QUEZON CITY, Feb. 7 – Responding to several disputes within the ranks of Hacienda Luisita farmers, Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano has called for a meeting with farmer-beneficiaries today at the DAR Central Office to finally put an end to the growing conflict.
Numerous counts of destruction to properties have been reported to DAR in the past months despite a Status Quo Order issued by Mariano in his first day of office last July 1.
“Regardless as to whether or not such persons anchored their claims on the basis of Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA), it is imperative to maintain the status quo that no person should directly or indirectly dispossess or abet the dispossession of farmers presently occupying the land or the destruction of any crops,” the order states.
Furthermore, Mariano has advised all parties involved to refrain from committing acts that would undermine the actions of DAR until a proper determination has been made by the department in this case.
Last January, however, makeshift houses used as headquarters by local farmworkers’ organization Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) were reportedly demolished by alleged goons of the Cojuangco clan, the most recent attack in the “bungkalan” area in Barangay Mapalacsiao.
A weeklong tension between armed goons and AMBALA farmers last December forced the latter to evacuate their cultivation areas.
Amid the series of protest-dialogues held at the sugar plantation since Mariano was appointed as agrarian reform chief, DAR and its regional and provincial offices have been mediating between CLOA holders who became beneficiaries through the “tambiolo” raffle scheme and the longtime tillers of the parcels of land.
These farmers numbering around 100 are expected to meet the DAR Secretary, Undersecretary for Field Operations Marcos Risonar, Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs Elmer Distor, Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Lucius Malsi, Region III Officer-in-charge Regional Director Judita Tungol, and Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Ileona Panglinan today to discuss their issues regarding the ownership of lands in Hacienda Luisita.
“Now, more than ever, we need the peasant movement to be a united front in our fight for genuine agrarian reform. Let us remember who the real enemies are. Let us unite against landlord-oligarchs,” Mariano declared.
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