MANILA, Philippines -- Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano will head a task force that will determine which of two contending groups of farmers are the true beneficiaries of a 316-hectare estate in the Negros Occidental town of Moises Padilla.Mariano created “Task Force ABC” on orders from the Office of the President to determine the eligibility of the 98 farmer-beneficiaries installed on the disputed land once owned by MJ Lacson Development Co. after finding this might not conform to Sections 22 and 22-A of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.
Section 22 identifies qualified beneficiaries while Section 22-A sets the order of priority for installation, starting with the “agricultural lessees and share tenants and regular farmworkers,” who are entitled to a maximum of three hectares, followed by other beneficiaries: seasonal farmworkers, other farmworkers, actual tillers or occupants of public lands, collectives or cooperatives of the above beneficiaries and other directly working on the farm.
The farmers also “went too far” when they forcibly occupied the property, the Malacanang decision said.
The Palace partially granted the motion for reconsideration filed by the other farmers’ groups, which has 106 members, all of whom had earlier been issued certificates of land ownership award, for the revalidation of their eligibility.
The team tasked to sort out the differences between theAsosasyon Benepisyaryo Reporma AgraryoSangMagallon San Isidro and the Crossing Magallon Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative Inc. will have eight members: lawyers Marcos D. Risonar Jr. and Elmer N. Distor, two representatives each from DAR’s Field Operations Office and Legal Affairs Office, and one each from the Bureau of Land Tenure Improvement and the Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance.