Twenty-five Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries are appealing for help from the previous owner, the Arroyo family, led by former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, and concerned government agencies in their effort to reclaim disputed lands in Hacienda Bacan, Barangay Guintubhan in Isabela town.
“We feel oppressed by the slain Fifth District Board Member Renato Malabor's wife Araceli,” an ARB who asked not to be identified, claimed.
He added that Mrs. Malabor will not return their lands unless they pay double for their debt of P150,000 to the late board member in double, the ARB added.
The ARBs insist on paying only P150,000 instead to claim their lands back.
A total of 157 hectares of land holdings previously owned by the Arroyo family was distributed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program to 68 beneficiaries. The 25 ARBs want to reacquire about 50 hectares of disputed lands from Araceli Malabor.
In 2011, the 25 beneficiaries sad they signed a contract allowing then mayor Malabor to take hold of the lands through “prenda-arendo” for three years while they were waiting for their certificates of land ownership award, the ARB said.
He said “We signed the contract before because the late Board Member provided us with rice, food and a stipend of P5,000 in every two weeks,” adding that they signed the contract out of a debt of gratitude.
They admitted that the contract had no legal grounds; and was just a statement that they are indebted to the then mayor.
Araceli Malabor, however asked “How can they reclaim their lands if they keep on borrowing money?”
Mrs. Malabor said she is willing to release the land holdings as soon as the beneficiaries pay their debts.
The ARBs also claimed seeing armed men roaming around the property. “We reported the sound of a gunshot to the roving police last Saturday,” they added.
Mrs. Malabor denied the allegations of men carrying weapons in their employ, adding that they, instead, are the ones who have been oppressed.
The beneficiaries claim that Mrs. Malabor did not participate in their previous transactions with Mayor Renato Malabor.
Sugarcane is currently grown on the disputed lands.
The ARB said that last year, they told the Malabors that they are claiming the lands again, but they still planted the sugarcane.
Recently, the ARBs requested the Binalbagan Sugar Company (BISCOM) to send a loading truck to Hacienda Bacan but Renato Malabor Jr stopped the milling dispatcher from sending the truck to the supposed harvesting of sugarcane.
The ARBs are seeking help from the Arroyo family and concerned government agencies, especially the Agrarian Reform department, to mediate in the case.
The ARB said they promised the Arroyos to take care of the lands they gave them under CARP, and that if they obtain the lands again, they promise never to let this happen again,” the ARB said.*KBC
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