Focus on the Global South and Save Agrarian Reform Alliance (SARA) are launching a documentary series on agrarian reform and land rights, dubbed, “Standing on Contentious Grounds: Stories of Hope, Struggle, and Resistance”. The series aims to document land reform, land rights struggles, and post-land distribution accounts that have yet to find successful endings but can already show better beginnings for farmer-beneficiaries.  The first of this series of accounts/stories was about the farmers at Hacienda Luisita and their post-land distribution situation. The second stop, featured through two video documentations, is at Hacienda Dolores, Porac, Pampanga, an agrarian hotspot and scene of land grabbing and various human rights violations by one of the biggest conglomerates in the country. “Agaw Lupa” (Land Grab) tackles the woes and demands of the residents and farmers of the Hacienda and “Hustisya” (Justice)  focuses on human rights violations, in particular the criminalization of dissent and killing of farmer leaders in the area in the last two years.

The third and fourth of the series feature the plight of landless farmers in Bataan. Bataan is a peninsula located in the western part of Luzon that borders the South China Sea on its west, Manila Bay on its south and east, and the provinces of Pampanga and Zambales on the north. While an export processing zone is located in one of its towns, Bataan remains an agricultural province and a site of land rights struggles. The two videos highlight cases of land use conversions. As of December 2013, the Department of Agrarian Reform, the main agency tasked to implement a nationwide agrarian reform program, reported that 2,063 hectares of agricultural lands were approved for land use conversions. This is more than one-fourth of the total approved applications for land conversions in Region 3; and five percent of the total area of farms in the province of Bataan.

In “Until When Shall We Wait?,” the farmers belonging to Alyansa ng Maliliit na Magbubukid sa Bataan (Alliance of Small Farmers in Bataan) and Kaisahan ng Maliliit na Magsasaka(Unity of Small Farmers) narrate the protracted, slow, and ineffective implementation of agrarian reform in their village—Brgy. Capitangan in Abucay, a third class municipality 113 kilometers from Metro Manila. The farmers are claiming the 134 hectares of lands (formerly Tomzen Realty), which was set to be distributed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The landholding was re-classified as non-agricultural by the Local Government of Abucay and allegedly sold to Janghun Corporation, a South Korean company that plans to convert the lands into a retirement resort. Underpinning their story is one of the main problems in the implementation of CARP: the power of the local governments to reclassify lands, which becomes a tool to circumvent agrarian reform.

Fenced in, Fenced Out” tells the story of the roiling conflict between the farmers and residents of Brgy. (village) Sumalo in the town of Hermosa and Riverforest Development Corporation, a real estate company owned by the affluent Litton family of Forbes Park. The contestation involves 214 hectares of land that are up for land distribution under CARP. The video also describes the community’s struggle for land, food, and peaceful living amid the conflict.

Here are the video links:

Until When Shall we Wait? The Struggle of Farmers in Abucay, Bataan.


Fenced in, Fenced Out: The Struggle for Food, Land and Survival