Landlord defies DAR order favoring farmers

The Agrarian Reform Benificiaries (ARBs). (Photoby Kilab Multimedia)
The Agrarian Reform Benificiaries (ARBs). (Photoby Kilab Multimedia)

The 145-hectare land that was previously awarded under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in 1996 was successfully turned over by DAR to MARBAI farmers last Dec. 19. However, the farmer-beneficiaries were forcibly driven out of their own land by about 300 security guards of the LFC.

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat

MANILA – Agribusiness firm Lapanday Foods Corporation (LFC) has been defying orders from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to give up control of the 145-hectare land awarded to farmer-beneficiaries.

Agrarian reform chief Rafael Mariano was in Madaum, Tagum City yesterday April 18 supposedly to install 159 members of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. (MARBAI) in the San Isidro plantation but the LFC reportedly deployed 800 armed security guards to barricade the banana plantation and allegedly installed ‘booby traps’ along the fences. The agency has postponed the installation of agrarian reform beneficiaries to April 21 after local police in Davao del Norte refused to mobilize its forces for the implementation of the DAR’s order.

“We will not bow down to this act of aggression by big landlord-oligarchs against our bid to implement genuine agrarian reform,” Mariano said. “We will ensure that the farmer-beneficiaries will be installed to their rightful lands safely.”

Thousands of farmers and agricultural workers from the Southern Mindanao region gathered in Madaum, Tagum City to join the farmer-beneficiaries and the DAR yesterday.

Mariano said the local police invoked technicalities and cited the lack of operational plan for the installation of farmers yesterday. The agrarian reform chief recalled that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) committed to deploy 200 men to enforce the DAR’s order last week.

Mariano even asked the assistance of PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa but to no avail. Dela Rosa ordered the PNP Davao del Norte to assist in opening the barricaded San Isidro farm area but the local police did not budge.

The LFC, through its lawyers, sent a letter to the DAR stating that it does not recognize its jurisdiction over the banana plantation and argued that Mariano’s writ of installation order is null and void.

The agribusiness firm applied for a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injunction before the Court of Appeals to undermine the Cease and Desist Order issued by Mariano but the court denied the application.

Mariano affirmed the agency’s quasi-judicial powers to adjudicate agrarian reform issues and determine matters involving the implementation of agrarian laws based on the authority vested upon the agency.

As early as Dec. 14, 2016, the DAR issued a cease and desist order prohibiting the LFC firm from forcibly evicting members of MARBAI from the banana plantation.

Last January, Mariano warned Lapanday of contempt and additional criminal and administrative cases if the banana farmers in Tagum City are not reinstated to their lands immediately.

The 145-hectare land that was previously awarded under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in 1996 was successfully turned over by DAR to MARBAI farmers last Dec. 19. However, the farmer-beneficiaries were forcibly driven out of their own land by about 300 security guards of the LFC. (http://bulatlat.com)

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