Alberto Jayme, president of national peasant federation Task Force Mapalad (in blue shirt) leads fellow farmers in a rally to continue and overhaul CARP implementation as they are blocked by a phalanx of police officers at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City. File photo by Jimmy Domingo/Task Force Mapalad

Negros peasant leader, hailed as inspiration in fight for land rights, laid to rest

Negros News – Some three thousand farmers on Monday gathered at the Caduha-an Public Cemetery in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental to bid farewell to Alberto Jayme, president of national peasant federation Task Force Mapalad (TFM), who had inspired landless tillers nationwide to fight for their rights under the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“Nilibing man ngayon si Nong Joy (Jayme), pero hindi ang kanyang ala-ala, hindi ang naipunla niyang tibay at tapang na magiging inspirasyon namin upang ipagpatuloy ang pakikibaka para sa karapatan naming ariin at pakinabangan ang lupang aming sinasaka,” said 66-year-old TFM peasant Dorita Vargas of the province’s Hacienda Canticbil-Manalo in Brgy. Robles, La Castellana.

[Nong Joy is buried today but not his memories, not the strength and courage that he had sown that will serve as inspiration for us to continue our fight for our rights to own and benefit from the lands we till.]

Jayme, 50, had been TFM-Negros president since 2009. He died of heart attack in the early morning of August 20, 2015, hours after he complained of chest pain and difficulty in breathing and was rushed to Riverside Medical Center in Bacolod City.

Jayme was not only the leader among Negros farmers. He also led the 43,000-strong TFM farmer-members nationwide. TFM helps said farmers in over 8,0000 estates or landholdings in nine provinces namely Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Iloilo, Cagayan Valley, Nueva Ecija, Eastern Batangas, Oriental Mindoro, Davao Oriental, and Bukidnon.

Last Sunday, during a tribute for Jayme at his residence in Brgy. Tinampaan in Cadiz, his family received on his behalf a certificate of recognition thanking and praising the TFM president for his “indefatigable service to the Filipino peasantry” and for his being a “servant-leader.”

The certificate given by SULONG CARPER, a national multi-sectoral alliance led by peasants and religious groups, and the non-government Climate Change Congress of the Philippines was signed by Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma; CBCP Permanent Committee on Public Affairs Chair Bishop Broderick Pabillo; former Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel; and former Comelec chief and agrarian reform advocate Christian Monsod.

Jayme, among the 11 children of a poor peasant couple in Cadiz, started working as a sacada at the age of nine. He was only able to own the land he was tilling for decades in 2013, when he was already 48 years old after many years of struggling for his and his fellow farmers’ rights under the CARP.

Emotions were high during the tribute as families, friends, and allies praised Jayme for his selfless devotion to his work as servant-leader.

“Wala s’yang hininging kapalit sa pagseserbisyo n’ya sa mga magsasaka. Napakapasensyoso n’ya at maunawain. Hindi rin s’ya mapanghusga. Ang oras na dapat ay sa kanya at sa pamilya ay binuhos n’ya sa mga kampanya para matulungan ang mga magsasaka na magkalupa,” said Terry Tarlac, TFM local community organizer-volunteer in the province’s Manapla town.

[He never asked anything in return for helping farmers. He was so patient and understanding. He was not judgmental. He devoted the time that he was supposed to give to himself and his family to campaigns that would help farmers own land.]

North Negros Occidental Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Teresita Mabunay cried and said that Jayme was a big loss to TFM. She said Jayme’s servant leadership should serve as an inspiration among farmers fighting for social justice. Mabunay said during the tribute that she would continue helping Negros farmers own the lands they till under the CARP.

Father Ernie Larida, director of the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Bacolod City, also could not help but cry as he led the Mass during the tribute for Jayme. He praised the TFM leader for being kind, helpful, and a true leader of landless and enslaved peasants.

Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. also attended the tribute and said that Jayme was a true friend and a genuine defender of peasants’ rights.

Peasant leader Jose Rodito Angeles, the predecessor of Jayme as TFM president, said the latter’s sacrifice must be the source of strength of landless tillers to continue their fight to own and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

“Hindi tayo binigo ni Joy (Jayme) kailan man sa ating laban. Ituloy natin ang pakikibakang ito. Marami pa sanang maging katulad n’ya na tumindig at nag-alay ng buhay para sa kapakanan ng mga mahihirap at inaaping magsasaka,” said Angeles.

[Joy (Jayme) never let us down in our fight. Let us continue this struggle. I hope that there will be more like Joy who will be ready to stand up and give his or her life for the welfare of poor and oppressed farmers.]