On October 8, 2017, around 100 farmers from groups Bukidnon Free Farmers and Agricultural Laborers Organization (BUFFALO), Tried Agricultural Movers Association of Rural Active Workers (TAMARAW), and the Landless Tillers Inhabitants of Musuan (LIMUS)—collectively known as BTL—will camp out at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) X, in Macanhan, Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City. The overnight camp out will kick-off the “Baktas BTL: Fight for Land and Life!” wherein farmers and support groups will travel to Manila and erect camps in front of the DAR National Office at the Quezon City Memorial Circle for two weeks. BTL will start setting up camps at DAR Region 10 at 4:00pm.
Through the Baktas BTL, farmers aim to press the DAR to officially declare them as rightful owners of the BTL-tilled lands inside the Central Mindanao University (CMU). The Baktas BTL will hold series of dialogues, lobbying and awareness-raising activities at the national capital up to the peak of the National Peasant Month on October 25.
BTL farmers have been tilling the land ever since 1975, originally as CMU-hired farm workers used to maintain a school-managed rice field. When bankruptcy occurred, BTL farmers started to hold possession of the land they tilled after being denied of their basic rights including just compensation. Throughout changes in the administration of CMU, they were able to stay and fight for the land because of their collective assertion. CMU claims it suffered budget cuts, and leased its lands to agribusinesses at the expense of the farmers. BTL farmers, in return, assert that CMU should not use the agricultural land for income generation and should unite with the farmers to call for a higher state subsidy for education.
On October 9, groups will hold a send-off activity at the DAR Regional office X before leaving for Manila.