June 7, 2012
Manila, Philippines -- The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas or Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP) and the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) is calling the national offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) including the House of Representatives for an impartial investigation on the land grabbing and harassments by Nakeen Corporation’s palm oil plantation, a subsidiary of the A. Brown Company, Inc. in Opol, Misamis Oriental.
The group questioned the conclusion of the Provincial Board meeting conducted on June 4, 2012 stating that there is no land grabbing, human rights violations and environmental issues in Opol regarding the entry and operation of the Nakeen Corporation.
“We reiterate the veracity of the report of the International Fact Finding Mission (IFFM) held on May 6-7, 2012. The firm has no legal right over a 520- hectare property in Opol. The firm displaced many Higaonon families and had violated human rights of the Higaonons, including shooting and illegal arrest of farmers, burning of houses, uprooting of crops, harassment, and death threats,” remarked Antonio Flores, KMP spokesperson and a member of the IFFM team. Please check the IFFM key findings at www.asianpeasant.org
The farmer leader said, “We had documented that the toxic pesticides Carbofuran and Glyphosate are being used in the palm oil plantation. We also documented an increase in the incidence of cough, colds, skin disease and diarrhea since the company started spraying the pesticides. Additionally, the banana and coconut trees that were not uprooted but stood near the plantation have stopped bearing fruits.”
The group said that during their meeting with DENR officials on May 9, 2012, Joey Austria, chief of the Indigenous Community Affairs Office, said A. Brown was using a forest Land agreement granted by the government to Victor Paras. He said the agreement was cancelled on March 4, 2011--meaning, the company cannot operate in the area without a permit.
“We call on the DENR that the ‘lapses’ in the requirements of A. Brown that the PENRO admitted during the meeting on June 4, 2012 should be given attention. That ‘lapses’ actually started the problem. We appeal on the national agencies concerned, to open their eyes and hear the voice of the affected people in Opol,” stated Rahmat Ajiguna, APC deputy secretary general, also a member of the IFFM team.
“We condemn the moro-moro meeting on June 4 facilitated by Mayor Dexter Yasay. The meeting had shown biased to the Palm Oil firm by giving their representatives more time to speak while the affected Opol people where cut from talking because they said that there is not enough time ,” ended Rahmat.
Flores stressed that, “We demand for the pull-out of A. Brown from Opol and the immediate return of the indigenous peoples to their ancestral land. We call on the Philippine government to stop land use conversion and implement genuine land reform. We demand justice for the victims of human rights violations in Opol.”
The IFFM conducted was led by the Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP), Asian Peasant Coalition, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization, Sentro Kitanglad, and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines. #
ANTONIO FLORES, KMP Spokesperson
RAHMAT AJIGUNA, APC Deputy Secretary General