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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, March 14, 2007
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Negros Oriental
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Hunger strikers
sign last will

Seventeen Task Force Mapalad members on a hunger strike in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform office in Quezon City demanding to be installed at Hacienda Velez-Malaga in La Castellana town last night wrote their holographic last will and testaments bequeathing their share of the land to their children.

Lawyer Aison Garcia of Saligan, a group of Ateneo lawyers, witnessed the event, Task Force Mapalad spokesperson Lani Factor said in a text message.

The holographic will expressed in writing that the hunger strikers' share of Hacienda Velez-Malaga shall be inherited by their children. Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman said Sunday his office is still conducting an assessment of the situation at Hacienda Velez-Malaga to ensure that when it installs the farmer beneficiaries the members of the opposing groups can live in peaceful co-existence.

Pangandaman who was in Negros last week was expected to install the 122 Task Force Mapalad farmer-beneficiaries on 144 hectares of the farm but it did not take place.

"We cannot risk an outbreak of violence that could lead to bloodshed," he had said, after opposing farmers massed at the farm to block any installation.

About 198 members of the Malaga Cuenca Multi-Purpose Cooperative and the Hacienda Malaga Independent Workers Union, who are also workers of Hacienda Velez Malaga are opposing the installation of the TFM members on what they claim is the prime area of the farm.

Of the 122 TFM beneficiaries of 144 hectares, 20 have returned to their side and only 57 are original tillers of the land, they said.

Romulo Espinosa, a spokesman of the opposing farmers' group, said the TFM hunger strike was a propaganda ploy to pressure the DAR to act.

However, he and his companions said they doubted that the hunger strike was for real.

Factor said if it were not for real how could they explain weight loss of the hunger strikers.*CPG

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