DAR orders firm to let Tarlac farmers till disputed land
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Tarlac province on Thursday ordered a status quo on an ongoing fencing around a 154-hectare disputed landholding beside the former Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac City to avoid tension or violence there.
The order advised officials of the St. Tropez Holding Corp. to “immediately observe and enforce” the status quo “by allowing the farmers to till the subject property pending the final disposition of the aforesaid case.”
In the two-page order furnished to St. Tropez chair Martin Lorenzo, DAR provincial officer-in-charge Rogelio Marzan cited reports that security guards sent by the company in Barangay Balingcanaway in Tarlac City were “preventing the farmers-tillers from entering the subject landholding to till their farm by blocking the ingress and egress thereof and creating tensions in the said area.”
The order came hours after the 98 affected farmers belonging to the Aniban ng Magsasaka Farmers Irrigators Association Inc. (Aniban) protested against the company.
DAR placed the Valdez estate under the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), granting the application of the 98 affected farmers belonging to the Aniban ng Magsasaka Farmers Irrigators Association Inc. (Aniban) on February 12, 2020, said Aniban spokesperson Lina Thalla in a phone interview.
At least 21 Aniban members were arrested in 2009 following a protest. They were released without charges.
She said St. Tropez or the Valdez Estate (recently known as the Cruz and Sioson Estate) had failed to oppose the CARP coverage within 15 days.
Company representatives were not immediately available for comments, but tarpaulins were set up by St. Tropez to assert that the land at Barangay Balingcanaway in Tarlac City is a private property that it acquired from the heirs of owners.
The DAR central office recently granted Aniban’s petition seeking the re-allocation of the Valdez Estate.
The provincial DAR was ordered to start proceedings to cancel several titles, determine the qualified beneficiaries, and issue proper titles to them.