DAR chief assures quick resolution of Sumilao case
Davao City (8 December) -- Agrarian Reform secretary Nasser Pangandaman promised Wednesday of a quick resolution of the controversial 144-hectare farmland previously owned by the Quisumbing family in Sumilao, Bukidnon, which some 150 farmer-claimants wanted to be placed under the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP)
Pangandaman said the early resolution of the case is only but proper since it would enable all concerned parties to move on.
When pressed how long it would take the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to resolve the case, he replied: "I cannot tell you exactly when, but it would be as soon as possible."
Pangandaman made the assurance a day after he personally conducted an ocular inspection in the area where he confirmed claims of farmer-claimants of on-going development works, which are far different from what stated in the conversion order the Supreme Court approved with finality in August 1999.
Five buildings were found to be already constructed two of which were already furnished with feeding devices and other structures for female and male pigs.
Observers said deciding the Sumilao case would not come that easy, considering the stage of development works that are going on in the disputed property, which is being converted into a piggery farm equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.
The whole project would cost the new owner, San Miguel Food Inc. (SMFI), around P3 billion and could generate as many as 4,000 workers/employees, according to SMFI project site manager Nerio Liu. The farm would also have its own feed mill and waste treatment facilities, he added.
Joining Pangandaman in the site inspection were DAR assistant secretary Domingo San Andres, Sumilao Mayor Mary Ann Baula and some members of her Sanguniang Bayan, representatives of the farmer-claimants led by Socrates Bansuela and ABS-CBN Channel 2 television news crew and some local media men.
Before the site inspection, Pangandaman met with the farmer-claimants, who were pressing him revoke or cancel the conversion order, citing alleged violations committed by SMC, which bought the property from the Quimsumbing family in February 2002. they also asked him to immediately place the property under land reform.
Pangandaman later conferred with Gov. Jose Zubiri along with Mayor Bula to discuss possibilities about the contested property.
The farmers were invoking Administrative Order No.1, Series of 2002, which states that the landowner has five years within which to develop the area according to the specifications provided therein. They said it elapsed in 2004.
SMC lawyer Wilfredo Peņaflor, however, insisted that the SMC management is well within the five-year grace period since the development work is supposed to start on the day development permits are secured. In this case he said, it should commence in 2004. (DAR/PIA XI) [top]