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Jan 27th
Home Columns Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. No Legal Obstacle to the Distribution of Arroyo-owned Hacienda Bacan to Farmers
No Legal Obstacle to the Distribution of Arroyo-owned Hacienda Bacan to Farmers PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - This Week With Nene Pimentel
Sunday, 15 February 2009 16:21

T he 92-hectare Hacienda Bacan in Isabela, Negros Occidental, owned by the family of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, is not covered by the suspension of land acquisition under Joint Congressional Resolution l9 which extended the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) by six months.


          This was pointed out today by Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) as he  asked the government to give its final approval of the distribution of the  Hacienda Bacan to the legitimate agrarian reform beneficiaries and remove one of the causes of raging social conflicts in sugarlandia.


          Tenant-farmers from Hacienda Bacan have joined a group of peasants from the Visayas who have resumed street protests in Metro Manila this month to press for the passage a legislation extending CARP by five more years.


Senator Pimentel explained that there is no legal obstacle to the parceling and distribution of the hacienda among the farmers since the Arroyos had voluntarily offered to sell the property to the government as early as 2001.

          “What was temporarily suspended by Joint Resolution l9 was the compulsory acquisition of private lands under CARP. And since Hacienda Bacan was offered to the government under the Voluntary Offer to Sell (VOS) scheme, the resolution could not be invoked to prevent the final turnover of the property to the government for distribution to agrarian reform beneficiaries,” he explained.


          Mr. Pimentel noted that all the requirements for the state takeover of Hacienda Bacan under the law and rules and regulations of the Department of Agrarian Reform had been fully complied with last year In view of this, the Land Bank of the Philippines made deposited P42.3 million as just compensation to the owners.


          “What then is keeping the government from finally disposing of the case of Hacienda Bacan?  The farmers have waited for more than eight years to acquire the agricultural lands that they are legally entitled to.  Nothing can be gained by further delaying the turnover of the property to the farmers except to engender enmity and civil unrest, and cast doubts on the government sincerity to implement CARP,” he said.

T he minority leader lamented that law enforcers had to use force to disperse the rally of a huge group of farmers on Mendiola, the gateway to Malacanang, Thursday night.


          “I denounce the infliction of injuries upon at least 20 landless farmer-demonstrators from Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, lloilo and Leyte who were forcibly dispersed by the police from Mendiola,” Senator Pimentel said.


          “The demonstration was peaceful.  All they wanted to have was a dialogue with the President or some responsible Malacanang official who could address their grievances.”


Senator Pimentel requested Sen. Gregorio Honasan to convene the committee on agrarian reform immediately so that whatever needs to be done to address the concerns of the landless farmer-beneficiaries of CARP may be done soonest.

         During a Senate hearing last November, it was revealed that the DAR’s takeover of Hacienda Bacan was being held back by the refusal of Negros Occidental Register of Deeds Rodolfo Gonzaga to sign the transfer of the property from the  Rivulet Agro-Industrial Corporation, also owned by the Arroyos, to the government.


          Mr. Gonzaga refused to cancel Rivulet’s title to the hacienda and its transfer to the government on the ground that the Land Bank payee should be First Gentleman Arroyo supposedly because of a notation at the back of the land title that Mr. Arroyo had a lien on the property.


          Mr. Pimentel said the Register of Deeds raised a flimsy excuse and disregarded the declaration of trust by Mr. Arroyo that he has no more interest in the hacienda and leaving it up to Rivulet to decide on the disposition of the property. # # #

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Last Updated on Sunday, 15 February 2009 16:22

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