The criminal and administrative complaints filed by Lapanday Foods Corp. (LFC) before the Ombudsman illustrate how landlord-oligarchs use courts to thwart the implementation of genuine agrarian reform, according to agrarian reform chief Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano.
“The suit is a move by LFC to harass officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) who are merely implementing the agrarian reform law and ensuring that the farmer-beneficiaries are in possession of the lands that are legally theirs,” Mariano said.
Attorney Noel Oliver Punzalan, a member of the LFC counsel, sought the preventive suspension of Mariano and Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Luis Meinrado Pañgulayan “due to the seriousness and depravity of the acts they committed.”
This comes after the successful reinstallation of 159 members of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. (MARBAI) to the 145-hectare banana plantation in Tagum City last May 18.
“Lapanday’s contract is not binding to MARBAI as it was executed with HEARBCO-1 (Hijo Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative 1) who already ceded the disputed portion of the banana plantation to MARBAI farmers,” Mariano explained.
DAR served the writ of installation after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte ordered Mariano to proceed with the installation during his visit at the MARBAI farmers’ protest camp in Mendiola Last May 9.
“President Duterte has time and time again warned against the ‘use of courts’ to block the mandate of land reform, which is to distribute land to agrarian reform beneficiaries. We are just following the president’s directives,” Mariano said.
Reports received by DAR on May 20 show that armed security guards of LFC have positioned near the MARBAI farmers' campout with military amphibian vehicles stationed within the 70-meter radius. The farmer-beneficiaries have expressed alarm over their security with fears of being ejected again from their government-awarded lands.
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