Del Monte management stops operations in former Ocaya Ranch

MANOLO FORTICH, Bukidnon (MindaNews/31 July) — The management of Del Monte Philippines, Inc. said they immediately stopped operations in a land previously controlled by the family of a former Bukidnon governor in Kuya, Maramag town, according to a DMPI statement sent to MindaNews on July 30.

“DMPI will continue to hold-off any operation or activity in the (former Gov. Timoteo) Ocaya area until authorized by the DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform),” the DMPI added in the statement emailed by lawyer Marco Parpan, DMPI plantation labor relations and legal services manager.

Parpan sent the email to MindaNews in response to an inquiry here on July 29, following reports a hundred farmers pitched tents and occupied portions of the Ocaya Ranch in Barangay Kuya, Maramag town in Bukidnon to protest its having been leased to DMPI instead of being distributed to them.

MindaNews reported on July 26 that Oscar Manego, leader of the Danggawan Landless Farmers Association, said they will continue staking it out at the 100-hectare Ocaya Ranch until officials from the Department of Agrarian Reform in Region 10 dialogue with them.

Manego said they were  protesting why DMPI  was able to lease the farm from the Ocayas despite a DAR Notice of Coverage issued by Assistant Secretary Dominador Andres in 2008.

The DMPI statement, which Parpan e-mailed, said they immediately stopped operations after being advised by DAR-South Bukidnon that the Ocaya Ranch had been placed under coverage of CARP (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program) and that there is an ongoing process of selecting farmer-beneficiaries.

Manego said in his earlier statement that the DAR had released Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) to 16 beneficiaries covering 45 hectares of the Ocaya farm.

The turnover of the remaining 55 hectares, he added, was deferred after the processing of the final list of beneficiaries was delayed.

Manego said DMPI had deployed heavy equipment at the Ocaya farm for the start of its pineapple production.

Parpan said in an SMS Saturdaythat  DMPI has been conducting clearing operations in the area when the DAR advisory came to their attention. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)