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PIA Press Release

Housing, mining project, others may defeat food production initiatives

By Alice Nicart

Borongan City (19 July) -- "Only President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo could have converted some agricultural lands in Eastern Samar into housing projects and the like, upon the recommendation of DENR".

Thus said Department of Agrarian Reform Officer (DAR) Labor Legal Officer, Antonio Belizar in an interview.

Belizar was referring to some agricultural lands which are now laden with concrete fixtures; housing, residential and cockpits instead of having them planted with fruit bearing or any agricultural crop.

Now that, President Arroyo has ruled "to stop land conversions in order to increase food production", local developers, businessmen even philanthropists will think twice.

Belizar was specific to report about a certain five-hectare Gawad Kalinga (GK) project in Salcedo town. He said that the land which is potential for coco-plantation is subject for "land ownership" distribution to landless farmers; but since it has been converted into a housing village by a former town official, DAR has filed a case and the project proponents are now being subject to criminal prosecution.

Similarly, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform (CARP) project of the government is now in conflict with three Mining Firms which Belizar said are into operating Coal and Chromite mining in Salcedo, but same is illegal and prohibited, Belizar insisted. The miners are about to encroach into the 241 hectares of agriculturally classified land of Salcedo which involves some 200 farmers. But the DAR officer said they are in a dilemma because some farmers are being lured with the color of money.

Asked if President Arroyo has been informed about the issue, Belizar said, perhaps it is yet with the Regional level, but he is certain, the President will not be pleased about it because her intent now is for the country to achieve sufficiency in food supply through increased agricultural production. (PIA-Eastern Samar) [top]

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