Negros farmers representing 365 workers called on Agrarian Reform Secretary Gil delos Reyes to immediately issue a notice of coverage of the 491-hectare Hacienda Teresa in a protest action inside the agrarian reform office in Quezon City on November 18.
“We have been waiting for 21 years for social justice, “Romeo Española, Hacienda Teresa leader said.
“We humbly ask Sec. delos Reyes to issue the notice of coverage since the application for stocks distribution option of 14-Colored Corporation was already denied in 2002,” Espanola said.
In 1990, 14 Colored Corporation filed for SDO application over Haciendas Teresa and Salamanca located in EB Magalona and La Carlota City, Negros Occidental, respectively, covering a total area of 491.3459 hectares. The application was denied in 2002. A year later, the motion of reconsideration was filed by 14 Colored Corporation.
Hacienda Teresa ARB Organization filed a petition for CARP coverage of the hacienda on March 30, 2010. In June, Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) requested the Negros provincial agrarian reform officer that the issuance of the NOC for Teresa landholding be held in abeyance until such time that a final decision has been made by the PARC relative to the SDO application of 14 Colored Corporation.
Hacienda Teresa ARB Organization is disappointed with the Department of Agrarian Reform upon the further delay of the notice of coverage of Hacienda Teresa.
“We would like to hear the explanation of Sec. delos Reyes on the delay of the issuance of the Notice of Coverage,” Espanola said.
“Isn’t Sec. Delos Reyes supposed to be the alter ego of the president in order to solve the SDO cancellation issue?” asked Jimmy Mamming, the TFM- Negros coordinator.
Section 31 of RA 6657 (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law) says “If within two (2) years from the approval of this Act, the land or stock transfer envisioned above is not made or realized or the plan for such stock distribution approved by the PARC within the same period, the agricultural land of the corporate owners or corporation shall be subject to the compulsory coverage of this Act.”
“We are not Hacienda Luisita! If the government could not implement our simple request for a notice of coverage, how can they implement other bigger requests from other haciendas in Negros like Hacienda Anita,” Española said.
DAR’s display of intentional delay
The Hacienda Teresa farmers have been camping at the DAR Central Office since October 16. Without proper sleeping cottage, adequate food stock and while they leave their families in Negros behind, the farmers struggled to manage as they waited for the decision at PARC.
On October 26, PARC executive committee met to act on the legal panel’s recommendation to deny the SDO application. But they rescheduled the meeting on November 14 because they were not able to generate a vote since the meeting did not convene the required number of members.
On November 14, PARC Techcom convened and voted, 18 to two, favorable for the SDO cancellation. However, DAR Undersecretary Narciso Nieto informed the farmers the resolution still needs the signature of the committee members who were not able to sign since they left in a hurry after the PARC meeting.
Aside from that, to finalize the decision, they also require the signature of President Benigno Aquino III who is only available during cabinet meetings. Nieto said that they could not say for certain as to when the decision would be signed since the President rarely attends cabinet meetings.
Farmer’s call for the completion of CARPER
The Hacienda Teresa ARB Organization said that the delay within PARC is a forceful rejection of the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER).
“We want the government to take our case seriously, “Española said. “ We are demanding for the completion of CARPER and not the termination of the program.” Lanie Factor, Task Force Mapalad