Clearing of farmers’ tent outside Capitol set

The clearing of the makeshift tent of farmers from Murcia outside the Provincial Capitol Building in Bacolod City is expected to start next week.

The tent was occupied for several months by farmers who were re-claiming a portion of the Capitol-owned Negros First Ranch in Hacienda Ilimnan in Barangay Sta. Rosa, Murcia.

The farmers started to camp out in July 15 last year and sought a dialogue with Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., but the governor refused to entertain the farmers, saying it is useless.

Stephen Leonidas, director of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)-18, said yesterday the farmers have already left the makeshift structure.

He said the city government is expected to demolish the shanties as part of the clearing operations for the hosting of the Association of Southeast Nations (Asean) meetings in March.

Senior Superintendent Jack Wanky, officer-in-charge of Bacolod City Police Office, said he will ask the Bacolod Traffic Authority Office to clear the makeshift structures outside the Capitol building.

The city government has jurisdiction over public roads since these are not properties of the province.

Solution

Meanwhile, Leonidas met yesterday with Marañon to come up with a win-win solution to the issue on the Capitol’s 147-hectare property in Murcia.

He said the governor initially offered 3.65 hectares to the farmers, but they declined the proposal.

The governor then proposed five hectares, and the farmers were amenable to it, Leonidas said.

He added that he is waiting for the go-signal of Marañon to formalize the offer.
Leonidas said the farmers can plant corn and other crops that they can sell to the provincial government.

Earlier, the farmers filed a motion for their immediate installation on the property before the office of DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano, who dismissed the petition of the Capitol to exclude the lot from agrarian reform coverage for lack of merit.

Mariano’s ruling affirmed the May 10 ruling of his predecessor Virgilio de los Reyes.*
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