Tenants may not be ejected from coco farms in disaster areas

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inquirer netMANILA, Philippines — Coconut farmers unable to pay rent for their farms due to a natural calamity cannot be ejected from the land unless the ejectment is allowed by a court, the Department of Agrarian Reform said Wednesday.
The DAR has issued new guidelines on lease rentals in tenanted coconut land devastated by natural disasters, an official said.
Under Administrative Order No. 2, Series of 2014, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio De Los Reyes directed that “no tenant-lessee should be ejected from his farm holding due to the non-payment of lease rentals as a result of natural calamity unless authorized by court.”
The rules and regulations apply to all tenanted coconut landholdings, with or without a leasehold agreement, the official said in a news release.
De Los Reyes said tenant-lessees affected by a natural disaster, such as a strong typhoon or earthquake, should renegotiate a new leasehold agreement with the landowner with respect to the payment of the lease rental, planting of crops, and change of crops.
If the coconut trees on the landholding are heavily damaged due to a disaster resulting in a crop failure, the tenant-lessee’s security of tenure should be maintained despite his failure to pay lease rentals, the official said.
On the other hand, when the landholding is being rehabilitated, tenant-lessees may re-plant the principal crop (coconut trees) and while it cannot yet bear fruit, the tenant-lessees are allowed to plant other temporary crops on the land, he said.
De Los Reyes added that the affected tenant-lessee should also be allowed to cut and transport coconut trees with the necessary permits secured from the Philippine Coconut Authority.
The net proceeds of the cut coconut trees should be reimbursed to the party who shouldered the expenses after deducting the cost of cutting and hauling and divided between the tenant-lessee and landowner-lessor, he said.
A 75 percent-25 percent ratio in favor of the tenant-lessee will be imposed in case of disagreement, De Los Reyes added.