MALAYBALAY CITY – (Bukidnon News/04 December) The Department of Agrarian Reform in South Bukidnon re-installed farmer beneficiaries in a portion of the Ocaya Ranch in Brgy. Kuya, Maramag, Bukidnon, according to a press release by Task Force Mapalad, the group assisting the farmers.
On December 2, Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Norberto Paquingan officiated the installation rite in the area escorted by about 20 policemen and 20 soldiers.
Paquingan said as quoted in the report that he is not taking any chances because they have received reports that the Ocayas beefed up their armed guards in preparation for the reinstallation of the farmers.
As soon as they arrived in the ranch, Paquingan read the reinstallation order and directed farmers to remove the existing barb wire fence.
The farmers immediately removed the fence, entered the ranch, and placed round timbers as post for the new fence, according to Joseph Coles, of TFM.
The farmers, according to the report, were first installed in the area on February 22, after more than 30 years of struggle.
The DAR installed 249 farmer-beneficiaries as the rightful owners of the 48-hectare portion of the 820-hectare cattle ranch, the report added. The ranch was originally covered by a Forest Land Grazing Lease Agreement (FLGLA) but was cancelled by the DENR in 2008 due to reported violations. The DAR has since covered it for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in 2008.
They were forced to leave the area because the armed goons allegedly harassed them in their occupation that lasted only three months, Oscar Maniego, head of the Danggawan Landless Farmers Association said. He cited that some of their huts were burned.
Farmers lauded the DAR- South Bukidnon area for the re-installation.
Maniego said they are happy about the development and hoped they can continue to develop and cultivate their land.
“I hope that the Ocayas and their armed goons will finally realize that we are now the legitimate owners of this land,” he said in the TFM press release.
The report also cited that a certain Joan Arsueli, who said she represents the Ocayas, tried to stop the installation.
She said as quoted in the press release that they have already filed an appeal before the DAR Central Office.
Arsueli said, according to the TFM press release, she and seven others are the legitimate occupants of the area.
Lawyer Wenceslao Magallanes, DAR quick response officer advised her to formally raise the issue before the DAR regional or central office. Magallanes added, as quoted in the press release, that the order is administratively “final and executory.”
At least 10 police personnel and a squad of Army soldiers, he added, will provide security to the farmers for a month or more “depending on the situation.”
The farmers welcomed the security provided. Maniego said they can live peacefully in the area, make the land productive, and build their own houses without fear.
Before the installation, most of the farmers stayed in nearby Barangay Danggawan while some in Barangay Kuya proper, according to the press release. TFM accompanied members of the media to the cattle ranch for the reinstallation.
The DLFA previously applied for a Community-based Forest Management (CBFM) Agreement with the DENR on the same area.
According to a MindaNews report, DAR records showed that the FLGLA was issued to Citadel T. Development Corporation (Citadeco), represented by late Bukidnon Gov. Timoteo Ocaya, on April 17, 1986 and was supposed to expire on December 31, 2011.
But the Dangawan Landless Farmers Association (DLFA) filed a petition to cancel the FLGLA due to some violations. The Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Pangantucan town whose jurisdiction includes Maramag endorsed the cancellation to the regional office and eventually to the national office.
On August 2008, Secretary Atienza ordered the cancellation of the FLGLA after finding that the Ocaya Ranch subleased the area, a violation of the agreement.
Among the other violations cited were low rate stock of cattle, which should accrue to at least one cattle per hectare, and planting corn and sugarcane in several hectares in excess of the 20 hectares allowed for food production.
In October of the same year, the Ocayas, through Remedios Ocaya-Soriano, a daughter of the late governor, submitted a letter of consideration to the DENR but the secretary once again denied the appeal.
Paquingan said that of the total area, 148 hectares were classified as alienable and disposable. But only 48 hectares was covered by the CARP.(Bukidnon News)