The National Federation of Sugar Workers held a rally yesterday in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform-Negros Island Region office in Bacolod City to demand immediate action on their bid to revoke the Joint Venture Agreement with ECJ Farms in southern Negros Occidental.
The rally was held in time for today's celebration of the 29 th Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program anniversary, and the birthday Eduardo “Danding” Cojuanco Jr., the owner of ECJ Farms.
“We are calling to speed up the processing of our complaint at DAR's Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance on revoking the JVA of the farmers,” John Milton Lozande, NFSW secretary general, said.
Lozande said they want to re-document and review all the proceedings during the signing of theJVA in 2004, adding that ECJ did not comply with the requirements for the agreement.
DAR-NIR Regional Director Stephen Leonidas said the DAR central office is still deliberatingon the complaint they filed through the National Agribusiness Venture Agreements Evaluation Committee.
“We don't have authorityat the provincial level to decide on this, but deliberation has been going on in the national office since two weeks ago,” Leonidas said.
If NAEC approves the complaint of theNFSW, it will be passed on the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council to decide on whether the JVA will be revoked or not, he added.
There were around 200 farmers who participated in the rally who are members of ECJ Farmers and Farm Workers Alliance in Negros (EFFWAN), NFSW, and Kilusang Mambubukid ng Pilipinas.
Lozande said they also held a camp-out at the DAR-South Negros office on Thursday, adding that this will be a series of activities until October this year or until a decision is made by the agrarian agency.
He also said that if the evidence against ECJ about the violation of JVA is strong, PARC will decide to distribute the lands of ECJ farms to the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries.
In their rally NFSW also asked for relief assistance from the government to local sugar workers as “tiempos muertos” or the dead season in sugarcane production is starting this month. *MLG
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