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Feature: Humabol at 12 - running after dream of economic liberation

by Rey Anthony Chiu

Tagbilaran City (20 October) -- FACED with what they insist as a tangible threat in their perception of a systematic neutralization of vocal militants criticizing the government for failure to implement reforms, Hugpong sa mga Mag-uumang Bol-anon (Humabol) said the situation should ignite them to be even more avid in their demand for true emancipation from economic shackles.

Gathered at the Boy Scouts Headquarters Conference Hall for the 10th Farmers’ Provincial Congress after 12 years of existence, farmer municipal chapter leaders got re-oriented with the recent issues shared by their chapters and mapped out plans for the organization’s future directions and stands on issues.

Humabol Chairman William Boybanting, in an interview a day before the group elects new set of leaders said the group further strengthens its call for genuine land reforms amidst worsening economic crisis and what they consider as state terrorism.

Admitting that they have been on the other end of military harassments and abuses for “helping people advance their rights” Boybanting said their opposition to anti-farmer laws, decrees, programs and projects is part of the territory.

Mouthing his group’s position against the dams that failed to deliver the promised irrigation to their farm lands, Boybanting along with community organizer Walter Balonga said the water irrigation rentals have become an added burden for farmers who could not be contented with the use of the facility.

“We should be proud we produce the food that the country eats, but with the situation we are in now, there is practically nothing to be proud of,” Boybanting pointed out.

“Farmers are the ones producing food, but seldom are we seen that way. Many of our farmers are debt –ridden, the problem brought about by worsening economic crisis,” Boybanting said in Cebuano.

Until production is controlled by capitalists, until the government implements the genuine land reform, retake the areas set aside for oil plantations, amend protected areas and open up sustainable agriculture, then farmers could be mired eternally in poverty, he said.

Boybanting was especially vocal against proclamations over protected areas that shrink farmer’s access to arable lands and marine protected areas that restrict fishermen’s access to the sea.

Asked about his reactions on the economic miracle that the province has achieved with eco-cultural tourism, he said the poor farmers have yet to see food on their tables to feel the easing up of life here. Finally he laments the kind of tourism that limits the farmer’s agricultural lands when there were declared tourism areas. (PIA) [top]

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