“We will defend the land” — MARBAI farmers

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the successful installation of farmers belonging to the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (MARBAI) in Tagum, Davao del Norte is an assertion of social justice against years of landgrabbing and exploitation committed by Lapanday Foods Corp. against agrarian reform beneficiaries.

“This is living proof that we could only achieve our just demands through militant and collective action. We will remain determined in defending the land,” said Antonio Tuyak, spokesperson of MARBAI.

MARBAI farmers, their families and more than 5,000 supporters from different peasant and peoples organizations in Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley, through the assistance of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the inter-agency Task Force, opened the gates of Lapanday and entered the plantation at 11:00AM.

“The installation starts with the actual occupation of the land, followed by the assertion to control and hold firm the 145-hectares of lands grabbed by the Lorenzo family-owned Lapanday Foods Corp.,” said Antonio Flores. Farmers should have the control over the lands without any intervention and retaliation from Lapanday and its armed security,” the KMP leader said.

Despite Lapanday’s constant resistance, the third installation process successfully proceeded today as planned based on the agreements forged during the dialogue of farmers with President Rodrigo Duterte and the installation plan enforced by the inter-agency Task Force.

This morning, Lapanday maintained its security guards inside the locked premises of the banana plantation and refused to comply with the break open order issued by the Sheriff as ordered by DAR.

MARBAI farmers asserted and stood their ground until they were able to break open the gates and enter the plantation.

The 145-hectare of SANID farm area is part of the 6,000-hectares of lands acquired by Lapanday through onerous agribusiness venture arrangements (AVAs).

“There are more Marbai-Lapanday exploitative arrangements in Mindanao. We expect more ARBs to launch protests and resistance against AVAs and plantation lords,” Flores said. 

May 18 timeline of actual events:

11:00 – MARBAI members and their supporters entered the plantation premises and went to the 145-hectares SANID farm area

10:45 – The gates were opened

10:30 – The PNP team started clearing operations inside Lapanday compound

9:55: The Sheriff and the PNP personnel entered the Lapanday compound

9:50: Gates remain closed, security guards blocking the entrance

9:48 – Farmers on standby, getting ready to enter the compound

9:32 – Farmers position outside the Lapanday gates

9:26 – PNP prepared its personnel to lead in the opening of the gates

9:20 –Inter-agency Task Force started to enforce the Order to Break Open the gates of Lapanday

8:00-9:00AM – Program of Marbai farmers and thousands of supporters outside the Lapanday compound

7:20AM – March of farmers from the Madaum covered court to Lapanday compound

7:00AM – Orientation and assembly of MARBAI farmers and supporters

5:00AM – Arrival of supporters from different towns in Southenn Mindanao region