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Planters take over lands farmers got in Luisita

/ 11:32 PM January 24, 2014

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—A farmers’ group has accused the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) of failing to secure the lots that have been titled to more than 6,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita, an estate owned by the family of President Benigno Aquino.

The failure to secure the lots, the group Farmworkers Agrarian Reform Movement (FARM)-Hacienda Luisita said in a statement, led to the planters, also known as “ariendador,” using the lots to plant sugarcanes.

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Roger Amurao, vice chair of FARM-Luisita, said in the statement that the planters “were “wantonly disregarding the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and the Supreme Court decision with their continuing effort to control the land despite the distribution of [certificates of land ownership award].”

“The DAR has not installed farmer-beneficiaries in lands already cleared of sugarcanes. Instead, the ariendador are having a heyday in replanting ‘awarded lands’ in violation of the Supreme Court decision,” Amurao said in the statement.

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The high court directed the DAR to distribute the estate’s 4,915.75 hectares covered by the CARP in 1989 through stock sharing. But the order also asked the DAR to exclude 500 ha sold to Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. and 80.15 ha sold to the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.

Instead of having 4,335.60 ha for distribution, the DAR ended up with 4,099 ha of land available for agrarian reform.

Anthony Parungao, agrarian reform undersecretary for legal affairs, said the agency had “consistently and continuously shown political will in the implementation of the final and executory decision of the Supreme Court since its promulgation in April 2012.”

Parungao said the DAR did not recognize lease arrangements between planters and farm workers. He said the agency announced this policy in streamers put up in Hacienda Luisita last year.

For lack of capital to grow crops, farm workers rent out lots for P7,000 to P10,000 per hectare a year.

The DAR, Parungao said, would file criminal cases against those who remove or destroy “mojon” (boundary markers) and pursue contempt charges against them.

“We are doing our best to complete the installation of [boundary] markers at the soonest possible time, preferably before the end of the first quarter of this year, or thereabouts,” he said.

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He said the DAR had asked 10 teams to complete the perimeter survey.

He added that the DAR would also install beneficiaries in areas that were already marked, starting this month in Barangay Bantog. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

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TAGS: agrarian reform, DAR, Department of Agrarian Reform, Hacienda Luisita, Land Reform
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