DAR adjudicator orders restoration of order in contested CARP land

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/4 March) – Tension in the disputed 111-hectare agrarian reform land in Sitio Palalan in Brgy. Lumbia may start to dissipate after the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) issued a “status quo order” Friday afternoon.

The order seeks to restore the “last actual, peaceful and uncontested status” of the contested agrarian reform land.

Adjudicator Charlito Sabuga-a also ordered the group of Beverly Domo, which had contracted the Dasia Security Agency to occupy the CARP land, “not to harass and disturb the respondents over the subject landholding.” It also directed the provincial sheriff of the DARAB, with the assistance of the Philippine National Police, that the status quo order is executed.

Tension and violence prevailed over the CARP land after the group of Domo entered the area accompanied by security guards armed with high powered rifles last Feb. 15. Domo’s group claimed that they are reasserting their right over the land after getting a favorable ruling from the DARAB on last Jan. 17.

Domo’s group had filed a case for the annulment of the sales of CARP awarded lands to fellow members of the Palalan CARP Farmers Multi-purpose Cooperative (PCFMPC) who are not original agrarian reform beneficiaries, but had just bought the rights over the land from the original beneficiaries.

Among those they want evicted are Andrew Donggay, current chairperson of the PCFMPC, and former chairperson Fernando Bermoy.

Lawyer Florencio Narido Jr., legal counsel of Domo’s group, told MindaNews that they will comply with the DARAB status quo order and the temporary restraining order issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 17 last Wednesday.

Donggay and Bermoy’s group, however, has not retaken possession of their lands as of press time.

Donggay said that they are still planning how to peacefully retake their land. “We will avoid confrontation,” he added.

Senior Supt. Benedicto Lopez, Cagayan de Oro City police director, said that they will assist in ensuring that orders are implemented and would ensure that no violence will happen when this is implemented.

Domo said that while Donggay and Bermoy’s group can retake possession of their landholdings, “we cannot be asked to vacate the land because we are also beneficiaries.”

The status quo order also reprimanded Domo and Narido’s group for executing the Jan. 17 order which, although is in their favor, has not been final and executory yet.

“The decision dated January 17, 2011 is not yet final and executory. Where a motion for reconsideration has not yet been resolved, it is premature to enforce the decision even if it is favorable to herein complainant,” part of the status quo order read.

The DARAB also said that the occupation with the aid of armed men is “patently illegal and absolutely devoid of legal basis. Indeed they have absolutely no right to put the law into their hand.”

The conflict in the Lumbia CARP land stems from differences of the agrarian reform beneficiaries on what to do with their CARP awarded land.

Domo’s group wants to develop the land into a subdivision in partnership with the original owner of the land, the Philippine Veterans Banks.

The Donggay-Bermoy group wants to retain its agricultural use and even developed an organic agriculture farm which supplies fresh, healthful vegetables to nearby SM Mall and nearby groceries.

Another group lead by lawyer Elmer dela Rosa and agrarian reform beneficiary Lino Sajol had already entered into a sale of the land to Diana Biron, wife of Ilo-ilo Rep. Ferjenel Biron, and brokered by Ilo-ilo Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico for P30 million.

This transaction is being contested by both Domo’s and Donggay’s group.

The Palalan CARP land is located at the back of the Lumbia Airport. Residential, commercial and agricultural land uses are competing in the area.

Land value speculation there is expected to intensify further with the completion of the Laguindingan Airport soon and the planned conversion of the Lumbia Airport into an export processing zone. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin / MindaNews)