The Department of Agrarian Reform in Negros Occidental has issued notices of coverage on Lots 1 and 3 consisting of about 205.3 hectares at the provincial government-owned Negros First Ranch in Hacienda Ilimnan, Murcia town, an official of the agency said yesterday.
Maritess Mabunay, Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer for northern Negros Occidental, said they issued the NOCs since the motion filed by the provincial government for the land to be exempted from the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program has not been granted yet.
“We were given (by the national office of DAR) until April 30 to issue NOCs to all land holdings covered under the program”, Mabunay said.
“If the exemption is granted by the Center for Land Use Planning and Implementation, then, the NOCs we issued will become null and void. However, without the exemption, we are allowed by law to proceed”, she added.
The DAR issued the NOCs, not to the provincial government, but to the original owners of the land because DAR records show that there is no annotation on the back of the land title regarding the deed of absolute sale.
Mabunay explained that without the annotation, it is deemed that the land is still owned by the original owners.
She also stressed that the NOC is only an initial step for CARP coverage, which means the farmers cannot take over the land yet, or they will be disqualified from the program.
Rolando Rillo, spokesperson of the National Federation of Sugar Workers, said they are planning to take over the capitol property, which, they said, should have been covered by CARP long ago.
Rillo also said they are planning to file threat charges against Negros Occidental Provincial Police officer-in-charge Senior Supt. Milko Lirazan for allegedly ordering the dispersal of the agrarian reform beneficiaries on Thursday last week.
Lirazan has declined to comment on the matter, although in an earlier statement to the DAILY STAR, he denied the harassment allegations.
Danilo Tabura, one of the farmers at Hacienda Ilimnan, said he has received death threats since they complained about the harassment they experienced.
Tabura said they do not want trouble and only want to own the land that they tilled for years.
DAR Undersecretary for operations, Jose Grageda, vowed to check on the case of hacienda Ilimnan during a visit to Bacolod City last week.