Barricade against land grabbing for ecotourism


Residents of Barangay Patungan (now Sta. Mercedes) in Maragondon, Cavite once again foiled the attempted demolition of their community on January 13 by policemen, soldiers, and private goons hired by big capitalist families Virata and Sy. For several years, they have stood firm against land grabbing to pave the way for ecotourism and business projects.

Three residents were injured, and six were arrested by policemen and soldiers during the violent dismantling of the barricade. More than 1,000 elements of the demolition team trooped to the barangay and repeatedly fired their guns.

Various mass organizations expressed support for the struggle in Barangay Patungan and demanded an immediate investigation and intervention by the local government and agencies.

Fight back Patungan!

Barangay Patungan is a coastal village with around 1,200 residents (more than 350 families) who rely primarily on fishing and farming. According to residents, generations of their families spanning 150 years have lived in the area.

The barangay has a total area of 602 hectares and is surrounded by rich and majestic mountains and seas. This is why the MTV Realty Corporation, owned by Maria Theresa Virata, and Manila Southcoast Development Corporation (MSDC) of the Sy family, are conniving to land grab the area.

The MTV Realty Corporation has been encroaching on the area since 2012 despite showing no land title. The company constructed roads and claimed the mountains surrounding the area. In the same year, it deployed private goons at the entry point of the barangay to control the movement of residents.

The number of families in Patungan used to be around 600 but has been cut by half since 2012 as residents faced threats, deception, demolition, and were forcibly driven away. Relocation sites offered by the local government are far from residents’ livelihood, and housing has to be amortized monthly.

In 2014, there were reports that the village elementary school and high school were to be demolished to pave the way for ecotourism projects. In 2016, residents also faced threats of demolition.

The Save Patungan Now Movement continues to frustrate these attempts and unite residents to fight back.

Struggle in Hacien­da Looc

The land grabbing case in Barangay Patungan is linked to the Hamilo Coast of the Sy Family which is currently being constructed at Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas. The MSDC constructed a beach, resort, and condominium in the area which displaced thousands of farmers.

The land in Hacienda Looc was covered by the reactionary government’s agrarian reform program in 1990. Up to 5,218 hectares of the 8,650 hectares of land in Hacienda Looc were distributed to farmers. However, in 1994, the government sold the hacienda to MSDC even if it was already covered by agrarian reform. Around 10,000 farmers and fisherfolk depend on the land, water and rich resources of the hacienda.

The Ugnayan ng Mamamayan Laban sa Pangwawasak ng Kalupaan sa Hacienda Looc has been uniting the community in their struggle since the 1990s. It mounted caravans to Manila, picket protests and barricades, and fought legal battles at the Department of Agrarian Reform and government agencies.

The struggle in Hacienda Looc has gained widespread support. Residents are supported by the religious sector, students from Manila, and other sectors.

To defend the farmers and fisherfolk, the New People’s Army disarmed the goons of Henry Sy at his resort in Hacienda Looc on January 2017. Forty-two firearms were confiscated in two raids against the resort.

Barricade against land grabbing for ecotourism