DAR launches Farm Business School in So. Cotabato

news national 1 pix 1 april 21 2017The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in South Cotabato recently launched a Farm Business School (FBS) program in Brgy. Lambontong, Surallah to help farmers   build knowledge and skills on agricultural business to make their farms more profitable.

This project came about after the DAR, with the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Agriculture (DA), DA-Agricultural Training Institute, and the local government units signed a memorandum of agreement to help farmer-beneficiaries from Lambontong Vegetable Growers’ Association (LAVEGA) increase their income.

The soon-to-be “farm-entrepreneurs” will undergo 25 sessions of farm business school for a 4-month period where they will learn the business side of agriculture using their own local environment as the FBS program takes the school to the farmers,” FBS point person Melody A. Magbanua.

LAVEGA Chairman Ronaldo Domingo encouraged the members to see the program through to the end as he expects the FBS program to improve their standard of living through farming.  

National FBS Coordinator Norberto Quite from the Bureau of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries’ Development of DAR Central Office, on the other hand,  motivated the participants to use the knowledge they will learn from the FBS program as it would particularly benefit small holder farmers who not only in producing agricultural crops but also on how they can effectively market their produce.news national 1 pix 2 april 21 2017

The other stakeholders also pledged their full support to the program to guarantee its implementation and success.

Farm Business School in South Cotabato had its pilot launching in 2015 at Tampakan, South Cotabato, benefitting the POBUSILLA Multi-Purpose Cooperative, followed by the launching at Brgy. Luhib, Lake Sebu last year. A total of 63 farm-entrepreneurs have since graduated from the program.

Another Farm Business School will be launched by the DAR on May 5th of this year to benefit farmers from T’boli, South Cotabato. (By Kathleen Sespeñe-Pagayon)

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Duterte backs genuine agrarian reform, reappoints Mariano as DAR chief

news national 1 pix 1 april 20 2017President Rodrigo Duterte has reappointed Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano as Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary more than a week after he expressed confidence in the peasant leader’s bid to implement genuine agrarian reform in the country.

Malacañang announced the decision to renew the ad interim appointment of Mariano on April 17 amid the growing call for support from agrarian reform beneficiaries and farmworkers’ groups. The President, during the celebration of a harvest festival in Nueva Ecija last April 5, ensured Mariano of his continuing support as he fast-tracks his programs as agrarian reform chief.

Earlier this month, Mariano was a consultant of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) panel during the fourth round of peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the Netherlands. Both panels have agreed to use free land distribution as the basic principle of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER).

The agrarian reform chief has also continually pushed for the enactment of a genuine agrarian reform law which he believes would rectify the inherent flaws of the existing agrarian reform programs that worsened land monopoly by few landlord-oligarchs.

“We welcome President Duterte’s renewed support in the current DAR administration,” Mariano said. “Our continuing commitment to push for pro-people policies on genuine agrarian reform remains strong with the government’s unwavering support for the poor,” he added.

President Duterte, who also chairs the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), has committed to improve the quality of life farmers and raise their productivity by including land tenure security as a key priority in the 10-point socioeconomic agenda of his administration.

Furthermore, the President has showed support for the proposed two-year moratorium on land use conversion during the PARC meeting last Sept. 12, 2016.

Mariano, along with Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez and Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, was previously bypassed by the Commission on Appointments before Congress went on a session break last March 18.

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DAR asserts jurisdiction over disputed Tagum farm

news national 1 pix 1 april 19 2017Agrarian reform Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano affirmed the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) jurisdiction over the controversial San Isidro (SANID) farm area in Tagum City after local police refused to assist DAR in the installation of farmers yesterday due to technicalities invoked by agribusiness firm Lapanday Foods Corp. on the said landholding.

Representatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region 11 cited their lack of operational plan to assist with the installation and sought clarification from the Davao Regional Trial Court Branch 14 as to whether the Writ of Installation issued by DAR subdues the Writ of Execution issued by the court in November 2016.

Lapanday has stated to continue managing the SANID farm pursuant to the final and executory decision by the court and has argued that DAR’s installation order is null and void.

Mariano, however, stressed the agency’s quasi-judicial powers to adjudicate agrarian reform issues and determine matters involving the implementation of agrarian laws based on the authority vested to DAR as stated in Section 50 of Republic Act No. 6657.

The DAR Secretary likewise urged the Davao del Norte Provincial Police Office to uphold the agency’s decision to distribute the 145-hectare banana plantation to 159 members of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. (MARBAI) since they each own a 0.79-hectare portion of the plantation after receiving a Certificate of Land Ownership Award back in 1996 under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“In cases where the taking of possession of the awarded lands by the ARBs would endanger or imperil their lives, as in the present situation, the DAR shall assume the responsibility for their installation to the awarded property by way of a writ of installation, pursuant to Section 109 of Administrative Order (A.O.) 07-11,” Mariano said.

The writ of installation was issued as a response to a petition filed last Dec. 9 by Mely Yu, chairperson of MARBAI, for an “extremely urgent request for intervention” which was treated as a petition for installation of ARBs amid the recent attacks and harassments suffered by MARBAI members last year.

Lapanday reportedly employed 800 armed security guards yesterday to frustrate the installation and allegedly installed ‘booby traps’ along the fences according to numerous eyewitnesses’ accounts.

According to Mariano, the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO) shall coordinate installation activities that would necessitate the provision of police and/or military forces for assistance as per the existing guidelines stated in a memorandum of agreement executed by DAR, the Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Department of National Defense.

DAR has postponed the installation of agrarian reform beneficiaries in Barangay Madaum to April 21 and ordered the local police to ensure that the security agency employed by Lapanday would not interfere with the department’s rescheduled installation.

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Lack of police assistance stalls farmers’ installation in Tagum

news national 3 pix 1 april 18 2017TAGUM CITY, April 18 – The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has postponed the installation of agrarian reform beneficiaries in Barangay Madaum to April 21 after local police in Davao del Norte refused to mobilize its forces for the said activity.

Agribusiness firm Lapanday Foods Corp., who is currently in control of the San Isidro (SANID) farm area, reportedly deployed 800 armed security guards to barricade the banana plantation and allegedly installed ‘booby traps’ along the fences according to eyewitnesses.

Agrarian reform chief Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano was initially scheduled to install 159 members of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. (MARBAI) to the 145-hectare land but had to postpone to ensure the safety and security of the agrarian reform beneficiaries.

“We will not bow down to this act of aggression by big landlord-oligarchs against our bid to implement genuine agrarian reform. We will ensure that the farmer-beneficiaries will be installed to their rightful lands safely,” Mariano said.

In a press conference held this afternoon, the DAR Secretary explained that the local police invoked technicalities and cited the lack of operational plan for the installation despite meeting with local DAR officials for a pre-installation conference last April 17.

Mariano arrived in Tagum early this morning and met with Davao del Norte Governor Anthony Del Rosario for the “peaceful installation” of MARBAI members. He also talked to Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa to seek help for additional security measures.

The 145-hectare land that was previously awarded under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in 1996 was successfully turned over by DAR to MARBAI farmers last Dec. 19. However, they were reportedly dispossessed of their farms at the end of 2016 when around 300 security guards forced them out of the landholdings.

Lapanday, in addition, stated that it does not recognize DAR’s jurisdiction over the banana plantation and argued that Mariano’s writ of installation is null and void. The agribusiness firm also applied for a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injunction before the Court of Appeals to undermine the Cease and Desist Order issued by Mariano but the court denied the application.

DAR has ordered the police to ensure that the security agency employed by Lapanday would not interfere with the department’s rescheduled installation. Last January, Mariano warned Lapanday of contempt and additional criminal and administrative cases if the banana farmers in Tagum City are not reinstated to their lands immediately.

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Bato orders PNP to assist in farmers’ installation as DAR, Mariano face ‘defiant’ Lapanday

news national 2 pix  1 april 18 2017TAGUM CITY, April 18 – Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, has ordered PNP Davao del Norte to assist in opening the barricaded San Isidro (SANID) farm area after agrarian reform chief Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano sought police assistance for today’s installation of beneficiaries in the said landholding.

Lapanday Foods Corp., through its lawyers, sent a letter to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) stating that it does not recognize its jurisdiction over the banana plantation and argued that Mariano’s installation order is null and void.

The agribusiness firm reportedly employed around 700 armed men to secure the 145-hectare banana plantation and installed ‘booby traps’ near the fence according to eyewitnesses’ accounts.

Thousands of farmers and agricultural workers from the Southern Mindanao region have gathered near the SANID plantation in Madaum, Tagum City to join the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) and DAR as they reclaim the Lapanday farm today.

Reports also show that hundreds of members of peasant organization Bagkus Salug from San Fernando, Bukidnon were blocked by elements of PNP in Kapalong, Davao del Norte as they were traveling to the encampment site to support the installation of farmer beneficiaries.

DAR is set to reinstall 159 farmers belonging to the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. (MARBAI) who were evicted by the agribusiness firm in 2011. Mariano arrived in Tagum earlier this morning and met with Davao del Norte Governor Anthony Del Rosario for the “peaceful installation” of MARBAI members.

In a memorandum dated April 11, the DAR Secretary directed Region XII Director Joseph Orilla and Davao del Norte Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer (PARPO) Jocelyn Sena to conduct a pre-installation meeting with the Provincial Police Office and the Commission on Human Rights. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PNP have committed to deploy 200 men to enforce the writ of installation issued by Mariano.

The order is in response to the “continued defiance of [Lapanday] and all of its officers, employees or persons acting for and in its behalf, to the cease and desist order (CDO) issued by DAR on December 14, 2016,” according to the agrarian reform chief.news national 2 pix 2 april 18 2017

DAR issued a CDO prohibiting the agribusiness firm from forcibly evicting members of MARBAI from the banana plantation amid the series of attacks on the farmers’ encampment by alleged personnel of Lapanday.

“If not restraint, such defiance, will surely impede and frustrate the mandate of DAR to protect the rights and welfare of agrarian reform beneficiaries to own directly or collectively the lands they till or to receive their just share in the case of farmworkers,” Mariano said.

The 145-hectare land that was previously awarded under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in 1996 was successfully turned over by DAR to MARBAI farmers last Dec. 19. However, they were reportedly dispossessed of their farms 12 days after when around 300 security guards forced them out of the landholdings.

Lapanday also applied for a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injunction before the Court of Appeals to undermine the CDO issued by DAR but the court denied the application last Jan. 6.

Mariano affirmed the agency’s quasi-judicial powers to adjudicate agrarian reform issues and determine matters involving the implementation of agrarian laws based on the authority vested to DAR as stated in Section 50 of Republic Act No. 6657 and Section 17, Chapter 4 of Executive Order 220.

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