Monday, December 24, 2007

Sumilao Wrap-up

The Sumilao framers finally reached San Vicente, Sumilao a little past 6PM. Members of the their families and town folks welcomed them home. As tears of joy and relief overwhelmed everyone, chants, cries and roars filled the air. Gari Lazaro who traveled with them shared the moment with me through a phone patch. I could almost see the happiness in those they left behind.

They landed in Cagayn de Oro aboard a C-130 of the Philippine Air Force. Later that night a celebration of sorts was held at the park for the farmers. Members of the clergy where also present along with other support groups who marched with them. NGOs promised to take them to Manila and they brought them home safe. (Picture courtesy of A Simple Life)

Amidst all the celebration, everyone can only look beyond the two rows of barbed wire which separated them from the land they long for, It was a mere ten steps from where they sat. So close and yet so far as the old adage goes. I can only imagine the longing they feel in their hearts. Now the long wait begins. The revocation of the conversion permit was a good Christmas gift. I just hope the the coming year will be the end of their decade old struggle.

As Christmas dawns on us, I would like to remind everyone that are still many more Filipinos who crave for land. The Sumilao farmers are fortunate to have the support of sectors who believed in their cause. I just hope that those in the same predicament are represented and given a voice just like the Sumilao farmers. The CARP is about to reach its end and there is still more work left to be done.

Most of the land distributed are government lands and some privately owned which were willingly handed over by their owners. But there are still several holdouts as the owners defy and circumvent the law. The CARP was conceived to address social justice. It is for social equity and not social equality. It was meant to give every Filipino an opportunity to improve their lives.

Sadly, our legislators did not perfect the law and opened it up to abuse. Instead of developing agriculture, they opened in to commercial big business. This led to displacement of farmers who ended up being poorer. One should not wonder why our legislators allowed this, they are the biggest landowners in the country. The land are not actually given out for free, the ARBs have to pay the government. The landowner is paid by the government but based on the productivity of the land.

I hope that the CARP be extended and implemented genuinely. This is the only way for it to really address social inequity. Its high time a greater number benefit from the land. Progress should not be limited to a handful but everyone should be allowed to live decently.

Now that this chapter of the plight of the Sumilao is over, another is about to start. I hope they finally get the justice that eluded them for so long. When they finally get it, I hope they cherish and treasure it. So many of them had given their lives and so many have sacrificed with them. I also pray that those who have no voice will be given one by those who believe that the right to live decently is not a monopoly of so few.

"Bloggers Call for Boycotting of Monterey/Purefoods Products in support of Sumilao farmers. This Christmas season, December 15, 2007 to January 2, 2008. Bring down the sales of San Miguel Food, Inc. to show public support to the farmers of Bukidnon who were denied of their 144 hectares of land. Please pass to all bloggers."

Bloggers' Voice Update:

Pedestrian Observer
AWB-Arbet Bernardo: Sumilao Sa Metro Manila
The Equalizer: Boss Danding
The Four-eyed Journal
Oddball by Mayor Jesse Robredo: Sumilao Walk
Manila Bay Watch
Loves an Ocean
Planet Naga
Postcard Headlines
The Antisocial
Thirty Thousand Fishes
The Citizen On Mars
Ellen Tordesillas
Gari Lazaro
Uniffors: On Patricia Evangelsita's Column
Ibangon Ang Bayan: Ang Makabagong Lumad
The Equalizer:Boycott SMC's Monterey Meat
Ang Sa Wari Ko
AWB-Arbet Bernardo: A Nation of Crackpots and Nuts
Viking: The Skeptical Subversive
Manila Bay Watch: Boycott San Miguel Products
Messages From Balatucan
AWB-Arbet Bernardo: Kababuyan
The Antisocial: So, Who's Afraid of the Lumads? The Same Plight
The Nutbox: Supports Boycott
Angela Stuart-Santiago
Kilometer 64
A Simple Life
Ang Sa Wari Ko: Sumilao farmers will be Merry this Christmas
You can show your support for the Sumilao Farmers here.