DAR: Negros land not exempt from CARP
BACOLOD CITY—Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano has rejected a bid to exempt from the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) a 147-hectare land owned by the Negros Occidental provincial government and which the provincial government wants to use to raise cattle and sheep.
In a resolution released on Wednesday, Mariano denied a motion for reconsideration filed by the Negros Occidental provincial government represented by Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr.
Mariano instead affirmed the May 10 ruling of then Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes that denied the request of the province to exempt the land, under the name Negros First Ranch, from CARP.
The land straddles two villages—Sta. Rosa and Canlandog—in the town of Murcia and is divided into three lots.
Of these lots, only one was granted exemption from CARP by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) after the provincial government was able to prove that the land has been in use for cattle raising prior to its purchase by the provincial government for P3 million.
The two other lots could not be considered as CARP-exempt, according to the DAR ruling.
One is a 50-ha piece of property bought from George Arguelles on March 30, 2012, for P13.9 million.
Another lot, measuring 97 ha, was bought for P24.3 million from the heirs of Alfonso Arguelles, Rosalina Exaltado, Alicia Arguelles, Lydia Arguelles and Fernando Arguelles on Dec. 29, 2010.
Mariano said in his resolution that the province didn’t deny the fact that both lots are not being used for cattle raising at the time they were bought.
Farmers had also staked claims on the land.
Some of the farmers held a rally at the provincial capitol and were met by Mariano during the secretary’s visit to the city on Saturday.
Mariano cited DAR records that showed the owners of one of the lots had offered to sell the piece of property to the DAR office in Murcia for distribution under CARP.
Before the provincial government bought the 97-ha lot, parts of it had already been placed under CARP and certificates of land ownership awards had been given to farmer-beneficiaries.
“These facts merely show that subject lands are proper subjects of (CARP) coverage,” Mariano said.
He reiterated an earlier statement that “no farmer should be evicted from the farm he or she is tilling.”
Danilo Tabura, Hacienda Ilimnan Farm Workers Association chair, said farmers were happy with the DAR ruling.
He said 55 families were waiting to be installed but were also aware that such would take time as the provincial government was expected to resort to “legal maneuvers.”
Jose Ma. Valencia, provincial legal officer, said the provincial government might contest Mariano’s ruling at the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals.