June 24, 2014
Philippines — The Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) is calling the Philippine
government to stop state-sponsored landgrabbing in Palawan covering 40,000
hectares of agricultural land. The APC joined eight other organizations in the
National Fact Finding and Solidarity Mission (NFFSM) held from 14th to
19th of June 2014 organized by the Katipunan ng Samahang
Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan or the Federation of Farmers’ Organizations in
Southern Tagalog (KASAMA-TK) and Anakpawis Partylist or Toiling Masses
Partylist-Southern Tagalog (Anakpawis-TK) in the disputed Yulo King Ranch (YKR) in Coron and Busuanga in Palawan. The KASAMA-TK is the
regional chapter of the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas or Peasant
Movement of the Philippines (KMP).
The mission aims to consolidate narratives of residents from
affected barangays (villages) to understand the history of the disputed land,
know the plight and demands of the affected residents and formulate actions
that will support and strengthen their rights to food, land and a dignified
The YKR, also known as Busuanga Pasture Reserve (BPR), which covers
39,238.93 hectares, is believed to be the largest agrarian anomaly in the
country, where 22,268 hectares are in Coron (or 32% of Coron’s total land area)
and the remaining 16,970.53 hectares are in Busuanga (covering 43% of
Busuanga’s total land area).
In 1975, former
president Ferdinand Marcos issued Proclamation No. 1387, declaring YKR as
pasture reserve. Marcos, through his cronies Luis Yulo and Peter Sabido,
acquired the disputed land using public funds. Residents interviewed claimed
that the “King” in YKR referred to Marcos.
Despite the heavy rains during the mission, the NFFSM team
conducted interviews among the residents at eight villages namely, Decalachao,
Guadalupe, San Jose, San Nicolas in Coron and Quezon, New Busuanga, Cheey and
Sto. Nino in Busuanga.
Of the 40,000
has. involved, 12,817 has. is categorized as Alienable and Disposable
Lands where 2,441 has. is privated or titled and the remaining 10,376 has. is
public land. According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
(DENR), 1,575 has of titled lands has been distributed under Department of
Agrarian Reform (DAR) through the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP)
and the remaining 866.5 has. had not been distributed. The 15,389.03 has. is
reserved as Public Forest and the remaining 11,032.28 has. is Unclassified Public Forest.
The APC said
that as early as 1930s, there were already ten to 15 farming
families who were tilling in the disputed land. In fact, they interviewed one
of the original residents who narrated that they were relatively
self-sufficient at that time. However, the Philippine Constabulary displaced
affected residents and they (farmers} were so afraid because it was Martial Law
The original settlers such as the Tagbanua, Calamianes and
Cuyonin were all the more displaced due to the landgrabbing.
But most of the residents of affected communities,
especially those who have been tilling the land before YKR came, returned to
the disputed land due to the lack of livelihood in the resettlement areas,
where lands are hardly suitable for agriculture. They also cited that they have
decided to return and till the lands again as YKR has left it idle
The missionteam concluded that this is a state-sponsored massive landgrabbing
case against the people of Coron and Busuanga. From Marcos’ Presidential Decree
No. 27 to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), which was first
implemented under President Corazon Aquino, the affected residents in Coron and
Busuanga remained landless and poor.
The mission is
calling for the passage of House Bill 252 or Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill
(GARB) sponsored by Anakpawis at the House of Reprsentatives. GARB seeks to break landlord control and
monopoly of lands through the nationalization and free distribution of lands to
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