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Farmers decry conversion of cattle ranches to plantations

Posted by Abi Kwok on August 11, 2008

By Abigail Kwok
First Posted 14:32:00 08/11/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Farmers trooped to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Quezon City on Monday to urge Secretary Jose Atienza to revoke lease agreements for some 3,000 hectares of cattle ranches in Bukidnon.

Armed with guitars and banners, the protesters “serenaded” Atienza, who is celebrating his 67th birthday.

The members of the group Alyansa-Task Force Mapalad (TFM) asked Atienza to revoke the Forest Land Grazing Lease Agreements (FLGLAs) between the DENR and Bukidnon ranch owners who the farmers claimed “have grossly violated the contracts by converting the timberland into agri-business plantations such as pineapple, sugarcane and jathropa production.”

“On [Atienza’s] birthday, we wish him to have a vision for the poor. Being the head of the government’s environment office, may he be an instrument in our effort to have access and security over the land,” the farmers’ spokesperson, Mary Jane Neri.

Neri said farmers from Bukidnon are allegedly experiencing food shortages because of the conversion of grazing lands to crop plantations.

“If pro-poor programs are the centerpiece of DENR, we are hopeful that Secretary Atienza will prioritize our CBFM proposal,” Neri said.

Farmers remain camped out of the DENR office in Quezon City to consult with Atienza.


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