Land grabbing at Hacienda Looc blame Henry Sy of SM Land, Int’l groups said

Monday 12 March 2012

MANILA, Philippines — Delegates of an international solidarity mission blame Henry Sy, owner of SM Land Inc. and the richest man in the country, of land grabbing at Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas.

The mission, composed of delegates from the United Church of Canada, Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA – Indonesia), researcher from Japan and Belgium, the Malaysia-based Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific, Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), Kasama-TK (Peasant Alliance in Southern Tagalog), Samahang Magbubukid sa Batangas (Peasant Alliance in Batangas), Farmers Development Center (Fardec) based in Central Visayas, Ibon International, Promotion for Church People’s Response and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), was held February 11 to 15.

“The land grabbing, land use conversions and large scale tourism projects resulted to landlessness and food insecurity. The biggest real estate developers in the country, such as the Fil-Estate, Manila South Coast Development Corporation (MSDC) and SM Land Inc., in collusion with various government agencies, have made their land grabbing activities appear legal and legitimate,” stated Danilo Ramos, KMP and APC secretary general.

Willy Marbella, KMP deputy secretary general, explained that “Government policies, including bogus agrarian reform programs like the Presidential Decree 27 and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), have denied Hacienda Looc farmers of their rights to the land. Real-estate developers, using the CARP itself, managed to exempt Hacienda Looc from agrarian reform.”

According to Armado Lemita, spokesperson of the Ugnayan ng Mamamayan Laban sa Pangwawasak ng Kalupaan sa Hacienda Looc (Umalpas-Ka), during the early part of the martial law regime, some 1,282.98 hectares of Hacienda Looc were placed under Presidential Decree No. 27. Emancipation patents (EP) were awarded to 831 farmer-beneficiaries.

“Although the sale and/or transfer of those lands covered by agrarian reform is strictly prohibited by law, legal maneuvers were done by land brokers and real estate developers to legitimately take back the rights of the farmers to till their land,” remarked Axel Pinpin of the KASAMA-TK.

Umalpas-Ka said both the Bellevue Properties Inc (BPI) and MSDC are owned by business tycoon Henry Sy of SM Land Inc. The SM Land Inc. has “developed” the coastal area of Barangay Papaya into Hamilo Coast, a leisure destination which features recreational activities.

Marbella revealed that in a dialogue with the officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform ( DAR) on February 16, they said that based on records, only 94 hectares of land have so far been approved for land-use conversion. “And SM Land Inc. is developing more than 5,000 hectares of land.”

In a public forum on Feb. 17, Ipang, a member of Indonesian peasant group Agra, said land-use conversion has affected the livelihood of farmers and fisherfolk.

“Testimonies in Barangay Bulihan stated that the people used to have enough food for their family. Before the MSDC came to the Hacienda Looc, its plains, valleys and mountainous areas are devoted to agriculture. The rice land can produce 70-100 cavans of palay (unhusked rice) per cropping and mostly the farmers can produce rice in two to three cropping seasons When they plant, they will have something to harvest but it’s difficult these days.,” said IPang of the Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA), a militant peasant group in Indonesia, during the public forum on February 17.

Marbella said that in a dialogue with DENR, the government agency vowed to conduct investigations on environmental compliance of developers.

The international groups that held the fact-finding mission has recommended a stop in the ongoing land-use conversion Hacienda Looc.

The recommendations of the ISM are as follows:

1. The local government has the primary responsibility to closely study or conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on whatever applications of reclassification and conversion amidst the existence of Executive Order (EO 647) and Presidential Proclamation (PP) 1520.

2. Conduct series of dialogues to address the issues and concerns affecting the farmers and fisher folks.

3. Provide us documents like comprehensive land use plan of Nasugbu, reclassification ordinance of 1,219 hectare farmlands, among others.

4. Passage of an ordinance protecting the farmers, fisher folks and communities from threats, harassments and intimidations of security forces specifically on the land they till and occupy. More so, an ordinance protecting communities from any military and civil- military operations and making or using public structures and private dwellings as military detachments.

5. Immediately conduct investigations and prosecute the security forces and 733rd CGPAF that commits grave human rights violations.

6. Stop land use conversions and large scale tourism projects on agricultural lands resulting to landlessness and food insecurity.

7. The DAR should conduct comprehensive review on the agrarian cases at Hacienda Looc and conduct dialogues with regards to the human rights violations perpetuated by the security forces, 733rd CGPAF, 16th IB and Philippine Air Force.

8. The DENR should immediately investigate and stop the infrastructure and eco-tourism project of Fil-Estate, MSDC, SM Land Inc., Megaworld and other developer in Hacienda Looc.

9. Recognize the rights of the farmers to own the land they have been cultivating for more than three decades and implement genuine land reform program.

For complete details of the executive summary report, click on the attachment below:

PDF - 173.8 kb

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