TAGUM CITY, Philippines – The 159 farmers occupying a land area used by banana exporter Lapanday Foods Corporation are its rightful owners.

This, after the Department of Agrarian Reform asserted that the two parties in the land dispute must respect the cease and desist order (CDO) issued by Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano.

The CDO which was released last Dec. 14, prohibited Lapanday “from forcibly evicting the members of petitioner Marbai from the subject landholding and from disturbing their peaceful possession and occupation of the subject property.”

“By virtue of the approval of the compromise agreement, this area belongs to Marbai in so far as program implementation is concerned. Marbai members are the agrarian reform beneficiaries in the Sanid area,” DAR Undersecretary Luis Pangulayan told Davao Today in an interview on Monday.

Pangulayan said the compromise agreement between the Hijo Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative-1 and Lapanday was made in court, which he said “has no jurisdiction” in implementing agrarian reform in the country.

“Only the DAR has the primary, exclusive, original jurisdiction in resolving agrarian dispute such as this, not the Regional Trial Court, not the Municipal Trial Court, not the Court of Appeals, not the Supreme Court,” he said.

Pangulayan said the court only ruled in favor of the validity of the “private contractual relationship between Lapanday and (Hearbco 1).”

“And that thing is valid only in so far as these two entities are concerned with that contract,” he said.

Pangulayan said DAR also issued a ruling in favor of Marbai on who will till the Sanid area.

“The last thing standing and valid is that agreement between Hearbco-1 and Marbai and this is the reason why Sec. Mariano issued a cease and desist order to respect what was agreed upon and the DAR’s ruling,” he said.

DAR also ordered the Sheriff of the DAR Regional Office 11 to supervise the harvest of the banana products in the area “until such time that this case is finally decided on the merits.”

Pangulayan joined the dialogue between the Lapanday and the farmers at the Christ the King Chapel located inside the San Isidro (Sanid) farm area in Barangay Madaum here on Monday afternoon.

The dialogue was scheduled by the city’s crisis and management committee and was lead by Tagum City Mayor Allan Rellon.

Members of Hearbco-1, local village officials, government officials from the provincial and Region 11 DAR offices, Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, were also present during the dialogue.

Pangulayan also told Lapanday’s legal counsel Atty. Leilani Espejo to communicate with the sheriff if they want to send a representative to know how many boxes of bananas were harvested.

“Please communicate directly with the Sheriff, we want to know who he or she is, what he or she will do, and that he or she is unarmed,” he said, adding that the said representative from Lapanday should only be there for recording purposes.

Police and military forces were also sought to maintain peace and order and to ensure that there will be no untoward incident against the farmers.

Lapanday: we will contest the CDO

Meanwhile, Espejo told Davao Today in an interview that they will contest the CDO in the proper court.

“We will pursue our legal remedies. We do not agree with them and we still have questions on the terms of the harvesting as to who will harvest and to whom the proceeds will go to, it is still unclear for us,” she said.

“We will contest, we will question legally,” she said. (davaotoday.com)

comments powered by Disqus