THE farmer-cooperative of the farms previously owned by business tycoon Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. said they are exercising their right to defend their property.

In a statement, Edgar de la Rama, chair of ECJ Farmworkers Agrarian Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Efarbemco), pointed out that the ECJ Cloa Holders Association (ECJCHA), which they consider a breakaway group, had been hampering their operations since August last year.

De la Rama added that ECJCHA has been ignoring the status quo order of the Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (Parad), which is to stop any illegal entry.

“We treated the matter as a security disturbance hampering operations that required the need for security measures, including clearing out all illegal trespassers and illegal structures,” he said.

The Civil Code provides rights of private property owners, like Efarbemco, to defend their property, he said, adding that the cooperative is “exercising its right to defend their property.”

He also said that their counsel Mitchelle Abella, during the hearing last January 31 at the Parad office, stated that the entry of ECJCHA was “illegal” since the Certificates of Land Ownership Award (Cloas) for the farms are under Efarbemco.

He said the area ECJCHA is claiming to be theirs has been “planted by the coop way before their illegal occupation.”

ECJCHA has a pending counterclaim before Parad, seeking P3.7 million in damages from Efarbemco after they were allegedly forced to vacate from the land over the weekend.

The next hearing has been set on February 8, with officials from central office expected to arrive and “mediate.”