DAR chief orders probe on Luisita

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news national 2 pix 1 dec. 7  2016QUEZON CITY, Dec. 7 – Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano has ordered a team of agrarian reform officials to meet with farmer-beneficiaries on Dec. 14 to 15 to discuss the issues that arose in the past week at Hacienda Luisita.

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) will mediate between the opposing parties on Dec. 19 as decided upon by Mariano and other DAR officials during their meeting with Region III Director Arnel Dizon and the Provincial Agrarian Reform Officers of Tarlac last Dec. 6 at the DAR Central Office.

Mariano immediately ordered the investigation of the recent incident in the disputed land to enforce the status quo order that he issued in his first day of office last July 1. The order states that no person should commit acts leading to the dispossession of farmers presently occupying the subject landholdings regardless as to whether or not they are holders of Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA).
Amid the series of protest-dialogues held at the Hacienda Luisita and the DAR since Mariano was appointed as agrarian reform chief, numerous conflicts between local farmers’ groups have been reported due to the land distribution concerns in the area.

In the dialogue between the farmers and the DAR Provincial Office in Tarlac City last Nov. 29, farmer groups have called on Mariano to resolve the dispute immediately.

“We need the cooperation and assistance of all the stakeholders and the police in implementing the DAR’s status quo order. The farmers there have continuously suffered despite the land reform programs of previous administrations. Our duty is to defend and assert their rights by keeping them on the lands they till,” Mariano declared.