Tartaria farmers defend their land, resist entry of armed goons



MANILA — At least 60 armed personnel have been reportedly building fences in the farmlands of barangay Tartaria, Silang, Cavite since April 16, prompting farmers to defend their community.

Regional peasant group Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama TK) said that the armed personnel came from Jarton Security, which it claimed was hired by the Ayala and Aguinaldo clans. Both families have been trying to seize the land for years, despite the pending decision of the Supreme Court (SC) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on land ownership.

Kasama TK said that the Philippine National Police (PNP) intervened, but only to assist Jarton Security.

In response to the persistence of security personnel, the Tartaria farmers built a fence to protect their farm, only to be demolished by the armed personnel. At least one farmer was injured in the incident.

The local group of farmers and residents Samahan ng Magsasaka at Mamamayan ng Tartaria (Samata) said that they tried to ask the armed personnel through a document to leave in peace. However, they refused to sign.

“Ito ay nangangahulugan lamang na hindi sila seryoso at patuloy pa rin yung gagawin nila na pagbabakod sa mga hindi surrender. Kaya nagkampohan na kami sa lupa, andito pa rin yung mga tao, at ang tindig namin ay hindi kami aalis dito at patuloy kaming magbabantay,” a representative from SAMATA said.

(This means that they are not serious and they will be persistent in fencing off our lands. So we are camping here and we continue to stand our ground that we will not leave. We continue to watch them.)

This incident is not new to the farmers of Tartaria. In a 2021 report by Bulatlat, farmers and residents were struggling against land-grabbing for decades. They have also successfully formed barricades and resisted the attempts to demolish their homes.

Read: No Christmas gift for Tartaria farmers

Both Kasama TK and SAMATA recorded a separate incident of harassment by Jarton Security on April 3. They also reported that there were incidents of illegal intrusion into their homes.

Human rights group Karapatan Laguna said that the ongoing harassment and planned change in land use are blatant violations of the human rights of Tartaria farmers and residents.

Initially, the DAR approved 137 farmer-beneficiaries of Tartaria under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of former President Corazon Aquino. However, the Aguinaldo family contested the approval and later submitted appeals which were denied. It was only during the time of President Fidel V. Ramos that the decision was reversed, declaring the land as exempted from distribution.

“The slow action of the DAR in processing such cases of farmer struggles has also been condemned, allowing numerous incidents of harassment, intimidation, and threats against residents and farmers. The involvement of the PNP in harassment is unwarranted as it falls outside their jurisdiction,” Karapatan Laguna added. (RTS, RVO, DAA) (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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