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Mariano declares null and void lands leased or sold by ARBs in Hacienda Luisita

news reg 1 pix 1 april 26 2017Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael V. Mariano declared null and void the selling and leasing out of lands awarded to Hacienda Luisita beneficiaries and threatened to throw the full force of the law against those that would defy his order.

“This is a decisive action (mapagpasyang hakbang) to defend and assert the rights of farmers to own and cultivate their awarded farmlots,” Mariano said.

This in effect placed the vast Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac under the full ownership and control anew of the farmer beneficiaries.

Mariano reminded aryendadors or “buyers” of the said lands of the Rights and Obligations of CLOA holders, such as the 10-year prohibitory period for the buying, leasing and selling of awarded lots.

The Department of Agrarian Reform Central Office (DARCO), Mariano bared, has just finished a month-long ARB validation study covering some 6,212 ARBs that have been awarded a total of 6,884 farm lots located in 10 barangays inside Hacienda Luisita.

“The study revealed that local politicians, utilizing an illicit leaseback system known as aryendo, have duped thousands of cash-strapped agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) of Hacienda Luisita into letting go of farm lots already awarded to them,” Mariano said.

The ARBs had received their Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) from the Department of Agrarian Reform.

But the study, conducted from March 6 to 24 and April 3 to 7, revealed that within the last three years, almost 4,000 ARBs or 83% out of a total of 5,212 Hacienda Luisita ARBs were not in possession of their awarded lands.

The study also showed that aryendadors gained possession of ARB-awarded Hacienda Luisita lands when farmer-beneficiaries faced financial difficulties owing to lack of funds for producing crops or when there was an illness in the family.

 Mariano lambasted local politicians for “preying on the weaknesses of agrarian reform beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita.”

“The practice of aryendo is illegal and a willful and deliberate obstruction in the delivery of the agrarian reform program,” he stressed.

In an executive report submitted by the DAR Central Office (DARCO) Validation Team, Hacienda Luisita ARBs disclosed that investors in Hacienda Luisita, as well as influential personalities and local politicians are the aryendadors that have taken their awarded lands.

The DAR Central Office Validation team was led by Luisita Task Force Chairman and Undersecretary for Field Operations Marcos Risonar, Jr. and Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs Elmer Distor.

Field interviews and verifications made in the course of the study showed that some 2,841 ARBs have leased, mortgaged or rented out their lands.  Majority or around 2,000 of these farmers come from Barangays Mabilog, Pando, and Motrico.

Farmer beneficiaries in Barangay Pando admitted that their awarded lands were leased for P7,000 a year to a prominent political clan in Tarlac province.

Barangays Cutcut II and Motrico have the biggest number of lots sold.

More than 600 ARBs have sold their lots to third-party buyers, while almost 200 ARBs have been made to engage in joint-venture agreements.

Mariano noted that one barangay who has managed to escape the aryendo practice is Barangay Bantog, where some 117 out of 236 ARBs are still actual cultivators of their farm lots that are now devoted to vegetables, rice, and corn production.

“DAR recognizes the sacrifices and efforts of farmer-beneficiaries who remained in possession of their awarded lands. This is to honor and give justice  to the families of vistims of Hacienda Luisita massacre as the Cojuangco Aquino continue to maneuver to circumvent the SC decision.

We urged those who were forced to lease or sell their lots to hold their ground. DAR will help them fight the illegal practice of aryendo,” he said.

#DAR4Farmers #Land4Farmers #PartnerForChange

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