TARLAC CITY, Tarlac: Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano has revealed that majority of agrarian reform beneficiaries have either sold, mortgaged or leased the lots awarded to them despite a 10-year ban on such move under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
The “[a]warded lands were not in their possession,” Mariano said, noting that among those who bought or rented their lots mentioned in the validation report were “influential personalities and local politicians.”
The practice was discovered after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) validated a list of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in Hacienda Luisita for three weeks in March.
Undersecretary for Field Operations Marcos Risonar Jr. headed the team that conducted the process.
The validation covered 10 villages in three municipalities within the Hacienda Luisita sugar estate in this province where a total of 4,099.92 hectares of land was awarded to 6,212 ARBs.
It was found that 2,800 ARBs leased or mortgaged their lands, 600 sold them to third-party buyers and 200 took part in joint venture agreements.
Mariano made the revelation after he distributed certificates of land ownership award (CLOA) to 302 farmers here, a day after militants occupied a piece of land here under the control of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) inside the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita.
After the CLOA distribution, he presided over distribution of 10 tractors to farmers in the province that was held at Barangay Balete where the RCBC property is located.
The DAR secretary said the CLOA distribution is part of the government’s defense of rights of farmers under Republic Act 3844 enacted during the time of former President Diosdado Macapagal.
During the distribution at the Diwa ng Tarlak convention hall in Barangay San Vicente, the Agrarian Reform secretary reminded the beneficiaries of their obligations under the agrarian reform law, which abolished tenancy and established a leasehold system in which farmers paid fixed rents to landlords, rather than getting a percentage of the harvest.
In an agricultural leasehold, the farmer cultivates the land belonging to or possessed by another with the latter’s consent for a price–money or share in the produce or both.
The Land Bank of the Philippines was established to help implement the land reform program, particularly in the purchase of agricultural estates for division and resale to small landholders and the purchase of land by the agricultural lessee.
“You have obligations to perform as beneficiaries. You have to stick to them,” Mariano told the farmers.
According to him, the law also mandates the government to provide support like training, equipment and livelihood opportunities to farmers.