productive lands,” said Joseph Canlas, AMGL Chair.
“Based on Aquino’s promotion of PPP, Nueva Ecija is a site of the Central Luzon Expressway (CLEx) 1 and 2, the Northern Luzon East Expressway (NLEx East) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway 3 (SCTEx 3) towards Aurora, definitely these would convert hundreds of hectares of productive lands,” he added.
AMGL said that 28.2-km CLEx 1 and 35.7-km CLEx 2, would roughly convert 141 and 178.5 hectares of lands, respectively, the 92.1-km NLEx East would about 460.5-hectares. The 3 phases of expressway would cover an estimated 780-hectares of lands.
“The conversion of lands would certainly amplify as these projects would involved interchanges that totally displace farmers as what happened to the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx),” Canlas added.
“Nueva Ecija farmers would also be victims of land grabbing as what happened to the farmers of Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation when the road piercing through Laur towards the Aurora province was constructed,” he added.
In anticipation, farmers under AMGL - NE are now organizing their ranks to push local government units, district representatives and other government agencies to pass resolutions, ordinances or other legal measures to recognize their rights.
AMGL – NE reported that elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly the 81st Infantry Battalion under the 702nd Infantry Brigade and the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) units 1st Scout Rangers regiment, 1st Special Forces Regiment, Light Reaction Battalion are actively operating in the province.
“The military is operating in various towns such as Laur, Pantabangan, Carranglan, Guimba and more. These elements are harassing farmers and indigenous peoples who are cultivating lands,” Canlas said.
AMGL - NE said that the military operations continued during the period of their declared ceasefire last February, coinciding the peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Philippine government. Massive militarization is also conducted by the AFP on the indigenous people communities around Pantabangan dam. The Igorot people are also displaced by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to give way to a watershed project of Energy Development Corp. (EDC) and California Energy (CalEn). The military is also operating at communities inside the 3,100-hectare lands of Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) that has been under the supervision of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
”The military is clearing the way for Aquino’s projects and the privatization of the Pantabangan dam. The Aquino government has no plans of realizing genuine land reform in Nueva Ecija. Massive cancellations of Certificate of Land Transfer (CLT), Emancipation Patents (EP) and Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) are occuring in many towns of the province,” Canlas said.
“The only way to protect the rights of farmers is to actively oppose Aquino’s programs and projects, the farmers’ assertion of their rights, thus, we are preparing for a massive movement against grabbing of lands, dislocations and land use conversion,” he said. #