AGRARIAN Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano will personally lead a task force to determine the true beneficiaries of the 316-hectare agricultural land in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental that was placed under agrarian reform.Calling the task his “baptism of fire,” Mariano said he formed Task Force ABC after the Office of the President remanded to his office the case of two farmers’ groups who are contesting each other’s eligibility for the property previously owned by the M.J. Lacson Development Co. Inc.
Mariano named to the team lawyers Marcos Risonar Jr. and Elmer Distor, who will lead the list of representatives from four DAR offices.
The two groups of farmer-beneficiaries are the Asosasyon Benepisyaryo Reporma Agraryo San Magallon San Isidro (Abramsil) and Crossing Magallon Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative Inc.
This developed after Malacañang granted “in part” the motion for reconsideration filed by a group of farmers, headed by Julito Caduhada, seeking the revalidation of the eligibility of the 106 farmer-beneficiaries, who were earlier issued certificates of land ownership award.
In a June 15 six-page decision, the Office of the President directed Mariano to determine the eligibility of the 98 farmer-beneficiaries, who were installed in the disputed M.J. Lacson property in March 2013.
The Palace apparently found their eligibility not in conformity with Sections 22 and 22-A of Republic Act 6657, or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, after some farmers forcibly occupied the property.
Mariano had earlier vowed to go after big landholders on Negros island and vowed “to free farmer-tenants from the grips of landlord-oligarchs.”
He singled out the island of Negros which accounts for 9,303 hectares of the 59,148.7 hectares that remains undistributed to 16,065 farmer-beneficiaries.
Among the biggest landholdings in Negros that remain untouched are the haciendas of the Araneta family, the Locsin family and the Benedicto, Consing, Gustilo, Montinola, Lopez, Jalandoni, Lacson, Yulo and Montilla clans.
“It [Negros] is the bastion of haciendas where farm workers are still enslaved by hunger and poverty, and are being threatened, shot at and massacred by goons and soldiers,” Mariano said.
DAR is now reviewing two stock distribution options in Negros island and one agribusiness venture agreement in Mindanao, he said.
Other big landlords can be found in Leyte, Isabela, Cagayan Valley, Bicol, Camarines Sur, General Santos City, Region 10, Masbate, Palawan and Southern Luzon, Mariano said.