Over a dozen hurt as CMU campus guards clash with farmers in Bukidnon

Uriel Quilinguing

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Over a dozen hurt as CMU campus guards clash with farmers in Bukidnon

PACIFY. Police arrive to prevent tension from escalating at a Central Mindanao University property in Bukidnon.

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The farmers have long been wanting to occupy portions of the 3,080-hectare Central Mindanao University property

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Tension gripped the state-run Central Mindanao University (CMU) campus in Barangay Dologon, Maramag town, Bukidnon, on Tuesday afternoon, November 21, as school security personnel tried to stop intruders from constructing makeshift residential structures within a fenced school property.

At least 14 people were hurt as a result of incidents involving beatings with wooden sticks and throwing stones that took place between university guards and members of the Buffalo-Tamaraw-Limus (BTL) group of farmers who, since 1971, have been wanting to occupy portions of the 3,080-hectare CMU property.

The altercation stopped only when personnel from Maramag Municipal Police arrived at the scene.

In a statement, the CMU administration issued a warning to intruders who allegedly pretended to be unaware that their entry to the university reservation had been declared illegal by the Supreme Court (SC) in a decision.

The SC’s Third Division, in its decision dated February 22, 2016, ruled that the 3,080-hectare property of CMU “is exempt from coverage” of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. 

One section of the SC decision read, “The lands actually occupied, directly and exclusively used and found to be necessary for the school site and campus, including experimental farm stations for educational purposes, and for establishing seed and seedling research and pilot production centers.”

CMU President Rolito Eballe said that prior to the October 30 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections, BTL members had already encroached on the proposed site of their Beef Cattle Project. They allegedly erected makeshift shelter structures, visible to the public along the Sayre Highway.

The Beef Cattle Project would serve as CMU’s laboratory for professors and their students enrolled in agriculture, veterinary medicine, and forestry courses, among others.

On October 31, CMU security personnel started removing the makeshift structures in the presence of police and military personnel as a precautionary measure should the occupants resist the demolition of their temporary dwellings.

However, Maramag Mayor Jose Joel Doromal and Vice Mayor Maribeth Estrella-Lopez arrived and called for dialogue between CMU officials and BTL representatives, hoping a peaceful solution could be arrived at. As a result, not all makeshift structures were demolished.

On August 14, Eballe told a news conference that settlers belonging to BTL, backed by the Musuan Inhabitants Landless Farmers Association (MILFA), have encroached CMU’s property. He was referring to the university’s Field 1, Green Valley, and Musuan-Dologon properties.

CMU was founded in 1910 as a state university for research in the fields of agriculture, forestry, veterinary medicine, and biology to serve the entire southern Philippines. Later, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declared CMU as a center of development in mathematics, environmental science, and teacher education. – Rappler.com

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