Twenty farmers shaved their heads on Friday, May 27 as their protests entered on its 4th day of the protest in front of the Regional Office of the Department of Agrarian Reform in Davao City, as they also tore the mock Orders signed by Regional Director Yusoph Mama to dramatize their protest against the deceitful CARP Exemption of Haciendas Bitoon and Bitanagan in Davao Oriental.
DAR Regional Director Mama has committed “grave abuse of authority”, said Salvina Siarot, spokesperson of the Davao Oriental Farmers and Farmworkers Alliance (DOFFA).
Siarot said, the Regional Director is only allowed by law to decide landowners application for CARP exemption to only five (5) hectares and below. Obviously, Mr. Mama issued orders for the CARP exemptions of the 244 HAS. Hacienda Bitoon and the 280 HAS. Hacienda Bitanagan, which should have been the jurisdiction of the DAR Secretary, she lamented.
The protesting farmers revealed that the two Haciendas were already placed under the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, which processes have been ongoing when Mr Mama issued the Orders to exempt said properties from CARP coverage.
Organe Beong, Chairman of Bitanagan Farmers Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (BIFARBA) and one among those who were shaved, said that their group was caught flat-footed on the Orders as they were not duly informed by Mr. Mama, as if it was a hidden transaction at DAR Regional Office.
Beong said that the Regional Office in Region XI failed to furnish copies of the CARP exemption documents to the Center for Land Use Policy Planning Implementation (CLUPPI), a division of DAR that process CARP Exemption Applications, which is the standard policy for applications covering above five (5) hectares.
Beong said, when we ask the Regional Office why they failed to furnish the National Office, they insisted that they will only endorse the documents once the CLUPPI request them to forward the documents. Apparently, it is a gross negligence of responsibility and accountability on the part of the Regional Office, he added.
Celestino dela Torre, Chair of Magdug Farmers Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (MAGFARBA) also lambasted Mr. Mama for aborting their installation in ARCAL estate in Gov Generoso, Davao Oriental set by DAR Provincial Office last May 4, 2011 even without Temporary Restraining Order or Injunction Order from the Court. This is the third time DAR failed to install us since we received our Certificate of Land Ownership Award on December 1998, he lamented.
With the shaving of heads and tearing off the malicious Orders of Mr. Mama, the farmers vowed to scale up their protest action until the DAR Secretary acts to resolve the CARP exemption and CARP implementation issues and demands. (Task Force Mapalad)