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Farmers accuse Aquino kin of ‘land-grabbing’ in Pangasinan

THE Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Wednesday assailed the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Realty Corp. (CAT Realty), a company owned by the Cojuangco family, for threatening farmers with eviction from the more than 289-hectare Camp Gregg Military Reservation in Bayambang, Pangasinan.

KMP Vice Chairman Joseph Canlas said farmers occupying a portion of Camp Gregg received a demand letter from the Cojuangco family-owned CAT Realty, reminding them to pay their land rental amounting to P100,000 or face eviction.

Canlas said this act by the Cojuangcos is a clear case of land-grabbing.

He said the Cojuangco family’s alleged land-grabbing started as early as the 1960s.

He said farmers who have been planting within the military reservation were forced to leave the land or pay land rent, while those who opposed were “harassed, threatened or intimidated.”

Today, Canlas said, the Cojuangcos are making use of the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) to strengthen control over Camp Gregg lands.

He said that on Sept. 17, 2010, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Provincial Agrarian Reform Office in Pangasinan issued a notice of coverage to CAT Realty, thus “legitimizing the illegal claim of the President’s relatives over the land.”

A year after, on Sept. 20, 2011, President Aquino himself issued Proclamation 262 reserving parcels of lands of Barangay Zone 6 inside Camp Gregg as a housing site for the Philippine National Police.

Canlas said President Aquino’s proclamation segregating barangay Zone 6 inside Camp Gregg for a so-called housing project of the PNP smacks of land-grabbing and conflict of interest.

 “Just like the 81-hectare Hacienda Luisita-SCTEx [Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway] anomaly, CAT Realty will surely sell the land to the government,” the KMP leader said.

“While these buy-and-sell transactions between the Mr. Aquino administration and his family are happening, Camp Gregg farmers are receiving demand letters from CAT Realty collecting land rent from them,” Canlas said.

The DAR’s notice of coverage, Mr. Aquino’s proclamation and the CAT Realty’s demand letters are aimed to strengthen and legitimize the President’s family’s control and evict the farmers from Camp Gregg lands. 

(With Marvyn Benaning)

 

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