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PARC to look into AVAs at the grassroots level

news reg 1 pix 1 feb. 1 2017DAVAO CITY, Feb. 1 - In line with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s directive and the Department of Agrarian Reform’s policy thrust in protecting the rights and welfare of farmers, including the 12,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) who have entered into Agribusiness Venture Agreements (AVAs) with some landlord-oligarchs, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) is conducting a three-day ARBs’ forum on the implementation of AVA in Davao City from Feb. 1-3.

The forum is an offshoot of Pres. Duterte’s directive to review all AVA contracts after he approved the revocation of contract between the Marsman Estate Plantation, Inc. (MEPI) and the Davao Marsman Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development Cooperative (DAMARBDEVCO) last Sept. 12 at the 35th PARC meeting.

Recently, DAR issued a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) against Lapanday Foods Corp. after members of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (MARBAI) sought for DAR’s intervention as they were forcibly evicted from the 145-hectare banana plantation last December. This land was previously awarded under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in 1996 and was successfully turned over to the MARBAI farmers last Dec. 19.

MARBAI as a legal entity was never a party to the AVA that Lapanday inked with the original landowner Hilo Plantations, Inc. (HPI) and the cooperative, Hijo Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperation 1 (HEARBCO 1). Majority of HEARBCO 1 farm workers rejected the renegotiated contract with Lapanday because they consider it as “highly disadvantageous,” according to DAR Undersecretary for Field Operations Atty. Marcos Risonar.

In the 26-year existence of AVAs, there are reports that ARBs have not been successful in their partnerships with investors as exemplified by the Lapanday vs MARBAI case. A study of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) in 2016 revealed that successful arrangements among ARBs and investors were limited. ARBs, who specifically entered into long term lease contracts for more than 20 years were not able to enjoy benefits from land ownership.

AVA is a form of non-land transfer scheme where farm lots are awarded to beneficiaries in paper but control over land use and production remain with companies or private entities. This essentially defeats the goal and spirit of agrarian reform program that is to empower the ARBs.

Data submitted to the PARC secretariat by DAR Regional Directors and Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officers (PARPOs) show that there are more than 12,000 ARBs, mostly from Regions IX, XI, XII and CARAGA, who have entered into various AVA contracts with private companies or investors.

These entrepreneurial collaborations between ARBs and private investors implement an agribusiness venture involving lands that were distributed under CARP. Schemes under AVA include Joint Venture Agreement (JVA), Lease Agreement, Management Contract, Marketing Agreement, and Production or Contract Growing. These are intended to sustain farm operation and enhance the productivity of awarded lands among ARBs considering that commercial farming on a larger scale has been more efficient especially with the use of modern farming technology.

Agrarian reform chief and PARC Vice Chairperson Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, upon assuming office in July 2016, suspended Administrative Order No. 4 or the Rules on Agribusiness Venture Agreements due to numerous issues encountered.

The PARC, as the highest policy making body of the CARP, seeks to gain first-hand information and actual experiences of ARBs as they enter into contracts or agreements with private investors in the three-day forum. Recommendations from this forum would be PARC’s cornerstone in formulating appropriate policy direction for AVA implementation.

“It’s timely for the PARC to flex its muscles and review onerous contracts under AVA to give justice to thousands of ARBs who were deprived with the fruits of their labor,” said PARC Secretariat Director James Ponce.

Around 29 ARB cooperatives and associations, 14 Provincial Agrarian Reform Coordinating Committee (PARCCOM) Chairpersons, regional and provincial AVA point persons, officials from the DAR, and the PARC Secretariat are expected to attend the forum. Workshops are set in place to ensure that participants can thoroughly express their experiences.

Region XI News

news reg 1 pix 1 july 19 2017
July 18, 2017 111

Marsman, farmers at a standoff

TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte (July 18, 2017)—The second round of talks conducted by the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council Executive Committee (PARC Excom) between the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) and banana business giant Marsman Estate Plantation… Read More..
Jun 14, 2017 129

DAR installs 160 farmers in ComVal banana land, evicts…

MANILA — Not all “occupation” movements are made equal.The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) ended up having to lead moves to evict “squatters” in government-awarded farmlands in Compostela Valley to make way for actual identified agrarian reform… Read More..
May 31, 2017 144

MARBAI farmers back DAR officials in graft case filed by…

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 May) – Farmers belonging to Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. in Barangay Madaum, Tagum City have thrown their support behind two embattled officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). Read More..
May 31, 2017 161

MARBAI to DAR: survey the land, get rid of Lapanday guards

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The recently reinstated farmers from the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Inc., are calling on the Department of Agrarian Reform to proceed with the survey of the 145 hectare-Sanid Farm in Barangay San Isidro, Madaum in Tagum… Read More..

Region 11 Calendar of Activities