Precious Land

In this country, land ownership is but a constant source of struggle. Uneducated or uninformed people are being stripped of from their land through force, intimidation or deception by powerful people. Indigenous groups are deprived of their lands which they have been in possession since time immemorial. A land that was passed to them generations to generations by their great ancestors. Land to them is but inseparable to their existence, absence of which divest them of their will to exist as a nation or as a tribe. Dispossession of the land they hold dear, is likewise denial of the propagation of their culture lest, their very own existence. With the advent of titling to prove or establish ownership, gross dispossession ravaged the land. With few through power, influence and money were able to put several lands into their names, while those who for a fact have legitimate ownership were deprived by the fact that they do not understand well the process. Land grabbing in sense was concretized by the edict of land titling.

In an attempt to address the issue, a land reform program was initiated with the intention of distributing vast tracts of land to the landless, but despite the existence of a law to this effect, low result yielded to the present. With many of the law makers being the land grabbers or part of conglomerates involved in land grabbing, they see to it, that their interest will find loopholes into the law they themselves have enacted.

Several decades after when land issue came into the spotlight more people are still crying out loud for being landless, to name a few, the Aetas of Boracay who considered the island as their haven since time immemorial until corporations came to grab the land are still struggling to set foot on a few hectares of land in the island which was granted to them by the court after long and tedious trial. Their plight is not different from that of the Mangyans of Mindoro and many other Indigenous groups all over the country. The Sumilao Farmers from Minadanao walked hundreds of kilometers to Manila to beg for the government to help them defend their land from a giant corporation, their leader was later on gunned down, but to this day they could not yet sleep blissfully on to that land.

Land is indeed important to ones existence, but how much land thus a person needs to survive? God gave us sufficient land to live and exist, enough for our sustenance, but the land of the earth is intended by God for men to source out its existence, never for profit to the deprivation of others. It is a common wealth that must be share equally. As in the opening statement of Justice Isagani Cruz in his 1989 Decision he elaborately discussed the importance of land to once existence likening it to the struggle of the greek Characters Hercules and Ataneus, thus he wrote,

“xxx In ancient mythology, Antaeus was a terrible giant who blocked and challenged Hercules for his life on his way to Mycenae after performing his eleventh labor. The two wrestled mightily and Hercules flung his adversary to the ground thinking him dead, but Antaeus rose even stronger to resume their struggle. This happened several times to Hercules’ increasing amazement. Finally, as they continued grappling, it dawned on Hercules that Antaeus was the son of Gaea and could never die as long as any part of his body was touching his Mother Earth. Thus forewarned, Hercules then held Antaeus up in the air, beyond the reach of the sustaining soil, and crushed him to death.

Mother Earth. The sustaining soil. The giver of life, without whose invigorating touch even the powerful Antaeus weakened and died.

The cases before us are not as fanciful as the foregoing tale. But they also tell of the elemental forces of life and death, of men and women who, like Antaeus need the sustaining strength of the precious earth to stay alive.

“Land for the Landless” is a slogan that underscores the acute imbalance in the distribution of this precious resource among our people. But it is more than a slogan. Through the brooding centuries, it has become a battle-cry dramatizing the increasingly urgent demand of the dispossessed among us for a plot of earth as their place in the sun xxx.” (Association of Small Land Owners of the Philippines Inc. vs. Sec. Of Agrarian Reform).

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