We were really confused when we first heard about us being agrarian reform beneficiaries. Through word of mouth, we got the news that the 4-hectare land was awarded to us by CARP. However, some farmers bullied us and discouraged us to get our awarded lands. They said that it does not rightfully belongs to us since they are in possession of the land since the 1980s. But the truth is, it was our parents who were the actual tillers during that time, and we took their place eventually. We were alarmed by their claims so we asked Inday, the chairperson of Dolores Farmers Women’s Association (DOFAWA), because she has an experience with land rights during her days with KAMAO.
Lucky enough, she later on got hired as an LTI officer of KAISAHAN, so we got immediately included in the list of beneficiaries to be assisted. With their help, we got installed even though the other farmers keep on blocking us.
They even attempted to block us during the installation day itself! Good thing, DAR was really helpful during that day. The farmers stepped back because we were with someone in authority. We also had a thanksgiving mass that day, so that probably helped.
But the other farmers did not stop blocking us even after we got installed. They filed cases against us saying the same things about us, and requesting to cancel our CLOAs. They also resorted to violence, because they threw small rocks at us while we were clearing the area. So, what we did is we put a fence around the area to keep the intruders out.
Lately, what kept us busy is dealing with the case. Luckily, KAISAHAN is there to assist us. Dealing with cases is new to us, and we did not know what to do. It is very tiring, but we are learning. Getting installed caused us cases, but it is better than having no land at all.
We (organization members) even got closer now, because they supported us with our case. We even give updates about it during our organization meeting. Discussing it becomes part of our monthly agenda. With that, we don’t feel alone because we have our whole organization backing us up.
The free legal assistance really helped us a lot, since we are just starting to earn income from our own land, we are still not capable to pay for our own lawyers. We are thankful that we have support now that we are starting to develop our land.
Words by: Ben Taneo, Norma Taneo, and Mary Moralde Chairperson and Members Dolores Farmers Association (DOLFA)