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PIA Press Release

16 farmers jailed for taking possession of land in Davao Oriental

Governor Generoso, Davao Orienral (1 February) -- 16 farmer-beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) were jailed when they entered without authority the landholdings of the ARCAL Development Corporation owned by Antonio Garcia.

Felipe Neri Esclito said that their imprisonment stemmed when they took possession of the property with an area of 29 1823 hectares located at Barangay Magdug this municipality sometime in September 11,2006 in the belief that they already acquired full ownership over the said landholding.

He said that a complaint for grave coercion was filed against them and they were arrested and jailed only on January 25, 2007 by virtue of warrant of arrant issued by the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) Judge Rodolfo Castro on January 23, 2007

He said that they followed in good faith the advise of the Task Force Mapalad (TFM) leaders who told them that they have already won the case that had been long pending before the Court of Appeals (CA) and assured the farmers that there were no more obstacles in entering the said property.

The deceitful and untruthful acts of the TFM leaders have caused their unexpected incarceration said Esclito.

Jaime Ceniza former Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer (MARO) assigned in the area (now Administrative Finance Officer V) said the subject property was placed under the coverage of CARF through a compulsory acquisition scheme in 1997.

He said the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) identified 29 qualified farmer-beneficiaries who were issued Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA).

However he said the CARP farmers were not installed due to vehement objection of the landowner by showing titles issued by the Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR) under the Handog Titulo program subdividing the whole property into ten lots each lot covered with a free patent in favor their children and grandchildren.

This he said complicated the whole process since there was double issuance of titles made by DAR and the DENR.

However, Ceniza said that the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) in its order declared that there was irregularity in the issuance of title by DENR under its Handog Titulo program prompting the landowner to appeal the case to the Court of Appeals (CA).

This was the main issue why the case dragged for a long time, although a decision in favor of CARP farmers were already rendered by the CA and are just waiting for the court's resolution on motion for reconsideration filed by the landowner, said Ceniza.

Regional director Rodolfo Inson who facilitated the farmer's temporary liberty blamed the leaders of TFM for their deceit and held them responsible for having acted in bad faith in instigating the farmer-beneficiaries to prematurely enter the said property.

Meanwhile, Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (PARO) Venchito Mandap has exerted all out efforts in finding ways for the immediate release of the farmer-beneficiaries by appointing legal chief Atty. Joebar Pondoc to act as counsel for the farmers.

Mandap said that the imprisoned farmers were released yesterday (January 30, 2007 at 10:a.m.) after posting bail. (DAR XI,PIA XI) [top]

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