Tagum City, Davao del Norte – Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao today lauded the sucessful installation of 159 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) under the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. (MARBAI) on the 145-hectares of land located in Brgy. San Isidro, Tagum City that was heavily fortified by Lapanday Foods Corp. with the deployment of more than a battalion-size private armed guards. This was after the repeated attempts of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) last month to install them that was thwarted by Lapanday.
“With the strong unity, collective, militant and incessant action of the farmers, the DAR, the Office of the President, various sectors will surely express their support and join their struggle until triumph,” Casilao said during an interview at the site.
Anakpawis and the Makabayan Coalition have been supporting the MARBAI farmers since last year, when they filed House Resolution No.634 that called a probe on the December 12 shooting of farmers by the armed guards of Lapanday. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez also filed House Resolution No. 687 on the said incident. It was referred to the Committee on Human Rights and its next hearing is scheduled for May 31. Casilao also facilitated the dialogue with President Rodrigo Duterte that led to his visit at the Mendiola camp-out last May 9 where he promised support of their cause.
Casilao also recognized the swift action of DAR Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano and expressed his eagerness to witness another major pro-farmer decision from the cabinet secretary.
“There are many pending agrarian cases at the DAR but Ka Paeng’s decisions are of crucial importance as it manifest that real change, that the poor could actually benefit from, under the Duterte administration,” Casilao said.
However, the lawmaker expressed concern that the threat from Lapanday remains, thus, his urging of the farmers to stay vigilant. He said that Lapanday is known to organize private armed groups to protect their landlord interests in Mindanao.
“MARBAI farmers need all the support they can get from various sectors, especially in calling for justice and against the threat from the Lorenzos,” he said.
Lastly, Casilao expressed appreciation of President Duterte’s support that contributed to the successful installation of the ARBs. ###