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Sunday, November 13, 2011

DAR Chief Assured Protesting Farmers Resolution on SDO

Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes assured protesting farmers from Hacienda Anita (owned by SVJ Farms) and Hacienda Teresa (owned by 14 Colored Corp.) that the department would facilitate the final resolution of the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) cases pending at the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC).

De los Reyes said that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is expecting to receive the report from the task force formed to study the controversial SDO being offered to farmers under government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

The DAR said the PARC is now waiting for the report of the National Task Force SDO concerning the resolution of at least two SDO cases.

Notices of Coverage for the two properties would only be issued once these cases are resolved by the PARC.

The PARC is an inter-agency council composed of representatives of the various CARP implementing agencies such as the DAR, Department of Agriculture, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Justice, Office of the President, Department of Labor and Employment, National Economic and Development Authority, Land Bank of the Philippines as well as representatives of farmers’ organizations and the landowners.

The 14 Colored Corporations had previously filed their SDO application in May 1990 over Haciendas Teresa and Salamanca located in EB Magalona and La Carlota City, Negros Occidental, respectively, covering a total area of 972.6975 hectares.

After this was denied in August 2002, a motion for reconsideration was filed in July 2003.

According to de los Reyes, when the present management of the DAR assumed office, steps were undertaken to expedite action on this matter, and the PARC Executive Committee (ExeCom) regularly met to discuss and evaluate this matter, among others.

A DAR legal opinion rendered in December 2010 that the SDO application should be denied prompted the creation of the Legal Panel chaired by DOJ Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar in February 2011. After five meetings, the Legal Panel recommended the denial of the SDO application.

The PARC executive committee met last Oct. 26 to act on the legal panel’s recommendation to deny the SDO application. However, it was unable to vote on the matter because the required number of voting members of the committee was not reached.

The next meeting of the PARC ExeCom is scheduled on Nov. 16, 2011 for the sole purpose of acting on SDO application of the 14 Colored Corporation.  According to de los Reyes, in the event that the PARC ExeCom decides on the SDO application, the matter shall then be forwarded to the PARC itself for final decision.

“As much as the DAR wants this matter settled quickly, the highest standards of due process must be observed, both in its substantive and procedural aspects,” said De los Reyes.

With respect to Hacienda Anita, the PARC secretariat endorsed the petition for the revocation of the SDO to the Task Force on SDO last month.

The secretariat is currently awaiting the report of the Task Force, which it expects to be submitted shortly, the DAR chief said. Public Affairs Staff-Department of Agrarian Reform

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