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DAR installs 159 MARBAI farmers on Lapanday land

19 May 2017

But only 108 hectares have been made available by Lapanday Foods Corporation as they are still contesting the 37 remaining hectares.

LFC confirmed to BusinessWorld via text message that the MARBAI take-over was completed yesterday morning, but asserted in a statement that the DAR-led move is "illegal" because the land actually belongs to the Hijo Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative-1 (HEARBCO-1).

The land dispute turned violent December past year when plantation guards opened fire at barricading members of MARBAI in two incidents, wounding nine of them.

Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano already attempted to install the farmers in the farms twice-on April 18 and 21-but were prevented by Lapanday security guards from entering the plantation.

"Syempre naging mapayapa at matagumpay at makikita na matiwasay at masasabi natin naging lubos ang pagsasakatuparan dun sa pagtugon sa naunang hinaing na sila ay mainstall".

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This came after President Rodrigo Duterte's order on May 9 to allow the farmer-beneficiaries installation.

Mariano encouraged the farmers to continue defending their rights through strong collaboration and collective determination among themselves.

The DAR also ordered the provincial police to assist with the installation. It was then rescheduled to April 2 but it was not executed when nobody would receive the order.

In December 2016, farmers forcibly occupied the 145-hectare banana plantation after the firm refused to give the land.

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan congratulated the MARBAI farmers who "tore down the barriers that stood in the way of their rightful claim to their land" and thanked Mariano "for standing with the farmers up to this day, ensuring that the installation order is enforced". (LFC), a Lorenzo-owned company, members of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc.

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In 2010, MARBAI members broke away from HEARBCO-1 and claimed 145 hectares of the property owned by the cooperative. Hearbco-1 now has a contract with the LFC that allows it to manage portions of the plantation.

The company had stressed that Davao City Regional Trial Court Branch 14 has upheld its compromise agreement with HEARBCO-1.

According to a press statement on Wednesday, Agrarian Secretary Rafael Mariano said that he would be with the agrarian-reform beneficiaries during the installation. "Only the Supreme Court may issue a temporary restraining order to stop the implementation of DAR's decision".

HEARBCO-1 and LFC have sent separate letters to Mr. Duterte requesting for his intervention on the matter and call on the parties to discuss a settlement.

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