• DAR lashed for colluding with big landlords

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    MILITANT peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Monday assailed the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for collusion with big landlords including the family of President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas on development plans in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province and Hacienda Araneta in Bulacan province.

    “It is now clear that the DAR’s shrinking of lands covered in Hacienda Luisita and the exemption from coverage of Hacienda Araneta were all in accordance with the land use and development scheme,” Antonio Flores, the group’s secretary general, said.

    KMP was referring to Luisita Realty and Araneta Properties’ development plan in Hacienda Luisita and Tungkong Mangga respectively, allegedly designed by Noni Mendoza and Associates (NMA).

    “The first phase development of Hacienda Luisita defined and integrated the fabric of a new town, carefully balancing relationships of jobs to housing and providing both with recreational and shopping amenities,” NMA said in its website.

    It said that “since 1993 NMA has provided Land Planning, Site Planning and Landscape Design services for Hacienda Luisita.”

    It added that “Luisita Industrial Park III is an industrial city complete with residential, recreational, industrial, commercial and office components. This phase III 260 hectares site encompasses the existing Luisita Industrial Park, Phases I and II. Consolidating Phase III with the existing industrial parks provides an added opportunity to expand Hacienda Luisita’s employment base.”

    “Luisita Industrial Park III includes various residential types of communities with villages and neighborhood centers. A 40-meter wide power line easement connects to a village center on the northerly property line. This easement contributes a generous linear expanse of open space for recreational activities and other amenities such as a lake and streams, pedestrian trails, bicycle and jogging paths, and picnic areas,” the master plan states.

    On the other hand, the NMA website named the “land owner” as Araneta Properties Inc. and Sta. Lucia Realty and Development Inc. as “client.”

    Concurrent with developing the master plan for Colinas Verdes, Santa Lucia Realty requested NMA to develop feasibility master plans for Tungkong Mangga Commercial Center in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.

    The site is adjacent to Colinas Verdes’ 236 hectares site and also a part of the contiguous 1500 hectares of Araneta Properties. Situated on the corner of Bocaue Road and Quirino Highway on the northerly quadrant, Tungkong Mangga has the potential for accelerated growth with its immediacy to the existing church diagonally nearby.

    “These development plans concretely shows that the DAR is in connivance with the Cojuangcos and the Araneta-Roxas in denying farmers their rights to own the lands,” Flores said.

    Neil A. Alcober

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