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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, March 10, 2018
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Police chief clarifies role
in dismantling of houses


The police chief of Siaton, Negros Oriental, said they will only play a support role to the sheriff in the dismantling of “illegal structures” on a disputed land covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in Barangay Napacao.

However Siaton police chief, Insp. Rafael Lorenz Serion, said Thursday that they have not yet received a copy of the purported order from a municipal court judge who directed the dismantling of about 200 huts/houses made of light materials at the Gaspar Vicente property in Napacao.

Earlier this week, Rustico Ramos, caretaker of the Vicentes, who resides in the farmhouse on the Napacao property, said that they have already received a court decision from the Siaton municipal court to that effect. However, he did not mention the name of the judge.

Ramos said, the court has given the owners of the "illegal" structures 15 days upon receipt of the order, to dismantle them.

These houses are owned/occupied by farmers who are not regular workers of the Vicentes or are recipients of the Department of Agrarian Reform’s Certificate of Land Ownership Award, Ramos said.

These are people who are claiming to be petitioners for inclusion as beneficiaries of the land under the CARP, butRamos said they are not.

The structures were built as early as two years ago, with the CLOA holders and the so-called petitioners still locked in battle over ownership and rights of the sugarcane-planted property.

Last Feb. 21, four farmers, including three of them female, were killed in a bloody attack allegedly perpetrated by the security guards of the landowners at the CARP-covered property. Another farmer was wounded in the same shooting incident.

Serion said that in the event of a demolition, unless the owners of the houses voluntarily take down the structures, the police will only provide security to the sheriff who shall implement the court order.

The role of the police is to ensure the safety of everyone and to maintain peace and order, Serion added.

Meanwhile, some of those who have houses that are “illegally” erected on the disputed land in Napacao, said they have not yet received a copy of the court order. They declined to comment on the purported order.

They were surprised to hear that the court had supposedly issued the order when there is still a pending case, or cases, regarding their petition for inclusion, and that a previous ejectment case filed by the landowners had been dismissed by the court, saying it was within the jurisdiction of the DAR instead.*PNA


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