TRIO VILLAGE, Toledo, Mon. Feb. 15, 2016–Roughly 15 families in Trio, who live and farm in the area of the village, have been in panic after reports that an Asian investor had bought the lands they said they have been occupying for decades—albeit without papers they have claimed were promised to them by politicians.
Amandala has been informed that the land in question, which is located near the entrance of Trio, Toledo, had been bought by International Missionary Organization Limited, represented by John Yim, a Korean. Yim’s agent, Adan Blanco, has informed that Yim bought the land, 2,570.325 acres in all, back in June 2014 for BZ$1 million from Greenwood Development Company.
Blanco told Amandala that Yim intends to use the land for agriculture and is willing to hire the villagers to work the land while offering them an option to purchase the area upon which they have been squatting.
According to Blanco, although the initial sale offer to the residents for an acre of the land in question was $15,000, the owner has dropped the price to $10,000. A 25% down payment, amounting to $2,500, would be required. The villagers would also be asked to sign on to a deal to pay the balance over 10 years.
The other offer being made by Yim is to hire the villagers for $40 a day. Of that, $14 would be deducted towards payment for the land and the workers would keep $26, which, Blanco said, matches what the villagers earn as their daily revenue.
Blanco said that the investor wants to resolve the matter amicably, although he acknowledges sentiments by some villagers that the land had long been promised to them by politicians from both camps – the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) and the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP), while they were in power.
Some villagers contend that they had been on the property for 25 to 35 years. PGTV’s Wil Maheia, who has been following the story, told our newspaper that electric lines had been run through private property for the residents, which suggests that someone would have given the permission for that to be done.
Maheia reported that at Saturday’s meeting between Blanco and the villagers, the chairman expressed concerns that the villagers can’t afford the down payment.
“Mr. Jose Mojano was the spokesperson for the villagers and he is the chairman of the cooperative. He told Mr. Blanco that the people are poor and do not have any money to buy the land; and in the past both political parties, PUP and UDP, encouraged the people to build and promised that they would get them the papers for the land they now live on,” Maheia reported.
“I have 25 years living here in Trio Village. My mother is one of the affected persons from the Chinese man,” said Maribel Garcia, one of the villagers, when the matter was raised a few weeks ago.
Via e-mail to our newspaper, Oscar Hernandez said that it is unfair that the villagers are being kicked off their land.
“I grew up in that part of the village and now my family is among those being kicked out. There are more than fifteen (15) families that are on the verge of being kicked out of their little house lots where they have been living for many years. Among these families is the Perez family. The breadwinner of the family died in a traffic accident a while ago, and the lady was left a widow with some ten children whom she is raising on her own,” he said.
Hernandez said that the Government had installed water and electricity in these homes, and questioned “…how is it possible that these families will be kicked out just like that? Do these people have no rights? Is there someone who can help these families?”
Although Hernandez has indicated that there were reports that the Korean would have shown up this weekend with a court order to evict them, the company has not initiated any eviction proceedings, Blanco said.
He told us that the company wants to deal with the matter positively and is trying to work out a deal with the villagers.