Luisita firm sues farmers for breaking into bank lot
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — Luisita Land Corp. has sued 15 farmers of Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province for malicious mischief and trespassing for trying to break-in and take portions of a 500-hectare property owned by Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) inside the former sugar estate in November last year.
But John Milton Lozande, secretary general of Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), said the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) should take over the lawsuit since the incident was agrarian in nature.
The firm charged Renato Mendoza, UMA chair; Leonarda Corpuz-Halili, Abney Gayla, Bong Gondran, Jess Villanueva, Erwin Laza, Amang Trinidad, Wilson Duque, June Corpuz, Rogelio David, Maricar Duque, Jeng Tanda, Exequiel Ronquillo, Maning Gomez and Rudy Corpuz.
Judge Eleanor de Jesus of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch II ordered the 15 farmers to submit their counteraffidavits, according to a Jan. 11 order received by Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) on Monday.
On Dec. 18, Deputy City Prosecutor Liza Agliam cited the farmers for damaging the fence of RCBC at Barangay Cutcut in Tarlac City. The damage sought was for P1.99 million.
Mendoza, who is also Ambala secretary general, said Ambala members have the right to cultivate that part of Hacienda Luisita after the revocation by former Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano of its land-use conversion order in February 2017.
The revocation was premised on the fact that the property had not been improved.
Lozande said the DAR should evict RCBC from the contested property.
In 2012, the Supreme Court ordered the DAR to segregate from Hacienda Luisita the 500 ha that was covered by the conversion order in August 1996.
In 2013, halfway through the term of then President Benigno Aquino III, a member of the Cojuangco clan that owned the sugar estate, the DAR acquired 4,500 ha from Hacienda Luisita Inc. for P471.5 million, for which titles were issued to the republic in 2013. —TONETTE OREJAS
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