AFTER hearing the sides of both the farmers and Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., Department Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael Mariano said his office will issue this week a resolution on the motion for reconsideration filed by the Provincial Government.
The Capitol had requested for the Carp exclusion of the 159-hectare property in Barangay Sta. Rosa, Murcia town, but the DAR had earlier denied the petition.
Mariano had a dialogue with some 30 farmer-members of the Hacienda Ilimnan Farm Workers Association at the Bacolod Pavillon Hotel last Saturday morning.
Before that, he visited farmer-protesters who are camping out outside the Provincial Capitol Building in Bacolod City for a month already.
They are calling on the provincial government to allow them to recultivate the 12-hectare portion of the property which the province has purchased for the establishment of the Negros First Ranch.
Mariano then proceeded to the Provincial Capitol for a closed-door meeting with the Marañon and Provincial Legal Officer Jose Maria Valencia, who presented to him and other DAR officials the province’s current operation in the area.
“It was a positive dialogue as we are able to personally listen to the concerns of the farmers as well as to the provincial government,” the DAR chief said, adding that as to the agency’s decision on the matter, “let us wait for the resolution this week.”
Mariano had earlier said that they are in the process of investigating complaints against Marañon on the alleged unjust eviction of farmers to develop the said livestock farm.
This is amid the decision of the Land Use Case Division of DAR’s Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance denying the provincial government’s petition for exemption, he added.
Danilo Tabura, chairman of the Barangay-wide Farmers and Farmworkers Association, said the national government has finally responded to their call.
The group had earlier sent a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte seeking assistance for their plight, including the alleged presence of military and police in the area which caused fear to the residents.
“We are hoping that DAR’s decision will again be favorable to the farmers,” Tabura said, adding that as long as there is no resolution, they will continue to camp out at the Capitol premises.
Whatever the decision is, the group is also mulling to file another complaint against Marañon for the disturbance created by the Provincial Government in the livelihood of the farmers since 2010, he also said.
For his part, DA-Negros Island Region Director Stephen Leonidas said that if the decision would favor the farmers, it will still take time for the agency to complete the coverage or distribution as it will have to go through the process.
Meanwhile, in terms of land acquisition and distribution, NIR has the largest balance in the country.
DA-NIR records showed that the region still has about 101, 000 hectares of land for distribution Carp. Of which, 91,000 hectares are in Negros Occidental under 3 500 landholdings.
Mariano said the passage of the House Bill No. 252, or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill would definitely help the new DAR administration in implementing a truly distributive program that will free farmers in the land they till.