Farmers elated, but seeks DAR protection over Davao Oriental land grant

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / June 8)  Twenty seven farmer beneficiaries
were happy after the Department of Agrarian Reform announced Thursday
they would be awarded the contested 29-hectare estate in Gov. Generoso
town, Davao Oriental after nine years of wait.

But the group raised fear over their security and would ask the DAR to
protect them from harassments after they would be installed as the
rightful owner of the land, said the Task Force Mapalad, a
non-government organization supporting the farmers.

In a statement released to news organizations, Task Force Mapalad said
DAR “should ensure their safety once they install the beneficiaries at
the ARCAL Estate in Mandug village against any possible harassment
upon their installation on July 13”.Abel Naval, the group’s spokesperson, said the DAR regional director,
Rodolfo Inson, has revealed his decision to install the farmers during
a dialogue with the group that picketed the DAR office Wednesday in
time for the celebration of the 19th anniversary of the Comprehensive
Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

The group did not feel comfortable, however, despite the decision.
Naval said DAR failed to define the mechanism for the protection of
the lives of the beneficiaries against any form of resistance by the
landowners.

The group quoted Inson as saying in the dialogue that “way mahayay,
way basulay” (no regret, no blaming) if the beneficiaries will be
harassed once installed.

“It is nothing but a threatening statement showing a lopsided
political will of DAR to implement the agrarian reform law to its
teeth,” Naval said in the written statement to the media obtained by
MindaNews late Friday afternoon.

Inson told MindaNews in an earlier interview that they would
coordinate with the police and the military to secure the
beneficiaries when they would be installed but said that it would only
“up to a certain period”.

“We cannot be there for long to watch over them as they till the
land,” he said when asked by reporters about it Thursday.

He said the DAR has no police power but assure that they can call for
assistance from the police to secure beneficiaries anytime.

Task Force Mapalad said the beneficiaries have been urging the
Department to consider safety measures to secure them fearing that
violence may erupt with the landowner’s security guards.
Felipe Neri Esclito, spokesperson of the beneficiaries, was quoted in
the press statement as saying that security personnel of the Arcal
estate harassed them when they entered the property in September last
year.

“DAR should not end its installation process by just physically
appearing during the actual installation, but rather ensure as well
the safety of the lives of beneficiaries beyond until complete peace
of possession is achieved,” Celestino dela Torre, who headed the
beneficiaries association, was quoted as saying.

“Otherwise, such installation is nothing but installing them closer to
their graves,” he added.

Inson said that the contested land is owned by the Garcia family based
here in Davao City. The landowners have a pending petition at the
Court of Appeals, contesting a DAR adjudication board decision
clearing the way for the installation.

“It’s a case of double titling,” Inson said.

Nayal told MindaNews in an interview Friday night that there was no
restraining order or temporary injunction issued by any court that
would block the installation.

“So might as well proceed with the installation. If the CA decides in
favor of the owners, then they have to order the farmers to vacate,”
he said.

MindaNews was not able to reach the owners for comments. (Walter I.
Balane / MindaNews)

About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

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