ORMOC CITY- Tired but obviously happy was how the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in Barangay Sumanga looked as they savor their first harvest of sugarcane within the 17.5-hectare landawarded to them under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) 21 years ago.
“Masaya kami dahil may income na kami. May pambayad na salupa, at matutupad na ang pangarap ng anak ko na makapagtapos ng pag-aaral.” (We are happy because we now have income. We can now pay land amortization, and my child’s dream to get a college degree will already be realized.) These were the words of Pablo Silva, 55, one of the 24 ARBs and president of the Sumanga United Farmers Association (SUFA) during the interview on March 8.
Municipal Agrarian Reform Program Officer (MARPO) Perpetua Sabaldan who takes charge of installation activities in Leyte, explained that the 17.5 hectares are just part of the 35-hectare property previously owned by the Potenciano and Anecita Larrazabal Enterprises Corporation (PALEC) that was awarded to SUFA.
According to her, 12 hectares of which were planted to root crops by the ARBs.
Their journey as ARBs was not smooth. They were blocked from entering the property by the previous landowner who resisted coverage of the lot under CARP.
Pablo and the 23 other ARBs waited for 19 years to be installed in their awarded land, and two more years before they were able to harvest in the land that was already theirs 21 years ago.
He narrated that after several attempts, they were successfully installed on June 20, 2016 with the combined efforts of officials from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR); KAISAHAN, a non-government organization assisting them; and the Philippine National Police.
But the previous landowner bargained during the dialogue to allow them to harvest first the existing crop for they were the ones who planted them. After the harvest, the previous landowner surrendered the land to the ARBs as promised during the said dialogue.
Pablo shared that during Tuesday’s harvestthey are expecting about 15 truckloads of freshly harvested sugarcane with an estimated net income of P14,000 for every truckload.
As it takes about 12 months for this crop before it could be harvested, the ARBs had to wait until the current year to experience the complete success of their struggle.
However, Wowie Silva, 21, who helps his father, Pablo, in farming said it could have been better if the trucks that would transport the harvested sugarcane to the sugar central can enter the area for fast and easy hauling.
Wowie disclosed that trucks can no longer enter their area because the road leading here is privately owned by the previous landowner and the latter dug a big hole along the way preventing trucks from passing by.
Because of this according to him, the men have to carry on their shoulders the harvested sugarcane for a distance of about a kilometer where trucks can wait.
Though this is no longer a big deal to Pablo, still he appeals to concerned sectors to help them have an access road.(JOSE ALSMITH L. SORIA/PR)