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Farmers get back land from banana firm

/ 12:40 PM December 19, 2016
MARIANO: My office has “inherited” 10,000 petitions for cancellation of certificates of land ownership awards. INQUIRER PHOTO

Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano has issued a cease-and-desist order on Lapanday Foods Corp.’s taking over 145 hectares of banana plantation earlier awarded to farmers in Tagum City. INQUIRER PHOTO

TAGUM CITY – The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on Monday reinstated the ownership of the 145-hectare land to the 159 farmers under the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (Marbai) in Barangay Madaum here.

The farmers were locked in a dispute with banana firm Lapanday Foods Corp. (LFC).

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Dozens of soldiers and police were deployed as DAR officials and the regional sheriff implemented the cease-and-desist order (CDO) against LFC on Monday morning.

“The CDO directs Lapanday to desist from interfering with your operations inside your claimed area,” Adelaido Caminade, DAR Southern Mindanao sheriff, told the crowd of over 1,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries and their supporters, who responded by clapping.

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The order also provided for the eviction of LFC security personnel in the area occupied by the farmer-beneficiaries, with DAR personnel backed by police and soldiers supervising farmers as they began harvesting bananas.

“We are elated and very excited that after six years, six months and six days, our struggle has borne fruit,” farmer leader Antonio Tuyak told Inquirer.

“This is indeed true land reform,” he added.

Issued last Dec. 13 by Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, the CDO was implemented “due to the urgency of the situation,” Caminade said.

Last week, at least seven farmers were wounded when plantation guards fired at farmers who wanted their lands back. CBB/rga

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TAGS: Land Reform, Lapanday Foods Corp., LFC, Madaum, MARBAI, news, Rafael Mariano, Tagum City
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