‘Hired goons’ continue their Hacienda Yulo alleged demolition derby, with more homes destroyed and more farmers harassed.
Hacienda Yulo sees a second wave of attacks from ‘hired goons’ of the Yulo clan and the Ayala Corporation. This was only the latest development in a decades-long battle against institutionalized land grabbing and land use conversion, and the most recent among a barrage that began in early January (READ: Several Hacienda Yulo homes wrecked, residents fired on by armed men).
Yulo farmers and residents themselves have been calling for land reform in Hacienda Yulo and against institutionalized land grabbing and land use conversion since the 90s.
For farmer and resident Shirley Marasigan, she had to witness two goons drawing their guns on her two daughters’ heads and forcing them to lie on the ground. One of the men had a gasoline container and the other took their cell phone.
“[…] walang awa nilang binuhusan ang loob ng aking pamamahay ng dalawang galong gasolina. Nakiusap ako sakanila na baka pwede po kaming maglabas ng gamit, kahit damit lamang po. Hindi sila pumayag sabay duro samin at sumigaw ang isang lalaki ng ‘labas, dapa!’” Marasigan recalled.
Resident and Samahan ng mga Magsasakang Nagkakaisa sa Buntog (SAMANA-Buntog) member Jojo De Leon recalled his experience in a press conference held with Defend Yulo Farmers.
“Noong Janaury 26 sa bahay namin, nagpunta ang mga goons — trenta  katao — kasama ang Seraph Agency. Nakita ko ang mga kapatid ko, pinsan, at mga taga-roon, ay anim po ang binugbog nila,” De Leon said.
De Leon was among the many residents who had to witness his home be burned to a crisp last January 19. In the words of Defend Yulo Farmers, De Leon was shown no mercy as the items he salvaged were destroyed by the men.
He also referenced how armed forced barred relief volunteers from providing aid to the affected farmers.
“Noong February 2, nagtangka po ang mga taong simbahan na magdala ng relief. Gutom na po ang mga mamamayan sa Sitio Buntog. Hanggang nagyon ay hirap na hirap magdala ng pagakain doon dahil hinaharang nila ang pagkain,” De Leon said.
This referred to a relief goods team composed of 18 church workers who were on their way to the Hacienda Yulo community of Sitio Buntog, Brgy. Canlubang in Calamba.Tanggol Magsasaka Timog Katagalugan explained that the 18 only sought to provide food and assistance to the farmers and residents, but a food blockade from the guards barred them from going any further.
De Leon, revealed by Defend Yulo Farmers to be the farmer who had his hand crushed by a gate’s closing in the dialogue with the Calamba municipality last Mendiola Massacre commemoration, concluded that it was difficult for all of them to accept what they have been struggling against, emphasizing how the ordeals have left the farmers traumatized (READ: Dalawang bahay ng mga magsasaka, sinunog ng mga goons isang araw pagkatapos makipagdiyalogo).
“Mahirap po na tanggapin na ganoon ang mga ginagawa sa’min. Ang hirap. Nagugutom po ang mga mamamayan doon. Sana po tulungan niyo kami,” he pleaded.
After the recent demolitions, arson cases, and roadblocks experienced by the residents days before the 26th of January, six Hacienda Yulo residents were reportedly flogged and severely injured by guards of the same agency led by someone with the alias of “Kamatayan.”
Aside from residents Pedro Mangubat, Hermie de Leon, Chris Laurel, William Caranay, and Florencio Masongsong, some other women and even a minor were said to have been beaten.
This incident led to Bokal Lajara and several farmers heading to the Regional Trial Court in Calamba, Laguna to file a case against the attacks and the worsening situations of the residents and farmers in Yulo two days after. Not long after, the farmers initiated a dialogue with Cong. Ruth Hernandez to look into matters.
Far from quiet in the homefront
SAMANA-Buntog spokesperson Leo Mangubat saw his own house be torn to the ground around 3 PM last February 2, with the men, said to be elements of the Seraph Security Agency, allegedly also trashing Mangubat’s own mother’s home while she, her niece, and her brother were inside.
“Ang lupa naming sinasaka ay unti-unting nawawala. Mariin namin itong tinututulan sa kadahilanang ang lupa ay siya naming buhay. Kung saan halos ng taga-Buntog ay dito kumukuha ng ikabubuhay na ipinagtapos nila sa kanilang mga anak,” Mangubat said in a press conference, adding that the men threatened to reduce what is left of his home to rubble.
Mangubat also mentioned the Terror Law factors in how farmers like them ended up openly being harassed and mistreated.
“Tinututulan din namin ang Anti-Terror Law na kung saan ito ay bahagi lamang ng pagsikil ng mamamayan at sambayanang Pilipino, lalong-lalo na sa magsasaka na pinapatay unti-unti ng mga pulitiko. Alam namin namaraming magdurusa, maghihirap at mamamatay,” Mangubat exclaimed.
WATCH: #DefendYuloFarmers special coverage of [P] Live’s Today Rundown (January 30, 2021)
Defend Yulo Farmers coordinator Justin Umali said that this barrage of attacks was an assault on basic human rights.
“Ito ay malinaw na walang awang paglabag sa karapatang pantao ng mga magsasakang pinupwersang palayasin sa lupang kinagisnan at sakahan na bumuhay sa kanila at mga pamilya nila upang mapailalim sa Land Use Conversion ng walang kabusugang mga Ayala,”
In a later [P] Live interview, Umali alleged that these incidents are connected to a development project from the Ayala Corporation.
“Connected ito sa development project ng Ayala. Hindi maayos ang legal basis tulad ng walang clear na development permit. Minamadali ang development para po kung ano ang maging desisyon ng DAR, ay inconsequential na po siya,” Umali explained, noting that the Calamba municipality has been silent in the issues even after Yulo farmers have attempted to reach Mayor Timmy Chipeco in January 12 then 22.
There are reportedly four remaining homes in the upper part of the Hacienda that are eyed for demolition by Yulo and Ayala. After which, other residences in the said area such as the Bangyas homes are said to be their next target, as per an update from Defend Yulo Farmers.
In response to these incidents, Makabayan Bloc filed House Resolution No.1509, pushing for an investigation on the violence in Hacienda Yulo.
As of press time, the local government unit of Calamba and Seraph Security Agency, Inc. are yet to comment on the Perspective’s inquiries.
Donation outlets for Yulo farmers and residents are still open and can be visited through the official facebook page of Defend Yulo Farmers. [P]
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