DAR Asserts Jurisdiction Over Disputed Tagum Farm

news national 1 pix 1 april 19 2017Agrarian reform Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano affirmed the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) jurisdiction over the controversial San Isidro (SANID) farm area in Tagum City after local police refused to assist DAR in the installation of farmers yesterday due to technicalities invoked by agribusiness firm Lapanday Foods Corp. on the said landholding.

Representatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region 11 cited their lack of operational plan to assist with the installation and sought clarification from the Davao Regional Trial Court Branch 14 as to whether the Writ of Installation issued by DAR subdues the Writ of Execution issued by the court in November 2016.
Lapanday has stated to continue managing the SANID farm pursuant to the final and executory decision by the court and has argued that DAR’s installation order is null and void.

Mariano, however, stressed the agency’s quasi-judicial powers to adjudicate agrarian reform issues and determine matters involving the implementation of agrarian laws based on the authority vested to DAR as stated in Section 50 of Republic Act No. 6657.

The DAR Secretary likewise urged the Davao del Norte Provincial Police Office to uphold the agency’s decision to distribute the 145-hectare banana plantation to 159 members of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. (MARBAI) since they each own a 0.79-hectare portion of the plantation after receiving a Certificate of Land Ownership Award back in 1996 under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“In cases where the taking of possession of the awarded lands by the ARBs would endanger or imperil their lives, as in the present situation, the DAR shall assume the responsibility for their installation to the awarded property by way of a writ of installation, pursuant to Section 109 of Administrative Order (A.O.) 07-11,” Mariano said.

The writ of installation was issued as a response to a petition filed last Dec. 9 by Mely Yu, chairperson of MARBAI, for an “extremely urgent request for intervention” which was treated as a petition for installation of ARBs amid the recent attacks and harassments suffered by MARBAI members last year.

Lapanday reportedly employed 800 armed security guards yesterday to frustrate the installation and allegedly installed ‘booby traps’ along the fences according to numerous eyewitnesses’ accounts.

According to Mariano, the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO) shall coordinate installation activities that would necessitate the provision of police and/or military forces for assistance as per the existing guidelines stated in a memorandum of agreement executed by DAR, the Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Department of National Defense.

DAR has postponed the installation of agrarian reform beneficiaries in Barangay Madaum to April 21 and ordered the local police to ensure that the security agency employed by Lapanday would not interfere with the department’s rescheduled installation.

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