DAR unfazed by move to stop Luisita land allocation

on . Posted in Online News
philstarMANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agrarian Reform on Wednesday said it will continue the allocation of the parcels of land at Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac despite the move by a farmer's group to stop the process through an Omnibus motion filed before the Supreme Court.

"The Supreme Court has directed us to distribute the land to qualified beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita and we, in the DAR, are following this instruction to the letter. Only the Supreme Court can stop us now from doing our job," DAR Secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes said.

This after AMBALA, one of the four farmers’ groups operating in Luisita, filed its motion to stop the process of land distribution in the vast sugar estate, owned by the family of President Benigno Aquino III.

Delos Reyes said that suspending lot allocation in Hacienda Luisita would only prolong the agony of qualified beneficiaries who expect the farm lots to be awarded to them by September.

"Any order that will stop DAR from proceeding with lot allocation activities in Hacienda Luisita case will set back our timetable in land acquisition and distribution," he added.

"Undue delay in land distribution is definitely not in the best interest of the qualified beneficiaries," he said.

Delos Reyes said he is ready to defend before the High Court all the activities being undertaken by DAR personnel related to the land distribution process in Hacienda Luisita.

"If need be, I am more than willing to be deputized by the Office of the Solicitor General so I can argue before the Supreme Court all the issues raised by AMBALA leaders in their Urgent Motion," he said.

The DAR will submit its comment immediately upon receipt of an official copy of the motion.

Delos Reyes described as “unfair” the proposal of AMBALA that its leaders and members in effect be given preferential treatment in the location of specific farm lots to be awarded to qualified beneficiaries.

"We do not give preferential treatment to any one person or group, nor to those who simply happen to have the loudest voice and who had already staked their claim. We must treat all qualified beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita equally and fairly," he pointed out.

The DAR has started to allocate specific lots to the farmer-beneficiaries using a "tambiolo" (lottery drum).

Delos Reyes noted that the drawing of lots is necessary since hacienda farmworkers, unlike tenants in rice and corn lands, do not work on specific parcels and have no permanent farmlots to claim as their own.

In Hacienda Luisita, the DAR will distribute and divide the 4,099 hectares of land to 6,212 qualified beneficiaries.(By Dennis Carcamo)

Source: http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/07/24/1007971/dar-unfazed-move-stop-luisita-land-allocation