DAR chief warns landowners against premature conversion
Quezon City (21 July) -- Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes has warned landowners against effecting development activities while awaiting resolution of their applications for land use conversion, or face criminal charges for violating the Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization Act.
Delos Reyes issued the warning after receiving reports about the propensity of some landowners to carry out premature conversion activities during a dialogue with farmer-beneficiaries picketing infront of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Quezon City.
He added that erring landowners may also face forfeiture of bond, a major prerequisite when filing an application for land use conversion. The bond supposedly serves as a deterrent against premature conversion, but it is oftentimes taken for granted by the applicants themselves.
"I will not hesitate to file criminal charges against any landowners found effecting premature conversion while their applications for the same are still pending before my office," Delos Reyes said to a big applause from the picketing farmer-beneficiaries.
Observers noted that land developers usually carry out such activities, which are often described as bullying tactics, as a way of forcing farmer-beneficiaries to give up their stakes at the disputed lands.
Farmer-beneficiaries assailed the EBE Capital Corp., headed by one Edgardo Espiritu, for allegedly bulldozing their farmlots planted with pineapples in Barangay Puting Kahoy, Silang, Cavite despite having no conversion order. A check at the DAR showed that the firm had secured only an exemption order that was issued on January 8, 2010.
Also brought to DAR's attention was the case of EM Ramos & Sons, Inc., headed by one Emerito Ramos, which had allegedly performed development activities based on an alleged conversion order the DAR refused to acknowledge. (DAR) [top]