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Mariano warns Lapanday of contempt for agrarian law violations

news reg 3 pix 1 jan. 26 2017DAVAO CITY, Jan. 26 – At the farmers’ campout where thousands gathered to protest for food, land and justice, agrarian reform chief Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano warned the Lapanday Foods Corp. of contempt if the banana farmers in Tagum City are not reinstated to their lands immediately.

Last Dec. 16, amid the wave of attacks on the farmers’ encampment by alleged personnel of Lapanday, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) issued a Cease and Desist Order prohibiting the agribusiness firm from forcibly evicting members of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. (MARBAI) from the banana plantation.

The 145-hectare land that was previously awarded under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in 1996 was successfully turned over by DAR to the MARBAI farmers last Dec. 19. However, they were reportedly dispossessed of their farms 12 days after when around 300 security guards forced them out of the landholdings.

“Dahil malinaw at klaro ang paglabag ng Lapanday sa inilabas nating Cease and Desist Order, pagbabatayan ng aksyon ng DAR ang formal complaint na ihahain ng MARBAI sa pag-file natin ng contempt laban sa Lapanday at sa mga representatives nito,” Mariano said.

In his visit last October, the secretary guaranteed the farmers that he would push for their peaceful installment into their landholdings. A series of assaults to the farmers in December, however, prompted DAR to probe and demand its regional and provincial units to give the appropriate measures.

Lapanday earlier applied for a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injunction order before the Court of Appeals to undermine the Cease and Desist Order issued by DAR. Last Jan. 6, the court denied the application.

Mariano vowed that no one can prevent DAR from installing the farmers to their lands as he vowed to personally lead the installation of farmers. “Umasa po kayo na ang DAR ay laging maninindigan. Hangga’t malakas ang batayan ng magsasaka sa lupa, dapat itong protektahan,” he declared.

All 159 MARBAI farmers have been staging a camp-out protest in front of the banana plantation since Dec. 31. They joined almost 5,000 farmers from the Southern Mindanao region for the four-day protest “Kampuhan sa mga Mag-uuma” in Davao City.

Peasant organizations, agricultural workers and indigenous peoples gathered to support the ongoing peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and to bring their issues on food security, land tenure and social justice at the forefront.

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