HomeNewsSumilao farmers marching again, this time to support VP Leni, Kiko

Sumilao farmers marching again, this time to support VP Leni, Kiko

The farmers of Sumilao are on their way to the national capital not to reclaim their tribal land but to return a favor

In 2007, they walked all the way from Bukidnon to Metro Manila to fight for their ancestral land.

This time, the farmers of Sumilao, who made headlines for their march, are on their way to the capital once again, not to reclaim their tribal land, but to return a favor.

They won their battle more than a decade ago, and eventually got their 144-hectare land back with help from legal professionals who volunteered time and resources.

One of those who extended legal assistance during those years of struggle was Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, who was then a practicing lawyer.

Robredo is gunning for the presidency this year with Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan as her running mate.

To repay Robredo’s help, the Sumilao farmers have taken the initiative of going back to Manila, through a caravan and a march, from Maramag town in Bukidnon starting on March 28.

Since the kick-off, the group made stops in Cotabato, Mamasapano in Maguindanao, Tacurong City, General Santos City, Digos City, Davao City, Davao de Oro, Butuan City, and Cagayan de Oro.

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From Cagayan de Oro, the contingent will traverse the cities of Iligan and Pagadian before boarding a ferry to Dumaguete and making the rounds of the Negros islands and other areas in the Visayas.

They are expected to reach Luzon on April 18.

Noland Peñas, one of the Sumilao farmers whose father Rene was among the 2007 marchers, said that they will walk from Gumaca town in Quezon province on April 20 to Manila.

The group plans to do a 400-kilometer march and a 2,000-kilometer caravan during the journey.

Peñas said the group is composed of 10 farmers from Sumilao and seven representatives from other farmers’ organizations.

He said the number “10” and “seven” signify Robredo’s and Pangilinan’s respective numbers on the ballot.

Its sum, “17,” also symbolizes the 17th president of the country, which they believe should be Robredo.

“We want to show the ‘resibo’ of what Leni and Kiko have already done for us,” Peñas said, adding that there are also other farmers who benefited from the interventions of the Office of the Vice President.

He said the Sumilao farmers’ success story shows the result of good governance.

Peñas said they will not just march but will also campaign for the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem. “This caravan will prove that campaigning is not limited to politicians,” he said.

“We are the living witnesses that democracy in the Philippines is alive and thriving, and that this is not just the time for politicians,” he added.

Miraflor Rojo, a member of the Sumilao group, said campaigning for Robredo is a way of expressing gratitude.

“We campaigned for her in 2016. We also conducted a caravan when she ran for vice president. Once again, we are helping her now that she is running for president,” she said.

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