Reclaiming our lands amidst the pandemic
By Maricel Almojuela-Tolentino, Project Development Officer Ormoc-Kananga Leyte Farmers Federation (ORKALEFF)
It has been 22 years since the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) in Ormoc and Kananga, Leyte was handed over their land titles, issued under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme (CARP). But with strong landowners’ resistance and the inadequacy of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the rightsholders were prevented to take physical possession of the land and enjoy their rights as new landowners. It was only recently that the DAR actively resumed installing these rightsholders when they organised themselves and exerted pressure for their immediate installation to their land.
Through the Sudden Opportunity grant, the Ormoc-Kananga Leyte Farmers Federation (ORKALEFF), a provincial federation of men and women farmers who are mostly ageing, were supported in their journey to finally reclaim their lands. The project strengthened the capacity of the rightsholders on land rights, negotiation, and campaigns, among others and provided guidance on how to comply with installation requirements. Today, 107 ARBs are cultivating their land and participating in ‘Farmers in Transition Training’, where they undergo farm and organisational development activities to ensure the continuity and sustainability of this significant progress.
One of their key learnings and realisations, especially amidst the pandemic, is that their commitment, confidence and resolve to end landlessness did not waver but only grew stronger. The journey was indeed long but definitely inspiring and it is with such unwavering courage that they carry on with louder voices. Let us hear these voices through the video messages below by ORKALEFF