DILIMAN, QUEZON CITY (Feb. 24, 2017)—Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael V. Mariano today issued an order to immediately place a total of 727-hectare Hacienda Luisita, Incorporated (HLI) land in Tarlac under the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in his bid to implement genuine agrarian reform program.
Mariano said this is to support President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to fast-tract the distribution of lands to farmer beneficiaries, fulfill DAR’s prime mandate to cover for land reform all available agricultural areas and to implement the Supreme Court’s (SC) 2004 order for the total land distribution of Hacienda Luisita.
In his order, Mariano directed the Provincial and Municipal Agrarian Reform Officers of Tarlac to immediately place the 384-hectare Hacienda Luisita, Incorporated (HLI) land under the coverage of the CARP.
The 384 hectares is part of the 500- hectare property of HLI previously approved for conversion in 1996 and that has been sold, transferred and/or assigned to Centennary Holidays, inc., Luisita Realty Corporation (LRC), Luisita Industrial Park Corporation (LIPCO) and Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), which means that the transferees stepped into the shoes of HLI between the periods of 1998 to 2005.
The 384-hectare property will be subjected to a retention limit rights with a total of 10-hectare retention limit comprising of 5-hectare retention limits each for LRC and RCBC to be deducted leaving a total of 374 to be covered under CARP.
Of the total 500-hectare previously approved for coverage, 116-hectares currently owed by LIPCO were found to be developed indicative of actual industrial development as present.
In addition to the 374 hectares ordered by Ka Paeng for CARP coverage is the 353 hectares in Barangays Balete and Cutcut, also in Hacienda Luisita owned by the Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO).
The TADECO areas were intentionally not included by HLI in the previous land distribution process of DAR. But recent ocular inspection and investigation of the DAR team revealed that the property can be covered by the DAR for distribution to the farmer beneficiaries.
Mariano disclosed that on August 14, 1996, the 500-hectare HLI lands were converted from agricultural into industrial use by virtue of DARCO Conversion Order No. 030601074-764-(95), Series of 1996.
In a letter dated April 25, 2002, which was also reiterated in a letter of August 17, 2016, HLI requested for an extension of time to complete the development of the property for economic reasons.
Mariano said the DAR finds no legal basis to grant an extension period for the development of the subject properties. Twenty years have passed since the issuance of the conversion order.
“Pursuant to Section 65 of R.A. 6657, as amended, the failure to fully implement the conversion plan within five years from the issuance of the DAR conversion order, or any violation of the conditions of the conversion order, in the event such failure or violation was due to the fault of the applicant, shall cause the land subject thereof to automatically be covered by CARP, subject to the right of retention” he said.
Mariano added that Section 11 of DAR administrative Order No.07, Series of 2011 states that the DAR may cancel or withdraw authorization for land use conversion, based on misrepresentation or concealment of material facts in the application, failure to implement and complete the land development of the area within the specified time and any other violations of the rules and regulations which are material to the grant of the conversion order.
“The order in Hacienda Luisita would give justice to farmer-tenants who have struggled to take the land due to them for more than a quarter of a century, ever since agrarian reform was introduced in the country,” Mariano said.
The former leader of the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and three-term legislator of Anakpawis Partylist had consistently supported Hacienda Luisita farmworkers, especially during the historic People’s Strike 13 years ago.
In 2004, seven people were killed and 121 injured—32 from gunshot wounds—as a result of management’s violent dispersal of the striking farm workers of the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), including its union officers. It is now known as the “Hacienda Luisita massacre”.
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