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Hontiveros calls on DAR to return Roxas and Co. hacienda to farmers

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NASUGBU, Batangas — SENATOR Risa Hontiveros has called on the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to retrieve land ownership from a corporation and return it to the Batangas farmers who were recipients of the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Hontiveros was reacting to complaints by the farmers who said the Roxas and Company Inc., through “legal manuevering”, repossessed the farm lands already awarded to them by DAR under the CARP.

In her privilege speech, Hontiveros cited land ownership reversals in Batangas, where Roxas and Company, had been paid decades ago for the subdivided estate that was awarded to the farmers.

The farmers charged that the corporation was evicting them from the lands given to them by DAR.

“We owe a historical debt to our farmers. The President  said hewill seek permanent solutions to the issues that hound agrarian reform and its implementation. Let us start by addressing these patterns of injustice,” Hontiveros said.

In the Roxas and Company case, she noted that DAR granted the certificates of land ownership to the farmers in 1988, as soon as the CARP was passed into law.

She noted that DAR has continued to cover the land, but its proper procedure of acquisition was not followed,” she said.

However, the farmers conti- nued to live on the land granted to them through the agrarian reform. 

“Because of the issues of mode of payment, the Supreme Court in 1999 ruled that DAR issued CLOAs (certificates of land ownership awards) without just compensation to Roxas and Company, and nullified the acquisition proceedings over the three haciendas,” Hontiveros said.

The case was remanded to DAR for proper acquisition proceedings, but the case did not move for decades.

“Republic Act 6657, as amended by RA 9700, provides that once a title reaches 10 years. It is already indefeasible and cannot be recovered. Now, the agrarian reform beneficiaries or ARBs  were told they need to leave their land,” Hontiveros said.

The eviction was based on DAR Consolidated Order No. 6 which divides the Roxas and Company landholding equally but apportions to the farmers the less desirable areas of the landholding.

“According to the ARBs my office spoke with, the CLOA holders from all three haciendas may be relocated to a parcel of land on barangay Palico without electricity or potable water, and they were not even consulted on how the land will be divided,” he said.

Hontiveros said what happened is unfair to the farmers. “The farmers were not at fault,” she said.

Hontiveros’ privilege speech was referred to the Committees on Agriculture and Food, and Agrarian Reform. The Senate is expected to call the farmers and officials of the Roxas and Company to a hearing on the issue soon.|– Macon Ramos-Araneta, MS

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