11 Jun 2012

A Farming Couple Remains Steadfast in Protecting their Land

KAISAHAN's Area-Specific Development Program (ASDP) aims to assist farmers and empower organizations towards rural development.

Although this program has been proven effective over time, it remains that the partners' contribution to ASDP and their ownership of the program is crucial to its success.

The couple Amelito and Saturnina Aragon, farmer-beneficiaries residing in Barangay Curva in Ormoc City, have been unwavering in protecting their land from the time they received their Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) in 1994. Their story tells of the collective effort not only from the organization they belong but also of their own family could scuttle harassments and hardships.

There were countless tactics used by the former landowner to discourage the Aragons from possessing and enjoying their land. The first attempt of the couple to install themselves in September 1997 proved unsuccessful. The landowner demanded, at that time, an order from the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office's (PARO) which the Aragons were not able to produce.

The Aragons thought they had heaved a sigh of relief in their second attempt as they were able to start cultivating their land planting palay and vegetables. But another form of harassment took shape with the former landowner ordering other farmers tilling nearby to harvest their crops. Things turned even worse when their makeshift house was dismantled. Even supporters of the Aragons were not spared such as case of the former Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer, their main ally, who was beaten up by the landowners' cohorts.

Even with the different forms of harassments employed by the landowner, the couple refused to give up the land awarded to them. Enjoying immense support from their farmers' association and the federation of peoples' organization called KAMAO, the couple strengthened their own capacities to prepare for the long struggle by immersing in paralegal trainings, participating in tactic sessions, and taking part in dialogues. With increased awareness, the couple was prepared to dish out their own strategies to the landowner's tactics.

To make their story known with the goal of inspiring fellow farmers in their own struggles, the couple utilized the media by bringing in reporters during actual installations and updating reporters of their status. They also documented their story to be readily shared to other local newspapers and publications.

Amelito and Saturnina are now reaping the benefits of being steadfast in fighting for their land. Before, they used to depend on selling peanuts each day which barely provided for their food. At present, by cultivating their own land, they are now able finance the educational needs of their three children. Even with these victories, the couple admits that they will not become complacent. They believe, that in some form, they can act as an instrument to help other families to safely and happily enjoy their land.


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