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Mariano orders investigation, fast resolution of land dispute in Negros

news reg 1 pix 1 jan. 31 2017NEGROS OCCIDENTAL – Farmers’ blood yet again spilled over Negros, considered the bastion of haciendas, when a lone assailant fired gunshots at a disputed area in Barangay San Benito, Calatrava leaving 48-year-old Wenceslao Pacquiao dead and Rebeco Paubaya wounded, January 25.

Agrarian reform chief Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano directed Negros Island Regional Director Stephen Leonidas to investigate and fast track the resolution of the land dispute where the victims’ farms are situated to give them justice.

“Necessary steps to hasten the resolution of agrarian disputes are in place to avoid the death of another farmer in cold blood,” said Mariano.

Reports received by DAR disclosed that Pacquiao and Paubaya were cultivating their lands when an unidentified armed man fired the shots. Pacquiao was a member of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Negros.

The land in question was originally owned by Angelina Bruce Laguda and is currently leased to several farmers by Agustilo Hullesa. She opted to sell the land through the Voluntary Offer to Sell (VOS) scheme which allowed DAR to process land distribution to qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries.

Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) were then distributed to beneficiaries but farmers who were not included in the list – Pacquiao and Paubaya being one of these tillers, challenged it.

The shooting happened while the issued CLOA is questioned before the DAR.

Earlier this year, Alexander Ceballos also a farmer from Negros, sustained a headshot that led to his death.

Since Mariano assumed office in July 2016, he promised to protect the rights and welfare of farmers. “We want to welcome the sunrise with lands in the hands and control of the farmers, but we certainly do not want to see the sunset with death of a fellow farmer,” Mariano added.

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