Agrarian reform beneficiaries to seek Duterte’s intervention as “last resort”  

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 23 April) —  After failing to serve the Department of Agrarian Reform’s “writ of installation” twice last week, farmer-members of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. will seek the intervention of President Rodrigo Duterte as last resort to reclaim the disputed 145-hectare banana plantation in Brgy. Madaum, Tagum City from the management of Lapanday Foods Corp. (LFC).

In a telephone interview Sunday, Linda Dayahan, member of the board of MARBAI, said they will seek help from Duterte against the LFC who refused to honor the writ of installation issued by Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano for the second time last week.

The contested property is part of the 1,323.9272 hectares previously owned by Hijo Plantation Inc. and awarded to the Hijo Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative-1 (HEARBCO-1) in 1996. The MARBAI broke away in 2010.

Mariano was supposed to execute the writ on April 17 but did not succeed when police authorities refused to provide assistance due to some questions of technicalities in DAR’s order, including the lack of operation plan.

“Our message to Duterte is that we hope he would hear us out in this dispute, so we could go back to our land. Even he himself said that farmers must be honored because they are the ones who provide food. Without us, we would all go hungry,” she said in Cebuano.

She said they would continue to assert their rights over the disputed land and even warned the 159 farmers would risk entering the barricaded plantation despite the presence of some 800 armed guards.

In a statement on Tuesday, LFC opposed DAR’s order as the disputed property was awarded to HEARBCO-1 members and added it cannot “be dispossessed of the land and its existing management contract over the area” because Davao City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 14 approved the Compromise Agreement between LFC and HEARBCO-1.

RTC Branch 14 issued a Writ of Execution on December 9, 2015 and Alias Writ of Execution on November 21, 2016.It said the court recognize and upheld the company’s right to manage and possess the contested land area.

“This DAR action defies the final and executory orders of the Court. Ironically, the members of this breakaway group participated in the resolution of the legal dispute. Thus, they are bound by the subsequent legal orders that have now become final and executory,” it added.

MARBAI chair Mely Yu and her group were former officers and members of the HEARBCO-1 before they were removed in 2010 and were replaced by a new set of officers.

In January 2011, Yu and her group were banned from entering the premises by the security guards of HEARBCO 1. They formed MARBAI, which consisted of 157 members, and filed a petition for reinstatement and accounting of harvest against HEARBCO 1.

On October 18, 1999, HEARBCO 1 entered into a Banana Sales and Marketing Agreement (BSMA) with Hijo Plantation for a period of 10 years starting October 18, 1999 up to September 2009 at a price of $2.10 per box at 13 kilograms per box.

Thereafter, a Deed of Assignment of Banana Sales and Marketing Agreement was executed by and between Hijo Plantation, Inc. and Global Fruits Corporation.

But the following day, October 19, a supplemental agreement was entered into by and between Lapanday Foods Corporation and HEARBCO 1, amending the BSMA executed between the coop, Hijo Plantation and Global Fruits Corp. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)