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PIA Press Release

Protesting Sumilao farmers reach Tacloban

Tacloban City (October 31) -- After walking for twenty days, the protesting Higaonon farmers from Sumilao, Bukidnon arrived in Tacloban in the afternoon of October 30, taking refuge for a night's sleep at the Redemptorist Church.

Upon arrival at the Redemptorist Church, the farmers who are on a 60-day protest march to Manila, took time out to hear mass. By their looks, one could see the exhaustion from the long walk under sunny and rainy weather, but their enthusiasm and strong desire to really reach Manila are very much apparent.

The protesting Higaonon farmers from Sumilao, Bukidnon started the Visayas-leg of their 60-day protest march to Manila on Wednesday, October 25, arriving in Liloan. The Visayas leg will last for 16 days.

According to the protesting farmers, their protest march seeks to dramatize the farmers' 10-year clamor for ownership of the 144-hectare Quisumbing Estate which they claim form part of their ancestral land.

They are going to Manila to request President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to intercede for them. In 1995, the farmers were issued a certificate of land ownership award over the estate but Malacanang later canceled the CLOA.

Information received by the Philippine Information Agency stated that the farmers are also advocating the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform program which is supposed to expire next year.

Verified information has it that the farmers who were originally 54 when they left San Vicente Village at about 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon of October 10. are now down to 51 when their medical support team decided not to let Sonia Bayo and Dote Agustin to continue with the walk.

A week of walking had taken physical toll on the two marchers with Agustin suffering from recurrent fever while Bayo, with recurring stomach pains and vomiting. Agustin's wife, Emerita Buclasan, was forced to return to Bukidnon to attend to her sick husband.

On October 29, one of the protesting farmers who was identified as Ms. Merida, was hospitalized at the Leyte Provincial Hospital because of stomach pain and is still confined at the same hospital.

Mayor Roque Tiu of Tanauan, Leyte who is the president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, Leyte Chapter, informed the Philippine Information Agency that the he was requested to send the Tanauan Ambulance to Mayorga, Leyte, about 30 minutes away from Tanauan, to transport the lady Sumilao farmer who collapsed in Mayorga, while walking from Abuyog towards Dulag and Tolosa.

Department of Agrarian Reform Assistant Regional Director Antonio Tan said that the same lady farmer was given dextrose at the Abuyog District Hospital last night. The protesting farmers, according to ARD Tan slept in Tolosa last night.

Today, the protesting Sumilao farmers continued their walk, stopping only at the Assumption Academy in Tanauan to take their lunch. They then continued their walk braving the intermittent rains going to Tacloban.

It was learned that the protesting marchers are not without the necessary assistance because they have a medical team accompanying them. It was also learned that they have the full assistance of the Philippine National Police, the AFP, the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Church, to see to it that nothing untoward will happen to the farmers. (PIA 8) [top]

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