DAR issues CDO vs Metro Safari-A A +A
Monday, April 21, 2014
THE Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has issued a cease and desist order (CDO) against the Metro Safari management for illegally converting three lots located in Barangay Alangilan, Bacolod City into the resort’s site.
DAR regional director Alejandro S. Otacan, in a letter to Cabuga in April 16, said the lots 1581-B-2, 1581-B-3, and 1581-4 are being developed for non-agricultural uses without an approved land use conversion order.
Metro Safari is owned by businessman Rey Francis Cabuga.
Otacan cited DAR Administrative Order No. 1, series of 2002 or the 2002 Comprehensive Rules On Land Use Conversion.
The order states that: “the conversion of agricultural lands to non-agricultural uses shall be strictly regulated and may be allowed only when the conditions prescribed under Republic Act 6657 and/or RA 8435 are present and complied with.”
The illegal conversion of the land is punishable by imprisonment from two to six years or a fine equivalent to 100 percent of the government cost or both at the discretion of the court and an accessory penalty of forfeiture of the land and any improvement, according to Section 11 of RA 8435 (Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act).
RA 9700 (Carp Extension with Reforms Law) also specifies under Section 24, as a prohibited act and omission, “(e) the sale, transfer, conveyance or change of the mature of the land except after the final completion of the appropriate conversion under Section 65 of R.A. 6657 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law as amended.”
Violation to the law requires a penalty of imprisonment from six years and one day to 12 years or a fine of not less than P200,000 and not more than P1 million or both at the discretion of the court is imposed upon any person who violates this provision of the law.
Otacan said that “(c)learly as reports show, premature conversion has been undertaken in those lots which has resulted to the modification or alteration of the physical characteristics of the said agricultural lands to render them suitable for non-agricultural purposes without an approved order of conversion from DAR.”
“In view of the foregoing, your assigns, representatives or any person acting for and in your behalf are hereby enjoined to cease, desist and refrain from further developing the landholdings subject hereof for non-agricultural uses without an approved land use conversion order and to explain in writing within five days from receipt hereof why a criminal case for illegal conversion should not be filed against you,” Otacan said in the letter to Cabuga.
The DAR order came after Alangilan councilman Donard Alimpolo sought the assistance of Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer Harlan T. Tugot, in ascertaining the status of Carp covered lands, if it is can be subjected to sale, conveyances or conversion without violating any agrarian laws of any guidelines of DAR office.
Comply, Cabuga told
Alangilan village chief Rodrigo Jagunap and councilmen Alimpolo and Alex Sausi said in a press briefing Sunday that with the issuance of a CDO against Cabuga, they reiterate their position for the businessman to follow the law and secure the needed permits for his eco-tourism project.
Jagunap said that Cabuga should complete his papers before he develops the project in their barangay. “He needs to legitimize his business because that is the only way that the barangay can benefit from it.”
Alimpolo said that Cabuga should direct his men to stop the construction at the site. “The construction could not be seen on the front because the massive development is being undertaken at the back. They only slowed down before when the Office of the Building Official issued a notice of violation and after a verbal order from Mayor Monico Puentevella to stop the construction.”
Despite the advice of the City Council to stop the construction, Cabuga still continued the construction works, said Alimpolo who, with two other councilmen, also filed a complaint against Cabuga before the City Prosecutor’s Office for violation of the National Building Code.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 21, 2014.