Quantcast
Latest Stories

Dorita Vargas’ dream of owning land still a dream

By

Dorita Vargas’ troubles are not yet over.

Days after the 63-year-old agrarian reform beneficiary was awarded a parcel of land by the government, she said she, along with 12 others, was refused entry to the property by the security guards of her former landlords in Negros Occidental.

Vargas said armed guards at Hacienda Manalo in La Castellana town turned her and her companions away on Wednesday when they tried to stake their claim on the 5-hectare farm using the certificate of land ownership award (CLOA) handed to them by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on Feb. 13.

The property is in the middle of the 126-hectare sugar plantation, which she said had been “chopped” into separate titles that are now in varying stages of processing for distribution to other beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“We tried to enter the hacienda this morning and we showed them the CLOA but the blue guards would not let us enter. They said we should respect the Manalos,” Vargas said in a phone interview from La Castellana.

She said she was extremely grateful to President Aquino for making good on his promise that she would be given land.

Last June, Vargas marched with 300 other farmers belonging to the Task Force Mapalad (TFM) to Malacañang. The farmers had a dialogue with President Aquino and some Cabinet members. In the meeting, Aquino personally promised Vargas that the land she tilled would be hers by the end of 2012.

The CLOA was given to Vargas on Feb. 13 in a ceremony held at the DAR municipal office there, some eight months after Aquino made his promise.

Vargas said it was still too early to celebrate. She said it might take some time before she could finally be “installed” in the land which she technically now owns, along with the 12 others with whom she would share it.

DAR officials scared

She said the DAR’s municipal unit in La Castellana town appeared to be afraid of the former landlords and could not give the agrarian reform beneficiaries any reassurance that they would be able to occupy the land anytime soon.

She added that the local police also did not appear to be willing to escort them to the property. She admitted, however, that they had not actually made any request for police assistance, believing that it was the DAR’s job to ensure their security.

Vargas pleaded to Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes to help her and her companions claim the parcel of land.

“Since he said that the land is now ours and we can do what we want with it, then we are asking the secretary to personally install us in the land,” she said.

“Why don’t they buy a helicopter and fly us directly to the property so we don’t have to encounter any resistance from the blue guards?” Vargas said.

Chop-chop

De los Reyes said Vargas’ struggle for land ownership had taken years due to complications brought by the so-called “chop-chop,” or parceling of land titles, a tactic used by some landowners to evade CARP coverage.

The official defined chop-chop titles as land titles sold piecemeal by the original landowner whose landholdings, usually beyond the 5-ha limit set by law, were covered by agrarian reform.

He said the owners of Hacienda Manalo subdivided a 10-ha piece of the land into three titles of more than three ha, with two lots transferred in the names of Venysse Laurel and Lorenzo Manalo, immediately after the agrarian reform law was passed more than two decades ago.

Half of that property eventually was retained by the landowners and the other half was awarded to Vargas and her companions.

TFM deputy national coordinator Lanie Factor said her group also appreciated the effort the government had made to award the land to Vargas and her companions.

But Factor said it was a shame that the DAR had not processed the other titles in the same estate at the same time as Vargas’ in order to avoid the problem of landlord resistance.

As for Vargas, she said once she and her companions were finally able to occupy the land, they would form a collective and continue planting sugarcane.

“In the meantime that we’re not being allowed to enter our own land, why don’t they rent the land from us?” she said.

President’s promise

In their June meeting, Vargas told Aquino she raised her six children—all girls—after her husband abandoned her and she took over his job in the farm. It has been 29 years since her husband left her, she said.

To support her family, she worked as a farmhand at Hacienda Manalo, planting sugarcane, fertilizing the fields, picking weeds and harvesting. She was paid P85 a day.

She said that when she joined the clamor to bring the plantation under CARP in 1995, she was fired and her hut was torched.

“Hayaan mo, Nay, tutulungan ko kayo (Don’t worry, I will help you),” the President had told her. Flanked by Cabinet officials, Aquino also promised to fully implement the CARP before its expiration in June 2014, renewing a vow he made when he ran for President.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: agrarian reform , Dorita Vargas , land ownership , Negros Occidental , Philippines - Regions




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Massive infra spending set
  5. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  6. DOJ to NBI: Arrest Cedric Lee, 4 others
  7. Cardinal Tagle to faithful: Join politics to clean it
  8. Estrada, Gigi Reyes denied access to evidence from other respondents
  9. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  10. DOJ orders arrest of Cedric Lee
  1. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  2. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  3. Netizens cry: 6/55 Lotto was rigged
  4. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  5. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  8. ‘King’ Yabut and I: Driver bares Makati dad ‘abuses’
  9. It was difficult having Japanese blood
  10. Palace: We can’t blame increase in population on Vitangcol
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. UP back on top as ‘average’ student aces bar
  5. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  6. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  7. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  8. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  9. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  10. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
Advertisement

News

  • Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  • Drilon, Nancy Binay urge Filipinos to strengthen faith
  • ‘Yolanda’ toll now at 6,300 – NDRRMC
  • ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  • Moderate earthquake jolts southern Iran
  • Sports

  • Power Pinays smash India in Asian Women’s Club volleyball opener
  • PH youth boxers off to stumbling start in AIBA World tilt
  • Durant has 42, Thunder beat Pistons 112-111
  • Walker leads Bobcats over Bulls in OT, 91-86
  • Man City slips further out of title contention
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Derek more private with new girlfriend
  • Business

  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • PH presses bid to keep rice import controls
  • PSEi continues to gain
  • Number of retrenched workers rose by 42% in ’13
  • Technology

  • Netizens seething in anger over Aquino ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • First Fil-Am elected to Sierra Madre, Calif. city council
  • UC Irvine cultural night to dramatize clash of values in immigrant family
  • Filipino sweets and info served at UC Berkeley Spring Fest
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement