Policemen, soldiers help DAR reinstall CARP beneficiaries

on . Posted in DAR In The News
business mirrorASSISTED by heavily armed policemen and soldiers, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on Friday forced its way to Hacienda Matias in San Francisco in Quezon’s Bondoc Peninsula, to reinstall 20 beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

The farmers left their government-awarded land last month because of the alleged threats and intimidation by the former landowners.

During the reinstallation, concrete and steel barriers set up by the former landowners were demolished. Seven persons who have previous cases and are subjects of pending warrants of arrest for obstruction of CARP were also arrested, Agrarian Reform Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Luis M. C. Pañgulayan said.

“The obstruction of installation [of CARP beneficiaries] is a punishable crime under the comprehensive agrarian reform law,” Pañgulayan said.

The reinstalled farmers have started setting up their dwellings in the areas and initial harvest activities started as soon as the farmers were made to occupy their lands, he said.

Hundreds of CARP beneficiaries hesitated to be installed in Hacienda Matias because of the landowners’ resistance. Some farmers identified with the landowners belonging to the Matias family have allegedly resorted to threats and intimidation to drive the CARP beneficiaries away.

“The DAR, the police and the military will be there to protect them. What we need to do is to win the hearts of the people. We need to make them understand that the program aims to provide land to the landless,” he said.

Pañgulayan said the installation of CARP beneficiaries in the area will take place in the ensuing weeks with the assistance of the police and the military.

The communist New People’s Army has a substantial presence in Bondoc Peninsula in the province of Quezon.

To maintain peace and order in the area, a joint police-military detachment and a DAR-led interagency center were set up, he said.

This is to ensure that the support services for the beneficiaries would continue after they have been installed.

Aside from DAR, the interagency center is composed of representatives from the Department of Justice, the Public Attorney Office, the Commission on Human Rights, the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the local government of San Francisco.

During the reinstallation, the Department of Social Welfare and Development also provided food packs to beneficiaries, including those who have not been installed in the CARP-acquired landholdings, formerly owned by the Matias family.

On the other hand, the Department of Agriculture provided the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries with 400 kilos of corn seeds, 50 kilos of peanut seeds and 2,000 of coffee seedlings. Farm implements were also distributed.

On May 15, the DAR led the installation of 26 CARP beneficiaries in landholdings in barangays Don Juan Vercelos and Butanguiad in San Francisco.

A total of 1,715.98 hectares owned by the Matias family have been covered by CARP starting 2004.