The 2nd Agri/farmers Congress of PESANTE Pilipinas, a group of farmers from all around our nation was held last September 2-3, 2011 at the Covered Court of Brgy. Kanluran, Calauan, Laguna. It was attended by no other than the Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines Jejomar Binay, Undersecretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform Rosalina Bistoyong, Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture Aniceto Nieto, Governor of Laguna E.R. Ejercito, Representatives from the Commission on Human Rights, Board Member Gary Estrada, Former Congressman Boy Aquino, Board Member Rey Paras, and local government officials from Calauan, Laguna.
PESANTE Pilipinas is composed of farmers from 12 provinces and 9 attended the congress from Palawan to Laguna. Almost 300 attendees came with their own stories to tell about the fight they are doing as tenants for more or less than 8500 hectares of land combined from different estate like Hacienda Yulo and Araneta-Roxas Estate.
Evangeline Mendoza is the National President of PESANTE Pilipinas, as a councilor from Brgy, Imok at Calauan, Laguna, as a mother and widow, being the national leader for these farmers need a lot of work and integrity. Together with Senator Antonio Trillanes before at Oakwood in Makati as the sole woman marching with him side by side with General Danilo Lim,Father Robert Reyes and Former Vice President of the Philippines Teofisto Guingona. A lot are looking up to her for her fight, activism, advocacy and courage for her cause. Mendoza lead the event for two consecutive days without wasting any time.
Vice President Jojo Binay seated with the different Presidents of PESANTE from Mindoro, Calauan, Cavite, Canlubang, Calamba, Sarangani and Palawan. Everyone told the Vice President their own fight against the landlords and pictures to prove that some land has been converted into golf course and some has been concreted even though their case is not yet finish. The Vice President promised to help them in his own way and set up a meeting with him again as soon as possible.
The group doesn’t have any budget for food and with the use of social media with the help of “Do it right” advocacy, even not enough yet, donors as far as Baguio City from Dr. Clinton Balud (@drclinton), Wenchie Flores Sabban(Wenchie318) and Sarah Heyesa (@zeeheehee) of Habitat for Humanity helped the group for their food. Some sardines, noodles, blanket and “Banig” came from the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Blankets and “Banig” were use by the attendees from Palawan and Mindoro who had an overnight at the covered court to attend the two days event. Cold and with lots of mosquitos, the farmers stayed and enjoyed the night while watching the video that was provided by Governor E.R. Ejercito.
The 2nd PESANTE Congress is successful. Though the farmers are receiving death threats from what they are doing which is fighting for their rights to live at the same land their ancestors were living, they are determined to prove that they are deserving to have what is due to them. The oldest farmer who attended the event is 93 years old and yes, still fighting for his right.