THE Provincial Government of Negros Occidental is seeking the assistance of Malacañang over its ownership of the 147-hectare property at Barangay Sta. Rosa in Murcia town, a portion of which is being claimed by farmers.
Provincial Legal Officer Jose Maria Valencia said they recently filed an appeal on the Capitol-owned lot before the Office of the President.
“Supposedly, we will file before the Court of Appeals (CA) but under the rules of exhaustion of administrative remedies, we have to go through the Office of President,” Valencia said.
He said that Malacañang will decide if it will sustain the decision of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), denying Capitol’s petition to exclude a part of the property from agrarian reform coverage.
Valencia said he remains confident that the Office of the President will decide in their favor.
“The fact that the property was up for agrarian reform coverage before but it was rejected. And after the province has invested millions to develop the property, they will (just) take it,” he pointed out.
If the Malacañang will deny the appeal of the province, they will go to the CA then the Supreme Court, Valencia said.
Farmers who have been camping outside the Provincial Capitol building in Bacolod City for more than a month now have filed a motion for their immediate installation on the property before the Office of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano.
The DAR chief had dismissed the petition of the Capitol to exclude the lot from agrarian reform coverage for lack of merit, affirming the May 10 ruling of his predecessor Virgilio de los Reyes.
Meanwhile, Valencia met with Senior Superintendent Flynn Dongbo, acting director of Bacolod City Police Office, and Senior Superintendent William Señoron, acting director of Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, the other day to discuss the situation of the rallyists outside the Capitol building.
Valencia said the police were concerned of the safety of the protestors since they are already occupying a portion of the road.
“The City Government has the jurisdiction because that’s a public road of the city and not a private property of the province,” he said. “It’s up to the city to act on it because they are already encroaching the public road and pathway.”
Dongbo said the area is accident-prone and the farmers might get hit by vehicles.
He added that he will also meet with Mayor Evelio Leonardia to talk about the concern.