CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) will not sue farmers who sold or leased agrarian land they were granted in 2013 at Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano said on Tuesday.
The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (Republic Act No. 6657) prohibits the sale or lease of lands covered by certificates of land ownership award (Cloa) for at least 10 years.
Mariano said the farmers were “forced by circumstances to give in to ‘aryendadors’ (businessmen who rent sugarcane lands) because they did not get any support from past administrations, which covertly supported the resistance and manipulation of landowners.”
Lawsuits, however, are being readied against politicians and traders for buying or renting distributed agrarian lots, Mariano said.
Many farmer-beneficiaries were entitled to 6,600-square-meter lots, which they had not been able to till because these farms were far from where they lived.
They had no hand in determining the location of their lots, which were raffled off via a “tambiolo” (lottery drum) by DAR.
Other farmer-beneficiaries cited financial difficulties and family health problems as their reasons for selling or leasing out their Cloa lots.
Mariano last week canceled these lease-and-purchase contracts, including joint venture deals, after a monthlong validation concluded that the Cloa holders were not in control of the lots for which government paid P470 million to the former landowners, the Cojuangco clan.
Of the 5,031 Cloa holders, the validation found that 2,841 beneficiaries leased their lands, 617 farmers sold their lots and 187 others entered into joint venture arrangements.
“Financiers who coerce, lure and swindle land reform beneficiaries must be charged with obstruction of land reform in Hacienda Luisita,” Mariano said.
Tarlac Rep. Noel Villanueva said people who rented the Cloa lands wanted the lease contracts to be respected and completed so they could recoup their investments.
Inquirer sources said many of those who leased their lands were sugar planters who sold their canes to Central Azucarera de Tarlac, a mill owned by Martin Lorenzo and Fernando Cojuangco since 2015.—TONETTE OREJAS