DAR chief faces his baptism by fire, leads task force

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news national 2 pix 1 august 23 2016AGRARIAN Reform Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano will have his baptism by fire when he leads a task force that will determine and identify the true beneficiaries of the 316-hectare agricultural land in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental that had been placed under the coverage of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

This developed after Malacanang granted “in part” the motion for reconsideration filed by a group of farmers headed by Julito Caduhada, seeking the revalidation of the eligibility of the 106 farmer-beneficiaries, who were earlier issued with certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs).

To serve as his deputy is lawyer Marcos D. Risonar Jr, with lawyer Elmer N. Distor heading the list of eight member-representatives, two from the Field Operations Office, two from the Legal Affairs Office, one from the Bureau of Land Tenure Improvement, one from the Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance.

Mariano formed the team called “Task Force ABC” after the Office of the President remanded to his office the case involving two groups of farmer-beneficiaries, whose eligibility is placed under question. Both are claiming themselves as legitimate beneficiaries of the property previously owned by the MJ Lacson Development Co., Inc (MJ Lacson).

The two groups of farmer-beneficiaries are the “Asosasyon Benepisyaryo Reporma Agraryo San Magallon San Isidro (Abramsil)” and the “Crossing Magallon Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Inc. (Cmarb-Mpci).”

In a six-page decision dated June 15, 2016, the Office of the President directed the DAR Secretary to determine the eligibility of the 98 farmer-beneficiaries, who were installed in the disputed MJ Lacson property in March 2013.

Malacanang apparently found their eligibility not in conformity with Sections 22 and 22-A of the Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL). Besides, they also went too far when they forcibly occupied the property.

Section 22 identifies the qualified beneficiaries, while Section 22-A sets the order of priority of the qualified beneficiaries, starting with the “agricultural lessees and share tenants and regular farmworkers, each entitled to a maximum of three hectares.

The other beneficiaries on the list, seasonal farmworkers, other farmworkers, actual tillers or occupants of public lands, collectives or cooperatives of the above beneficiaries and other directly working on the farm, are considered but only after the three prioritized beneficiaries mentioned above have received their fair shares of the property.