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Farmers denounce charges filed vs DAR officials

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By Antonio L. Colina IV

Davao City — Farmers of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (MARBAI) in Barangay Madaum, Tagum City threw their support behind Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano and Undersecretary Luis Pangulayan with regard the criminal and adminsitrative complaints filed by Lorenzo-owned Lapanday Foods Corp. (LFC).

In an interview Tuesday, MARBAI president Mely Yu told The Manila Bulletin that it was not right to file charges against the two officials of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) who were just doing their job to install their member-farmers as owners of the 145-hectare disputed property last May 17.

She said LFC’s agricultural venture agreement (AVA) with Hijo Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative-1 (HEARBCO-1) was an “onerous contract,” and insisted the MARBAI members were the real owners of the banana plantation.

In a release posted on its Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) website, Mariano said the actions taken by the LFC “illustrate how landlord-oligarchs use courts to thwart the implementation of genuine agrarian reform” and harass DAR officials implementing the agrarian reform law.

The LFC filed complaints before the Ombudsman last week against Mariano and Pangulayan for violation of Sectin 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices Act and asked the Ombudsman for their preventive suspension.

LFC’s lawyer Noel Oliver Punzalansaid that the “respondents clearly used their office and abused their authority to deliberately favor the No Group/Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (MARBAI) members.”

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