The Department of Agrarian Reform has quasi-judicial powers that will allow it to continue to prepare the list of potential agrarian reform beneficiaries for the Negros First Ranch in barangays Sta. Rosa and Canlandog, Murcia, pending an appeal filed by the provincial government, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano said yesterday.
Last month, Mariano denied the motion of the provincial government for the exclusion of its 147.2865-hectare property where its Negros First Ranch is located from land reform, for lack of merit, prompting the provincial government to opt to file an appeal before the Office of the President.
The DAR secretary said he is hoping the final decision on the Murcia property will allow for the distribution of the land to farmer beneficiaries.
Negros Occidental Provincial Legal Officer Jose Ma. Valencia earlier said the provincial government is prepared to oppose the DAR ruling all the way up to the Supreme Court.
Mariano said the DAR would turn over the case folders of the property in question to the Office of the President where the provincial government filed its appeal first.
Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Teresita Mabunay said a preliminary list of potential agrarian reform beneficiaries was being prepared for posting but their work has been hampered by a defective notice of coverage that needs to be corrected.
DAR NIR Regional Director Stephen Leonidas said a process has to be followed, the completion of the land acquisition for installation of ARBs could take from nine to ten months.
Meanwhile, Leonidas reiterated that he has negotiated for a solution where the farmers will be able to till land while waiting for a final ruling on the Negros First Ranch property.
He pointed out that Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon has agreed to allow the farmers to till 3.65 hectares of rice land near the river on the property in question.
The protesting farmers, however, want to be installed on the entire property, Leonidas said.
The provincial government has not closed its doors to allowing the use of the 3.65 hectare property, he added.
Mariano said more decisions will be coming out on Negros Occidental properties covered by land reform.
The Presidential Agrarian Reform Council is also set to convene in Malacañang Monday to, among others, rule on a bid for the revocation of Stock Distribution Options granted for large tracks of agricultural land in Negros, Mariano said.*CPG
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