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Firm offers Calatagan farmers 100 hectares of disputed land

By Katherine Adraneda
Friday, August 1, 2008 [ philstar.com ]

A private company planning to put up a cement factory on a 2,000-hectare property in Calatagan, Batangas is reportedly offering farmers 100 hectares of the disputed land.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza said Asturias Chemicals Industries Inc. is amenable to setting aside a 100-hectare portion of the disputed property as relocation site for 98 farmers who still refuse to sell their emancipation patents to the company.

In a press conference yesterday, Atienza said the contested property remains classified as “mineralized” to this day and that his department can no longer do anything to change the classification since the Supreme Court (SC) has already ruled on the issue.

Atienza said the issue surrounding the Calatagan property is no longer legal, as the SC’s ruling on the matter has become final and executory.

“What we are working on right now is to help the affected settlers assert their rights… to avail themselves of the maximum benefits that they could have, including possibly just compensation for those who have decided to sell their piece of land,” he said.

“We are threshing out benefits and possibilities to uplift their lives there because I have been there several times and witnessed how hard life is for the people there… they have very poor roads and lack many basic amenities,” he added.

Atienza said the government is eyeing to improve the road system and put up schools and health services, among others, for the affected residents of Barangays Baha and Talibayog, with the help of Asturias.

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