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Carla P. Gomez

Danding land reform scheme targeted

DAR chief says distribution of stocks, instead of land under review
/ 02:21 AM August 14, 2016
AGRARIAN REFORM Secretary Rafael Mariano, former peasant leader, meets with farmers protesting the exemption from land reform of a piece of land in Negros Occidental that the provincial government wants to use as cattle ranch.CARLA P. GOMEZ/INQUIRER VISAYAS

AGRARIAN REFORM Secretary Rafael Mariano, former peasant leader, meets with farmers protesting the exemption from land reform of a piece of land in Negros Occidental that the provincial government wants to use as cattle ranch.CARLA P. GOMEZ/INQUIRER VISAYAS

BACOLOD CITY—The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is reviewing a program in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law that allows landowners to skip the actual distribution of lands in exchange for giving away shares of stocks to farmers instead and which has been called “corporative scheme.”

The scheme has been adopted on the 4,300-hectare farms formerly owned by business tycoon Eduardo Cojuangco in Negros Occidental and which have been covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

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Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano was informed on Saturday that the agency received reports that the property was no longer planting high- value crops and was being managed by someone else.

“If violations to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law are found, we will act on the matter,” he said.

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He said the DAR would ensure the interest of the farmer beneficiaries are upheld, in any agribusiness arrangement.

The farms, which have 1,800 farmer-beneficiaries, are located in the cities of La Carlota, Bago and Himamaylan, as well as in the towns of Pontevedra, Hinigaran, La Castellana and
Isabela.

Joint venture scheme

During the term of pardoned plunder convict former President Estrada, the property of Cojuangco was placed under the CARP. But instead of distributing the property to the farmer-beneficiaries, a joint venture scheme was put up that made farmers part-owners and workers of the property.

Mariano was in Bacolod City to hold a dialogue with at least 30 farmers who had been camping outside the provincial capitol since July 15 to protest the province’s purchase of a piece of property which they said should have been covered by CARP and given to them.

The province bought the Hacienda Ilimnan property in Murcia town, Negros Occidental from the Arguelles family in 2010 to be used as cattle and sheep ranch now known as Negros First Ranch under the provincial government’s Food Security Program.

But Danilo Tabura, leader of the group of farmers, said the purchase deprived the farmer-beneficiaries of a piece of land to till since the hacienda should have been covered by CARP.

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Tabura said of the 159 hectares purchased by the Capitol for the ranch, at least 97 hectares should have been covered by CARP.

Dialogue

He said they tried to hold a dialogue with Gov. Alfredo Maranon but Maranon refused to see them.

Tabura said through their meeting with Mariano, they hoped that the DAR would continue the land acquisition and distribution process in Hacienda Ilimnan.

Mariano said he would rule on the motion for reconsideration filed by the province on the DAR decision denying the province’s petition to exclude the ranch from CARP.

Negros Island has the largest balance of land still not distributed under CARP at 101,000 hectares. Of the number, 91,000 hectares are located in Negros Occidental province under 3,500 landholdings, said Stephen Leonidas, DAR Negros Island regional director.

The Presidential Agrarian Reform Council is reviewing the stock distribution option (SDO) that had been adopted on two large landholdings in Negros Occidental, a province which Mariano called a “bastion of landlordism.”

Mariano said the review stemmed from the petitions for cancellation of SDO granted on two large landholdings in Negros Occidental that have been covered by CARP.

They were the Wuthrich Hermanos Inc. located in Buenavista, Calatrava town, covering 174.31 hectares with 336 farmer beneficiaries, and the SVG Farms in Barangay Concepcion, Talisay City, covering 170 hectares with 144 beneficiaries, he said.

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TAGS: agrarian reform, Agriculture, Eduardo Danding Cojuangco, president estrada, Regions
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