18 farmers who occupy gov’t land in Negros Occidental charged
BACOLOD CITY — The Negros Occidental provincial government has filed charges of illegal trespassing and grave threats against 18 farmers who occupied and farmed land owned by the provincial government in Murcia town.
Jose Maria Valencia, provincial legal officer, said the provincial government filed the charges at the Negros Occidental provincial prosecutor’s office.
The farmers occupied a parcel of land belonging to the Negros First Ranch in barangay Sta. Rosa in Murcia on April 2 and 4.
Valencia said provincial and municipal agrarian reform officials may be named respondents as well if the farmers cited the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) as reason for occupying the land.
The 160-hectare Negros First Ranch was acquired by the provincial government in 2010 and was used to house 6,000 sheep and cattle purchased in Australia under its livestock dispersal program.
Valencia said the conflict became complicated when, on March 5, the Department of Agrarian Reform issued a notice of CARP coverage for 50 hectares of the ranch.
After the notice was issued, Valencia said illegal occupants forced their way into the ranch in April. /INQUIRER
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