Thursday, February 26, 2009 [ sunstar.com.ph ]
NEGROS Occidental farmers seeking the distribution of a hacienda owned by First Gentleman Mike Arroyo have asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to order the registration of their Certificate of Land Ownership Award (Cloa).
The call came after the Registry of Deeds in Bacolod City, the Land Registration Authority (LRA) in Quezon City, and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo reportedly ignored the farmers' request.
Task Force Mapalad (TFM) president Jose Rodito Angeles said the farmers are hoping that the DOJ, as a government body having authority over the LRA, "can correct the injustice currently suffered by 68 farmer-beneficiaries of the 157-hectare Hacienda Bacan, located in Barangay Guintubhan, Isabela, Negros Occidental."
"We appeal to Secretary Raul Gonzalez to help the farmer-beneficiaries of Hacienda Bacan. We urge him to compel the LRA to register the Cloa so that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) can formally award them their land," said Angeles.
He said the DAR generated the Cloa last July after the Land Bank of the Philippines issued a memorandum of valuation of the property and a certificate of payment amounting to P42 million in the name of Rivulet Agro-Industrial Corporation, the declared corporate owner of the hacienda.
However, the Registry of Deeds in Bacolod allegedly refused to register the Cloa, saying the payment should have been issued in the name of Mike Arroyo.
The farmers turned to LRA but Administrator Benedicto Ulep also reportedly refused to register the Cloa using the same argument, TFM said.
Last week, the farmers held a march-rally in front of Arroyo's office at LTA Building on Perea Street in Makati City to denounce him for "greedily holding on" to the land, which was in the first place offered to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) under the voluntary offer to sell (VOS) scheme.
However, the farmers were confronted by Arroyo's lawyer, Ruy Rondain, who said Arroyo was not the owner of the property.
Angeles said "the DOJ is the last hope of the farmers after their repeated plea for President Arroyo to order the registration of their Cloa fell on deaf ears."
"If the farmers do not get their land under the Arroyo administration, we will work hard for a sympathetic leader to get elected in 2010 and then we will pursue the case for the distribution of Hacienda Bacan. We wish to remind the Arroyos that they cannot escape the law once they are out of power," said Angeles. (George M. de la Cruz)