Oscar Maniego, provincial president of ALYANSA Bukidnon (Alliance of Landless Farmers and Rural Poor in Bukidnon), a group backed by task force Mapalad, said Thursday that the cancellation of the day`s appeal for at least 2,500 hectares of forests was for grazing. He said the state government should re-investigate alleged violations by the Fortich and Ocaya families in their forest land lease agreements (FLGLA) with DENR. On 14 May, farmers gathered outside DENR`s Cagayan de Oro regional office to express their views by brandishing a picket line and a sound barrier, Maniego said. Maniego said corazon Galinato, DENR`s regional technical director for forestry, had conducted a dialogue with farmers. However, he stated that Galinato had simply promised to report on his complaints to denr headquarters. Farmers have asked for the cancellation so that they can apply for a Community Agreement on Forest Management (CBFMA) or land reform on the affected areas. “Bukidnon is a province that owns thousands of hectares of agricultural land suitable for rice, maize and other staple foods, but which are still under the jurisdiction of DENR and waiting to be distributed to farmers,” the group said in a statement. ALYANSA Bukidnon said DENR should report Cesar and Michael Fortich`s FLGLAs and the Circle T Development Corporation (CITADECO), which manages the ranch of the late Governor Timoteo Ocaya, for serious breach of contract. They argued that DENR was allegedly tolerant of regulations that circumvented the agreement by allowing the transformation of FLGLA into FLGMA (or FLG administrative agreement) through a mandatory biophysical assessment. The group said they doubted, for example, that the 958-hectare Sitio Kiantig ranch, owned by Cesar Fortich, was actually devoted to sugar cane planting and livestock farming, which violated FLGLA`s No. 122. The group cited that, in a january 9, 2008 memorandum to the Under-Secretary of State for Field Operations, REGION X stated that it had inventoryed 194 head of animals, well below the agreed cattle herd, based on the contract in which a ranch that had been in existence for 10 years should have a ratio of one cattle per two hectares. They said the ranch should have 479 animals.
DENR also acknowledged that Fortich developed 137.17 hectares of sugar cane plantations inside the ranch, which far exceeded the 20-hectare ceiling specified in the contract, the group said in a press release. The group also described the land reform as covering the 65-hectare site within the 820-hectare Ocaya ranch. However, DENR has yet to transfer the country to the Ministry of Land Reform (DAR). The group wants DENR to adopt its recommendation to withdraw FROM CITADECO`s FLGLA No. 333 for non-compliance with its contractual credit obligations. The group also obtained the removal of FLGLA from Baclig Ranch and granting an application for management of the farmers` community forest at Villalon Ranch, all in Barangay Panalsalan, Maramag.