“There should be more of us doing this work (on helping farmers protect their land and human rights) and I hope this project will be replicated throughout the country.”
Vice President Leni Robredo made this call in a pre-recorded message at the online launching of the Dagyaw Negros para sa Duta project (Negros Solidarity for Land Rights) on Friday, June 11, a press release from the group said.
A known alternative lawyer and human rights defender, Robredo underscored the relevance and importance of establishing online legal helpdesks in Negros Occidental to promptly respond to the queries and grievances of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) with land and human rights issues.
The Dagyaw Negros project seeks to protect ARBs and other land rights defenders from human rights violations. It offers both mobile and online help desks, paralegal formation, a Toolkit and information materials to extend legal and advocacy support to land and human rights defenders primarily in Negros Occidental province. A protection fund and subgrant will also be made available for land rights defenders in the province who may face legal constraints and security issues in protecting land and human rights, the press release said.
The project is supported by the European Union Delegation in the Philippines under its European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights Country-based Support Scheme (EIDHR-CBSS). It is being implemented by non-government organization KaisahantungosaKaunlaran ng Kanayunan at RepormangPansakahan, Inc. in Negros Occidental from 2021 to 2023, it said.
The launch joined by representatives of the European Union Delegation in the Philippines, the Catholic Bishops of the Dioceses of Bacolod, Kabankalan and San Carlos in Negros Occidental, Department of Agrarian Reform officials, representatives from the security sector, agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs), and other civil society organizations in the province, the press release said.
“Land rights defenders in Negros province and elsewhere face difficult challenges. However, with the project by KAISAHAN, we see a silver lining. I am confident that the objectives of the project can be achieved by increasing the capacity and focus of different stakeholders in local communities, church groups, CSOs and the government and security sectors to collectively address the issue of impunity”, said Christoph Wagner, Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation.
“Kaisahan intends this project to rebuild connections among land rights defenders and local authorities as well as claim accountability for violations on land and human rights of ARBs and defenders. We hope that our efforts will bring about a significant decline in the number of land and human rights violations across agrarian reform communities in Negros Occidental. The Dagyaw Negros project launch is also a timely contribution to the 33rd anniversary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL),” Anthony Marzan, Kaisahan’s executive director, said.
KAISAHAN is a non-government organization working on facilitating agrarian reform implementation and sustainable rural development since 1990. KAISAHAN has been working in Negros Occidental for almost a decade and has assisted numerous agrarian reform beneficiaries process their claims to land, access government’s support services, and cultivate their land peacefully, the press release said.*