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Sue solon, lease holders of Luisita lots, DAR urged

Tarlac lawmaker says he didn’t rent area in sugar estate covered by land reform
/ 12:30 AM April 29, 2017
Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano inspects a disputed property in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province.  —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano inspects a disputed property in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

The Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) has asked Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano to sue Tarlac Rep. Noel Villanueva and those who rented or bought lots awarded to 6,212 farmers in Hacienda Luisita in spite of a 10-year prohibition set by law.

Danilo Ramos, UMA secretary general, said Villanueva “revealed himself as an ‘aryendador’ (one who rents lands) of distributed lands in Hacienda Luisita by acting as spokesperson.”

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Villanueva said he did not lease any lot covered by certificates of land ownership award (Cloa).

“If UMA thinks I committed an actionable wrong, they can file a case against me. There’s no problem,” he said on Friday.

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Canceled JVAs

In an earlier interview, Villanueva had articulated the concerns of businessmen who leased Cloa lands, after Mariano on Wednesday canceled the sale or lease of properties and joint venture agreements at Hacienda Luisita.

Mariano acted on a month-long validation report which concluded that 2,800 Cloa beneficiaries leased or mortgaged their lands.

The report said 600 Cloa holders sold their lots to third-party buyers and 200 others took part in joint venture agreements.

The validation conducted by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) covered 5,031 Cloa holders in 10 villages in the sugar estate.

The groups that leased Cloa land complained that Mariano’s decision violated “a constitutional guarantee of non-impairment of contracts.”

They also raised the possibility of unjust enrichment in the event they would be barred from harvesting what they planted.

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In a statement, Ramos said, “If the cat is already out of the bag, Villanueva should be included among those charged by the DAR with renting distributed agrarian lands.”

Congressional inquiry

Ramos also called for a congressional inquiry to know why Villanueva, a member of the House committee on agrarian reform, was speaking for people who rented Cloa lands.

UMA identified a supposed subsidiary of a Hacienda Luisita-based sugar mill as one of the firms that leased agrarian lots.

“The congressman from Tarlac and all other aryendador should know that when the Supreme Court ruled on April 24, 2012, in favor of the farm workers in Hacienda Luisita, it stated, among others, that such lands should be always under the control of the agrarian reform beneficiaries,” Ramos said. —TONETTE OREJAS

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TAGS: Hacienda Luisita, Secretary Rafael Mariano, Tarlac Rep. Noel Villanueva, Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)
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