Saying their rights were not taken into consideration, farmers in Davao City are asking the Davao City Council to take a look-see at the Watershed Protection, Conservation and Management Code for amendments.
City Ordinance 0310-07 also known as the Watershed Code authored by councilor Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling, as then chair of the environment committee, was approved by the 14th City Council on February 23, 2007.
The code laid down regulations in about 34,000 hectares of watershed areas which were delineated and classified into conservation areas, agro-forestry non-tillage areas and prime agricultural lands.
At the core of the watershed code is the Third District terrain analysis and study conducted by the City Planning and Development Office and the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2005, which is now embedded in the city zoning plan.
Affected by the code are land-owners growing bananas in property classified as conservation areas by the code.
Chua, convenor of the Third District Landowners Association, said some lands were declared as agro-forestry and non-tillage areas and farmers are clueless about their status or regulations that would guide their farming activities.
“Our barangay was declared an agro-forestry non-tillage area and we are at a loss what exactly non-tillage means,” said a farmer from Baracayo, New Daliaon..
While the code has yet to be implemented, Pellicer said farmers are now sleepless over losing their right to farm for survival
“The issue of our rights to the full utilization of our property was not addressed and whether or not the government will purchase our lands for conversion to non-tillage agro-forestry development,” said another farmer.
Chua said Third District farmers were not invited to the Cabling committee hearings. While he acknowledged that the intent was to protect the watershed code which his group supports, Chua said amendments should be introduced to also protect farmers’ right to survival.