Hacienda Luisita farmers confer with Mariano and his officials

news national 1 pix 1 feb. 15 2017TARLAC CITY (Feb. 15, 2017)—Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael Mariano directed the department’s field operations office to conduct validation of farmer-beneficiaries and the [DAR] regional office to give farmers free legal advice and to take the necessary steps in resolving problems in agrarian matters.

Mariano promised to look into all of their concerns on agrarian matters. “The doors of the department are open for you. We will hear your problems on land and farming and provide support services to increase tour productivity,” Mariano said.

In a dialogue conducted by the DAR conducted yesterday, more than 200 farmers in Barangay Balete aired their issues and concerns to the Secretary and his officials on agrarian land problems and to ask for support services in tilling their awarded lands.

Undersecretary for field operations Marcos Risonar Jr. said they will start conducting the validation process of the beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita this March.

“The validation process is our initial step towards resolving the various issues confronting the 10 barangays of Luisita and its beneficiaries. This process would also determine the lands for distribution and the number of potential beneficiaries,” said Risonar.

Risonar said the validation process involves interviews with farmer-beneficiaries and potential beneficiaries. “Upon interviewing, the farmers should present their proof of identity and proof of relationship with the Hacienda Luisita Inc. and the ARB-cooperatives,” Risonar said.

“However, we would like to stress that the interview is just part of the gathering of information stage. The qualification of the agrarian reform beneficiaries is a long process but we will do our best to speed things up,” said Risonar.

The farmers, who are mostly sugarcane farmers and farmworkers, also asked for fertilizers, farm machines, access to loan, irrigation, farm trainings, modern farm technology, farm tractors, medical support, seeds, and livelihood projects.news national 1 pix 2 feb. 15 2017

Undersecretary for support services Rosalina Bistoyong assured the farmers that the department has lined up projects and programs to help them in their farming needs.

She said under the Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support (ARCCESS), 10 farm tractors would be given to them to ensure the productivity of their lands.

“Before the month of March ends, 10 farm tractors will be turned over to your agrarian cooperatives. It is important that you are a member of agrarian reform beneficiary organization (ARBOs) to be able to use the tractors,” Bistoyong said. 

“You can also avail of credit assistance through the agrarian production credit program (APCP) of the DAR with the Land Bank,” said Bistoyong.

She said under the APCP, ARB household members, particularly those who have recently acquired their landholdings through the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) will be provided with loans for crop production.  These loans will be coursed through ARB organizations and farmer organizations (other than ARBOs) that shall act as credit conduits for their respective members.

Bistoyong encouraged the farmers to be a member of farmers’ organizations. She stressed the importance of organizing themselves into ARBOs for faster flow of support services.

news national 1 pix 3 feb. 15 2017“The DAR would be able to help more of you if you are organized into bona fide farmers’ cooperatives. Through your cooperative, projects and programs of the Department like access to credit and livelihood programs will be available for you,” Bistoyong said.

Mariano and his officials was in Tarlac to distribute certificates of land ownership awards to 111 farmers of Hacienda Luisita. (pinky roque)

Photo 1:  Secretary Rafael Mariano

Photo 2:  Undersecretary for field operations Marcos Risonar Jr.

Photo 3:  Undersecretary for support services Rosalina Bistoyong

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Mariano sends love to farmers with CLOAs on hearts day

news national 1 pix 1 feb. 14 2017TARLAC CITY, Feb. 14 – Smiles, hugs and love set the scene at the Balete Covered Court on Valentine’s day after agrarian reform chief Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, along with other Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) officials, distributed certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) to 111 farmers of Hacienda Luisita.

For almost four years, the latest recipients of land titles have been continuously pushed out of their farms after being disqualified in the agrarian reform program for refusing to sign the Application to Purchase and Farmers’ Undertaking (APFU).

According to Mariano, the APFU should not be a ground for disqualifying an individual as beneficiary of land reform. Two weeks ago, DAR released Administrative Order (AO) 1 suspending the guidelines that require farmer-beneficiaries to sign the said document.

In addition, the Secretary announced to uphold the 2012 Supreme Court ruling to install agrarian reform beneficiaries to the sprawling sugar plantation following the recent dialogue with Hacienda Luisita farmers. The 111 farmers will each receive 6,600 square meters of allocated land located in the Asturias, Bantog, Cut-cut, Mabilog, Mapalacsiao, Motrico, Pando and Parang areas according to Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer (PARPO) Ileona Pangilinan.

“Ikinararangal po natin at buong pagpapakumbabang loob nating aangkinin ang laban ng mga manggagawang bukid sa Hacienda Luisita,” he added.

Mariano, who was a representative of the Anakpawis Partylist in the 15th Congress, has been defending and asserting the rights of the Hacienda Luisita farmers ever since his days with peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

Support services for all

Results of the survey done by DAR employees during the CLOA distribution say that majority of the new landowners are in need of state-sponsored services. Among these are seedlings, facilities, machineries, livelihood trainings, capital support and irrigation.

PARPO Pangilinan led the ceremonial turnover of seedlings to the farmer-beneficiaries. The seeds, valued at Php 300,000, were donated by the local unit of the Department of Agriculture.

Undersecretary Rosalina Bistoyong also promised 10 tractors for the 10 barangays of the hacienda to ensure the productivity of the awarded lands and the improvement of the lives of farmers. Reports received by DAR show that a number of farmers belonging to the 111 CLOA recipients have been disenfranchised by the rampant ‘aryendo’ or lease-back system by “opportunists” in the hacienda.news national 1 pix 2 feb. 14 2017

“Malaking hamon ngayon sa mga naiposisyon na pagtulung-tulungan ang pag-ahon sa mga kapwa agrarian reform beneficiaries mula sa sistema ng aryendo,” Mariano said. In his visit to the hacienda last October 2016, the agrarian reform chief announced that DAR will definitely press charges against the ‘aryendadors’ who coerce, lure and swindle beneficiaries into this scheme.

Governor Susan Yap assured the farmers that the provincial government of Tarlac will mobilize its offices to ensure that support services will be provide to the farmers.

Justice for the martyrs

Around 1,000 farmers of the sprawling Tarlac estate witnessed the historic distribution of CLOAs to those who were previously disqualified from the agrarian reform program.

Florida Sibayan, veteran farmer leader and Chairperson of local farmworkers’ organization Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), is among the beneficiaries who received a CLOA. According to her, agrarian struggle in the disputed land took a step forward, however, justice remains to be served for all the victims of human rights abuses in the hacienda.

news national 1 pix 3 feb. 14 2017“Lupa, kapayapaan at hustisya ang aming hiling para sa mga magsasaka ng Luisita,” Sibayan said. Thirteen years ago, seven farmers were brutally murdered when state forces opened fire at the farmers’ protest camp in front of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac.

Mariano enjoined all farmers to never cease calling for justice for the martyrs of the peasant struggle. “Palakasin at pahigpitin ang pagkakaisa ng mga magsasaka. Patuloy nating ikampanya ang paghahanap ng hustisya para sa mga nagbuwis ng buhay sa makauring pakikibaka ng mga magbubukid ng Hacienda Luisita,” he added.

Other officials present in the activity are Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Lucius Malsi, Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Luis Pañgulayan, Undersecretary for Finance Management and Administration Teresita Vistro, Undersecretary for Foreign Assisted and Special Projects Sylvia Mallari and Undersecretary for Field Operations Marcos Risonar.

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1 dead, 4 injured in Capiz shooting incident Mariano orders probe on agrarian dispute

news national 1 pix 1 feb. 12 2017Following the reports on a shooting incident which killed a farmer and injured four in President Roxas town in Capiz, agrarian reform chief Rafael 'Ka Paeng' Mariano ordered the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Region VI office to seek police assistance and immediately conduct an investigation on the incident.

Mariano expressed his condolences to the families of the victims as he condemned the shooting incident. "Necessary steps must be done to prevent further injuries," he added.

The DAR Secretary also instructed Regional Director Gideon Umadhay Jr. and the Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer to probe the land dispute in the Nemencio Tan landholding to prevent bloodshed and more injuries in the agrarian reform-covered land.

Reports from local farmers’ group Task Force Mapalad (TFM) showed that gunmen of Ferdinand Bacanto, administrator of the property, fired gunshots at the group of farmers and Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) holders at around 4 p.m. of February 11. Assailants allegedly used .45 and .357 caliber pistols, according to reports.

Data sent to DAR identified the victims as members of TFM and Bulyog Capiznon, an alliance of super typhoon Yolanda survivors. They were said to be holding a campout protest in Barangay Culilang when they were attacked by the alleged landlord goons.

Orlando Eslana sustained a gunshot wound at the back and was pronounced dead on arrival at the Bailan Hospital in Pontevedra, Capiz. The four other injured were Ana Bocala, Nida Amo, Adel Vergara and Melinda Arroyo who remains in critical condition at the Ilo-ilo hospital.

On ground accounts said that violence is currently escalating in the area. Umadhay said the local police has already dispatched a team and the DAR Central Office is now awaiting the official incident report.

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Win-win solution for Arakan farmers

news national 2 pix 1 feb. 10 2017Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)  Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano  with  the respective Board of Regents and Board of Trustees of  University of Southern Mindanao (USM) and Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology (CFCST) recently agreed  for a win-win solution for the possible distribution of the reserved  property to the Arakan farmers in their  first joint special meeting held at CHED Executive Lounge, U.P. Campus, Diliman, Quezon City.

The meeting was held to resolve the issue on the immediate distribution of the 5,018.3697 hectares of USM and CFCST reservation land to the 2,110 potential farmer beneficiaries  in Arakan, North Cotabato.

Commissioner, CHED/Chair-Designate Ronald L. Adamat, USM President Dr. Francisco Gil Garcia and members of  Board of Regents and Board of Trustees agreed to distribute the unused land of the university to its farmer-occupants as long as the Indigenous people be considered.

Director III Marion Y. Abella assured that the DAR will coordinate with the Barangay Agrarian Reform Committee, Barangay- Local Government Units (LGU) , Municipal LGUof Arakan, North Cotabato  and Civil Society Organizations  within the affected barangay and municipality to settle the issue.

Present during the meeting from the Members of the Board of Regents are  CHED Commissioner of Ronald Adamat, USM President/Vice-Chairperson Francisco Gil.N. Garcia, Hon. Paolo Benigno”BAM” Aquino IV represented by Ms. Shirlyn D. Macasarte, Hon. Ann K. Koper represented by Cong. Jose I. Tejada,  Hon.  Arturo G. Valero, Consuelo A. Tagaro, Hon. Riceli C. Memdoza, Hon. Anthony S. Agravante, Hon. Fernando B. Santander, Hon. Regerick L. Benito.

Mariano led the DAR delegates with Undersecretary for Field Operations Office Marcos D. Risonar Jr., Undersecretary for Foreign Assisted and Special Project Office Sylvia F. Mallari, Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Lucius Jun-jun Malsi,and  Director III Marion Y. Abella.

On January 13, 2017, DAR Undersecretary for Field Operations Office Marcos D. Risonar Jr. with Undersecretary for Foreign Assisted and Special Project Office Sylvia F. Mallari and local government officials convened the 500 farmers from North Cotabato in a consultative dialogue in Davao City.

Photo: from the left Director III Marion Y. Abella (standing), DAR  Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, CHED Commissioner of Ronald Adamat (yellow polo) and USM President/Vice-Chairperson Francisco Gil N. Garcia (blue polo) in their  first joint special meeting held at CHED Executive Lounge, U.P. Campus, Diliman, Quezon City.

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First Joint Special Board Meeting of USM and CFCST

news national 1 pix 1 feb. 10 2017DAR Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano recently attended the First Joint Special Board Meeting between the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), University of Southern Mindanao (USM) and Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology (CFCST)  with their respective Board of Regents and Board of Trustees to resolve the issue on the immediate distribution of the 5,018.3697 hectares of USM and CFCST reservation land  to the 2,110 potential farmer beneficiaries  in Arakan, North Cotabato. The meeting was held at CHED Executive Lounge, U.P. Campus, Diliman, Quezon City.

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