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Roxas holding firm allowed to dodge land reform

Posted on September 23, 2011 06:39:34 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

THE SUPREME Court has upheld Roxas and Co., Inc.’s ownership of a 21.124-hectare property in Nasugbu, Batangas that had been embroiled in an agrarian reform dispute.

In a ruling promulgated on Sept. 5 and penned by Associate Justice Marian C. del Castillo, the high court’s first division affirmed that 27 parcels of land titled to the holding firm behind the Roxas family’s sugar and property businesses are exempted from Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

The court’s decision is in line with a 2002 exemption awarded by the Department of Agrarian Reform recognizing that these lots had already been reclassified for residential use in the early eighties.

Nineteen petitioners had sought to overturn the state agency’s decision to keep the lots from being handed out to farmers, arguing that a 1993 Sangguniang Bayan resolution had reclassified the area as an agricultural zone and thus superseded older residential zonings.

When the department dismissed their case, the petitioners brought the issue to the Court of Appeals but this was dismissed in April 2005 and again in August 2005 after motions for reconsideration were filed.

In the latest ruling, the Supreme court said: "There is no merit in the petition."

The high court noted the case was related to earlier filings which were already decided in favor of the firm.

"Given this backdrop, we are inclined to uphold the [department’s] …order which granted respondent’s application for exemption…" the court ruling read, noting further that petitioners had resorted to a wrong mode of appeal anyway.

Roxas and Co. shares remained unchanged at P1.11 apiece at the close of trading on Friday.

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