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No Dispossession of Land for Farmers in Settlement for Batangas Dispute

Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Undersecretary for Legal Affairs, Napoleon U. Galit, said that the resolution of the land dispute between farmers groups and Roxas and Co. Inc., covering Hacienda Palico, Banilad, and Caylaway, all in Nasugbu, Batangas, did not dispossess farmers of their land as claimed in certain media reports.

Undersecretary Galit said the Supreme Court ruling under G.R. 127876, dated December 17, 1999, ruled in favor of Roxas and Co. Inc., resulting in the invalidation of the certificates of land ownership award (CLOA) issued to them.

This led to the protracted litigation between the two parties, at the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Office of the President, before the DAR stepped in as the mediator last year, in an honest effort to get the two parties to come to a mutually-beneficial settlement.

Media reports that 50,000 farmers are affected by the order are false, Galit said. DAR records show that Atty. Nenita C. Mahinay, represented four legitimate farmers groups in the case, namely, DAMBA, KAMAHARI, ARBA, and DAMBA-NFSW, which had an approximate membership of 1,300 farmers only.

Undersecretary Galit stressed that all action undertaken by the DAR, were the result of the mutual consensus between both parties, which agreed to withdraw all cases pending before the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Office of the President, and yield to the exclusive jurisdiction and authority of the DAR in the matter.

As per the DAR order, the total land area of the three haciendas, to be divided equally among the farmers groups and landowner, amount to 1,322.23 hectares each. The members of the farmers groups will now undergo the DAR’s validation process and all of the necessary operational aspects and proceedings of identification, technical description approval, and issuance of individual certificates of land ownership award (CLOA) of the farmers shall follow.

As to the claim that the farmers groups were deceived by their counsel, Atty. Nenita C. Mahinay, who allegedly did not inform the farmers groups of the consolidated order and the period for the filing of an appeal or motion for reconsideration, Undersecretary Galit