Mindanao farmers join petition for DAR revamp

Feb. 03, 2008

Farmers from Bukidnon and Davao Oriental joined some 3,000 farmers in the country to protest against what they call as weak leadership of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) that led to the slow implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

The farmers demanded for an immediate revamp within the DAR so that agrarian cases that have dragged on for years, can be resolved.

The fate of hundreds of actual and potential agrarian reform beneficiaries is hanging in balance because their cases are not being resolved, said Task Force Mapalad president Jose Rodito Angeles. The local DAR officials are no longer obeying orders from the DAR central office, and (Agrarian Reform) Secretary (Nasser) Pangandaman does not seem to care whether his orders and instructions are obeyed or not.

Angeles cited many cases of CLOA (certificate of landownership award) holders being kept off their lands, or their CLOAs not registered with the Register of Deeds.

The distribution of landholdings supposed to be covered by CARP in Negros and other parts of the country did not push through, while the CARP process in the landholdings of the Arroyo clan, such as Hacienda Bacan in Isabela and Hacienda Grande in La Castellana, has not been moving for years, he said.

We have held countless dialogues with Secretary Pangandaman and Undersecretary for field Operations Narciso Nieto. We have formulated a number of plans. Pangandaman and Nieto have been issuing memorandums, special orders, and other instructions to local DAR officials to address the long-pending cases, but the local DAR officials simply ignore them. That only shows Pangandaman’s weak leadership. We are tired of dialogues. We want a thorough revamp of the DAR leadership, said Angeles.

Bukidnon farmers also criticised Pangandaman for granting CARP exemption to the 1,178-hectare Fortich Farms in Valencia City owned by former Bukidnon Governor Carlos Fortich and his sisters Ma. Teresa, Remedios and Pilar.

The property has been issued a notice of coverage and more than 200 farmers clamour for its distribution. But Pangandaman chose to protect the interest of the landowner instead of promoting the welfare and interest of the farmers, said Oscar Maniego, spokesperson of the Alliance of Landless and Rural Poor in Bukidnon.

He said that members of Fortich Farms Landless Farmers Association (FFLFA) had earlier petitioned 800 hectares of the property for distribution.

Maniego said that in approving the exemption of Fortich Farms, Pangandaman ignored the law and the demand of farmers for land.

Another unresolved case included the Arcal estate in Barangay Magdug, Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental, where 17 farmer-beneficiaries belonging to Magdug Farmers and Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (MFARBA) are holders of a collective CLOA since December 1998, but they are still being kept off from it.

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