The Department of Agrarian Reform does not take sides but settles land disputes between the agrarian reform beneficiaries and the land owners based on official records, Edwin Sanchez, Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer of Murcia, said yesterday.
Sanchez was reacting to the statement of Ranie Lava, president of the National Federation of Sugar Workers giving them confusing statements and sounded like a representative of the landowner of Hacienda Guanzon in Brgy. Sta. Rosa Murcia.
He said DAR cannot install on the 54-hectare hacienda because their official records show that they signed a memorandum of agreement with the landowner, Teresita Guanzon, years back that they will cultivate the 23 hectares while there is a pending petition before the Supreme Court.
He added that the 19 ARBs already received their collective Certificate of Land Ownership Award, yet DAR still has to recheck on the status of the 31 hectares awarded to them.
Sanchez also said that the group wanted to disown the agreement and nullify the order of former DAR-6 director Ramon Benjamin, Jr. dated March 6, 2001 allowing the landowner to retain eight hectares of land from of the 23 hectares.
DAR cannot make any move without validating all documents and agreements made between them and the landowner before they can proceed to land survey and installation, he said.
Sanchez added that he is set to meet with the representatives of Hacienda Guanzon tomorrow and Provincial Agrarian Reform Office for North Negros, Enrique Paderes, to look at the legal effects of the agreement.
Meanwhile, DAR recently installed 66 agrarian reform beneficiaries from two haciendas in La Castellana town formerly owned by Rosita Montañez in Brgy. Lalag-san and the estate of Benjamin Gomez, Brgy. Sag-ang, Gloria Cañonero of DAR-Negros said yesterday.
DAR installed 11 ARBs of Hacienda Agueda, owned by Montañez covering 20.9603 and 11.4654 hectares, while 13 of them were under a memorandum of agreement with the former landowner, Cañonero said.
They also installed 42 ARBs of Hacienda Tipolo, an estate of Gomez, covering 22.0709 and 25.3400 hectares, she also said.
Cañonero said that before the installation, DAR conducted the survey segregating the retention areas and the unacquired portions of the total land area.
The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms provides that the landowner must retain five hectares of his land before it is covered, she also said.
They were assisted by Police Insp. Allan Reloj of La Castellana police station and 1st Lt. Reynaldo Cañete of the 11th Infantry Battalion based in Canlaon, she added.* LTG