Bayanihan or the spirit of communal unity was seen yesterday in the 68 agrarian reform beneficiaries of Hacienda Bacan in Isabela, Negros Occidental, as they successfully removed security guard outposts and a metal gate that were placed on their property by the former landowner.
The clearing was done despite the resistance from security guards at Hacienda Bacan yesterday.
The Rivulet Agro Industrial Corp., former landowner of Hacienda Bacan, hired security guards and deployed them to the hacienda a month after the ARBs were installed last year and they put up four nipa huts that served as their outposts, Elsa Zamora, Isabela municipal agrarian reform officer, said yesterday.
Zamora said the ARBs requested assistance from the Department of Agrarian Reform to clear the area after Rivulet officials refused to reply to the letters of the farmers asking them to take out their outposts and the gate since they are no longer owners of the land.
Jose Celes, 53, one of the farmer leaders, said it is ironic that they were being curtailed by the security guards in their own land. They are inspected and cannot even bring in their farm implements into the area, he said.
Zamora said the former landowner has no right to restrict farmers to their land because it had been awarded to them last year and a five-hectare retention area was given to the corporation.
Bacan covers 157.2882 hectares, 148.2219 of which were awarded to the ARBs under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, she said.
Of the 68 beneficiaries, 43 are members of the Negros Occidental Federation of Farmers Association, and 25 of Task Force Mapalad, she added.
Zamora stressed that the corporation has no right to ask for any order from DAR or from the ARBs because they are not owners of the land. The ARBs now own the 148.2219 hectares, she added.
The farmers also called on the local police of Isabela for assistance when Alan Sardo, one of the detailed security guards pushed Alexander Celes, 38, with his gun while at the outpost along with other ARBs.
Nestor Inapan, 58, chairman of NOFFA, said that he is happy that they were able to transfer the outposts to the retained area of the landowners.
Inapan, who has been working in the hacienda for 40 years, said he is also thankful to DAR for their assistance as that they can now fully operate and make their lands more productive.
Manuel Velasco, south provincial agrarian reform officer I; Ignacio Cabayao Jr., head of the Special Concerns Team; and Gloria Cañonero, senior agrarian reform program technologist, were also present in yesterday’s activity.*LTG