Bukidnon Farmers Ask DAR to Fulfill CARP Commitments

Nov. 12, 2006

BUKIDNON — Some 1,000 farmers belonging to at least 13 organizations yesterday set up camp in front of the Region 10 Office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Cagayan de Oro City to demand that the said department fulfill its commitments on the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in Bukidnon.

The farmers, who came all the way from the cities of Malaybalay and Valencia and the Municipalities of Maramag, Quezon, Kibawe and Damulog said that the local DAR offices have not been acting on the commitments made by DAR Undersecretary for Field Operations Narciso B. Nieto during a dialogue last April 2006.

Farmers said Nieto had earlier instructed the local DAR officials to facilitate the coverage and implementation of CARP in five landholdings of Fortich Farms in Valencia City totaling 1,178 hectares, the Arnoldo Valero Estate also in Valencia City involving 50 hectares of rice land, 958 hectares Cesar M. Fortich ranch in Quezon, the 150-hectare rice land of Central Mindanao University, the 135-hectare Sebastian Farm and the 219-hectare Luis Guingona property both in Malaybalay City, and the 820-hectare Ocaya ranch in Maramag.

Constantino Sales, farmer leader from Fortich Farms in Valencia City said that DAR had not acted on the earlier demand of the Valencia City Joint Task Force for Social Justice to revoke the exemption granted by DAR in 1993 for 756 hectares of the said landholdings. Sales said that the landholdings had been granted exemption under questionable circumstances.

Bernard Biongan, farmer leader of the Task Force Mapalad-Bukidnon, from the Arnoldo Valero Estate said that most of them were already holders of CLT under PD27 of former Pres. Marcos and that for years had been paying amortization direct to the heirs of former landowner in the form of rice harvest share, but DAR local officials hesitant to continue the land distribution coverage through the PD27 mode of acquisition.

In the case of Cesar Fortich Ranch, Michael Tadle, farmer spokesperson under the Southern Bukidnon Federation of Free Farmers (SBFFF) said that the property is covered by Forest and Land Grazing Lease Agreement (FLGLA) until 2018 but the property has not been used for raising cattle instead for planting sugarcane.

Tadle said, similarly like Ocaya Ranch a foreclosed DAR resettlement area is also covered by a pasture lease agreement (PLA), but the property is no longer used for raising cattle. The farmers were asking the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to cancel the PLA.

Tadle added that some of the landowners, especially the Fortiches stiffly resisting CARP coverage on their properties.

We are afraid that unless the DAR acts expeditiously on the problems of the farmers, the situation could get more difficult. We are thus asking DAR for help and for more expeditious action, said Tadle. —-(30)

For more details, please contact:

November 9, 2006

TFM-Bukidnon Secretariat
09282283160 / 09203184177

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