A GROUP of farmers pushing for agrarian reform has thrown its support behind the vice presidential bid of Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo.
Over a hundred farmers from Sumilao, Bukidnon province, vowed to campaign for Robredo through a march-caravan from April 15 to May 7.
The 23-day cross-country march-caravan will cover 3,750 kilometers and will start in San Vicente, Sumilao, Bukidnon, passing through Cotabato, Davao, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Tacloban, Legazpi, Naga and Lucena and will end at the Quezon City Memorial Circle.
Soc Banzuela of the Samahang Tsinelas said the farmers chose Robredo because they believe that she has the track record and platform that primarily focuses on the welfare of the poor, especially the marginalized and underprivileged.
“They [farmers]will campaign for Leni dahil malapit sila rito kung saan naging abogado nila ito at natulungan sila na magkaroon ng lupa (because they are close to her and she helped them acquire their land),” Banzuela told reporters in a news briefing in Greenhills, San Juan City on Wednesday.
Before entering politics, Robredo had worked as a human rights lawyer at the Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (Saligan), a non-government organization that provides free legal assistance to the poor, including the Sumilao farmers.
Banzuela said the Sumilao farmers were warmly welcomed by Robredo when they conducted a caravan to Naga City in October 2007.
The Sumilao farmers are a multi-awarded group of landless Higaonon farmers who struggled non-violently for 20 long years to get back their 144-hectare ancestral land under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
Banzuela, however, clarified that the group will not campaign for other candidates of the Liberal Party (LP).
“This campaign is solely for Leni. The Samahang Tsinelas, Laylayan Coalition united only for Leni,” he said.
Meanwhile, Robredo thanked the Sumilao farmers for their support.
In a statement, she said she was with the Sumilao farmers when they struggled for the land that for years they have been fighting.
“Nagpapasalamat tayo sa kanilang suporta at sa paniniwalang ipagpapatuloy nating tutulungan ang mahihirap, magsasaka, mangingisda at iba pang nasa laylayan ng lipunan,” Robredo said.
“Ang tunay na susi ng ating kampanya ay ang mga volunteers na tulad nila na nagbibigay ng oras, talento at kakayahan para mapagtagumpayan natin ang eleksyon, para sa katuparan ng ating mga pangarap,” she added.