Restoration of Farmers’ land a reality. Disputed lands restored conditionally Cases still pending

Reforms activated.

PICS: DAR website

PICS: DAR website

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Agrarian Land reforms activated

Nothing is more disastrous and devastating for a farmer poor or rich than losing his fields. For, that is all he has to sustain and nurture his family. But, reality of local conditions are an eye opener and not really palatable.

However, when you get back your own land that has not been with you, it transcends all joy. Some of the peasants had not been able to till their land for more than 40 years.

Agrarian Reforms Department (DAR) has facilitated the reversal of the ownership of the land. In most cases large companies engaged in the food industry cornered the land.

Monday saw the process seeing the light of day for a few peasants. The Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (Marbai) is an agency involved in the Battle to reclaim 145 hectares of land. It consists of 149 members.

A survey by DAR led to the reversal of ownership. Soldiers and police personnnel stood by watching closely. A Cease-and-desist order (CDO) was in place against Lapanday Foods, a private company.

There was also a throng of families and friends of the beneficiaries who came to support the effort.

Dozens of soldiers and policemen stood guard as DAR officials and the regional sheriff implemented the Dec. 13 cease-and-desist order (CDO) against LFC.

The CDO directed the company that it should not interfere with the process. More than 1000 beneficiaries stood by in wait.

The Department of Agrarian Reforms’ Sheriff Adelaido Caminade was in attendance to oversee implementation of the CDO. The security personnel of the LFC were also ejected from the area.

Consequently, the only thing that the LFC management could do was accuse the MARBAI members of illegal occupation. First of all, the land belonged to Hijo Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative 1 (Hearbco 1).

Why should the DAR give it to the MARBAI group?

Seems like the LFC wanted to protect their agreement with HEARBCO involving farm handling and supply of fruits. They quoted civil cases to support their contention.

Those cases were ongoing in the Davao City Regional Trial Court Branch. Therefore, the LFC maintains that the move was illegal and violated court orders.

Hijo plantations Inc had made Bardonido’s life miserable 43 years ago. They had brought misery on his family of eight children who led a normal life.

The awards of lands to them came in spite of disputes by some employees and Agrarian Reforms beneficiaries (ARBs). This devastated their orderly life and the schooling of his children.

That happened in 1990.

He lamented that, due to lack of education, he did not understand anything about contracts. He entered contracts without much idea of what the details were.

His grower’s contracts with Hijo Plantations Inc (LFC) in 1999 and Global Fruits Corp. got him into trouble.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, explained that the contract was for 10 years. Farmers rejected the contract later due to its high exploitative nature. Moreover, HEARBCO accumulated debts.

Hence, MARBAI came into existence. They asserted their tillage rights through a petition. 2011 saw a compromise between LFC and HEARBCO and reduced the debt by P 800,000.

Finally, DAR ordered restoration of their land to ARBs of MARBAI in 2015 but the transfer of land did not materialize.

The farmers started agitating last month and launched a blockade. Security Guards shot and wounded seven peasants on December 12. Another three suffered gunshot wounds in another attack two days later.

The company denied the allegations.

But, help is finally taking concrete shape; orders for reinstatement of their lands. Decisive action by Rafael Mariano, the Secretary Reform has brought the poor peasants much cheer.

While there are cases that are still pending, the security forces stood aloof and watch as per instructions. They could go and help the farmers as needed.

Because the issues are long-standing and quite complex, they cannot be solved immediately, he concluded.

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Umrao singh
Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Written for: Lars-Magnus Carlsson