THE clearing of the makeshift tent of farmers outside the Provincial Capitol building in Bacolod City has nothing to do with the ongoing negotiation between them and the Provincial Government.
This was stressed on Monday by Stephen Leonidas, director of Department of Agrarian Reform-Negros Island Region (DAR-NIR), who said the farmers willingly cleared the makeshift structure, which they occupied for several months.
The farmers, who were re-claiming a portion of the Capitol-owned Negros First Ranch at Hacienda Ilimnan in Barangay Sta. Rosa, Murcia, have set up camp outside the provincial government building since July 15 last year as they sought to have a dialogue with Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., who refused to entertain them.
Leonidas said they left because the city government is expected to demolish shanties as part of the clearing operations for the hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meetings in Bacolod next March.
The City Government has jurisdiction over public roads since these are not properties of the province.
“They pulled out from the area, but it has no relation with the negotiation between them and the Capitol,” Leonidas said.
He said he met with Marañon two weeks ago to come up with a win-win solution on the matter involving the Capitol’s 147-hectare property in Murcia.
Leonidas said the governor initially offered 3.65 hectares to the farmers, but they turned down the proposal. Marañon then proposed five hectares, and the farmers agreed to it.
However, the governor has yet to formalize the offer, Leonidas said.
He added that he will meet again with Marañon to outline plans to help the farmers.
For his part, Marañon said on Monday there was no settlement between the Provincial Government and the farmers, adding that there was no offer of five-hectare land to them.
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.