PBGEA: Rule of law should prevail in Tagum land dispute

Dec. 21, 2016

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A group of banana exporters in Mindanao claimed that the rule of law must prevail to settle the issue of the 145-hectare land dispute between the Lapanday Food Corporation and Madaum Agrariam Reform Beneficiaries, Inc.

Aware of its limitations, Stephen Antig, executive director of Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association, told DavaoToday in an emailed interview Tuesday that it does not meddle on the affairs of its members but emphasized that parties must honor the agreements stipulated on the contracts.

“We do not generally meddle in the internal affairs of our members,” Antig said. “In fact, we are not privy to the contents of their contracts.”

Antig believed that “the rule of law should prevail and contracts should be respected.”

On Monday, the Department of Agrarian Reform has issued a cease and desist order in the wake of the ongoing land dispute, recognizing that the 159 farmers are the rightful owners of the disputed land used by Lapanday Foods Corporations.

DAR’s order issued last December 14 was actually a comprise agreement that recognized Marbai members’ ownership of the Sanid area. It also forbids LFC to forcibly evict in the area where Marbai members are occupying.

The dispute between Marbai and Lapanday started way back 1997 when Lapanday and Hijo Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative entered into a Agri-Business Ventures Agreement, which was described by Marbai as “onerous contract.”

Marbai was then part of HEARBCO-1 but decided to split in 2011 due to disagreement on some provisions of the contract.

Marbai members who left HEARBCO-1 were reinstated last December 2015 based on the ruling of Jose Nilo Tillano,  provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator of Davao Del Norte, which the DAR’s cease and desist order upheld. (davaotoday.com)

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