Return the Land of the Sumilao Farmers!

To President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo: In 1997, you visited farmers who staged a hunger strike demanding their rightful land that had been robbed off them by unscrupulous landlords. You may also remember that they had been granted 100 hectares by then President Ramos after twenty-eight days of hunger and public disapproval and enragement. This promise has not been fulfilled, Madam President. The same farmers have been living outside of their ancestral land, barred from cultivating their rightful land by electric fences and guns --- depriving them of livelihood, culture, and most of all, dignity. Furthermore, these \"landlords\"(if they may be called such) have transformed their ancestral land into cattle ranches, pineapple plantations, and now, piggery farms. This is the very same land where the Higaonon tribe performs their sacred rituals and prayer offerings. These apparent and evident violations of human rights, human dignity, and culture cannot be condoned. You have said: \"Because if government of the people and by the people is not for them as well, it is a mockery of democracy.\" What we see here, Madam President, is an obvious violation of the very principle you espouse. We greatly insist that the demands of the Sumilao Farmers be met and fulfilled this time around. Let us not wait for more generations of hunger and despair to persist in their families and in our country. Grant them their rightful land (the land of their ancestors, the land which have been theirs since time immemorial) and extend and reform the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL). Furthermore, we support the following specific calls of the farmers: * Executive Order Sec. Ermita: Revoke Land Conversion Order in 144-hectare Quisumbing-Danding estate *As PARC Head: Order Sec. Pangandaman to Issue notice of Coverage to SMC/Danding- bought 144 has. And immediately issue CLOA to rightful farmers * Certify as urgent legislation to Congress: Extend CARL and Reform implementation: Pass HB1257 The farmers will be marching on foot from October 9, in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of their hunger strike, to December 10, 2007 --- from Sumilao, Bukidnon to Manila. We trust that when they reach Manila, in time for Human Rights Day, our resounding demands will be granted. Sincerely, Your People

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