BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Vice President Leni Robredo said she hopes that the Dagyaw Negros para sa Duta (Negros Solidarity for Land Rights) project will be replicated all over the country to protect agrarian reform beneficiaries and land rights defenders from human rights violations.
“There should be more of us doing this work on helping farmers protect their land and human rights,” Robredo said in a pre-recorded message at the online launching of the Dagyaw Negros para sa Duta project yesterday.
A known alternative lawyer and human rights defender, Robredo underscored the relevance and importance of establishing online legal help desks in Negros Occidental to promptly respond to the queries and grievances of ARBs on land and human rights issues.
The Dagyaw Negros also offers 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, Joshua Villalobos, Dagyaw sa Negros and Kaisahan training officer, said.
FUNDS AND GRANTS
Villalobos also said in a statement that a protection fund and sub-grant will be made available for land rights defenders in Negros Occidental, who may face legal constraints and security issues in protecting land and human rights.
The project, Villalobos said, is supported by the European Union Delegation in the Philippines under its European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights Country-based Support Scheme. It is being implemented by the non-government organization Kaisahan Tungo sa Kaunlaran ng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan Inc. in Negros Occidental from 2021 to 2023.
The launching was also attended by representatives of the European Union Delegation in the Philippines, the bishops of the dioceses of Bacolod, Kabankalan, and San Carlos in Negros Occidental, Department of Agrarian Reform officials, the security sector, ARBs, and other civil society organizations in the province.
NGO FOR ARBs
Kaisahan is a non-government organization working on facilitating agrarian reform implementation and sustainable rural development since 1990. It has been working in Negros Occidental for almost a decade and has assisted numerous ARBs in processing their claims to land.
“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,” Christoph Wagner, head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation, said.
“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,” Anthony Marzan, Kaisahan executive director, said.*