ECJ Negros Farms Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative strongly takes exception to the call of Task Force Mapalad to “finalize the termination of the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA)” covering lands formerly owned by the late Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. in Negros Occidental, its chairman Edgar De la Rama, said yesterday.
In a press statement, De la Rama, said the petition for revocation of the JVA has already been dismissed by the Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator Negros Occidental 2, Julius Leonid Maestral, in an order dated July 29, 2019.
The dismissal has become final and executory per certificate of finality issued by the Clerk of the Adjudicator on Oct. 24, 2019, he said.
The JVA has not been a “failure” as claimed by Task Force Mapalad, he said.
“While the joint venture initially incurred losses in the amount of P2.9B from 2005-2016, which were all absorbed by the JV Investors, the Cooperative gained substantial income of P41M during the same period,” he added.
More importantly, with the change in the main agricultural crop from fruit trees to sugar cane, a financial turnaround was achieved in the JV operations beginning 2016, which continues up to the present, redounding to increased benefits to the ARBs, De la Rama added.
He also said that from the time the titles of ECJ and companies identified with him were cancelled and certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) were issued in the name of the Cooperative, representing the ARBs, as a result of the voluntary transfer, the ARBs, through the Cooperative, have acquired full control of the subject landholdings.
The JVA was entered into between the Cooperative and the JV Investors in 2004 to ease the burden of paying for the land. Under the JVA it was set merely at P1 per hectare, and ensured the continuity of farm operations, and productivity of distributed lands under CARP, De La Rama added.
The JVA provided for the organization of Southern Negros Joint Venture Corporation (SNJVC) to manage the landholdings. The Cooperative is also a co-owner of SNJVC, with 30 percent equity equivalent to the value P305 million of the usufructuary rights it granted to SNJVC, while the ARBs remain as collective owners of the lands, he said.
As owner and JV partner, the Cooperative actively and directly participates in operating these lands, while the JV Investors have made available managerial, technical, and financial support, De la Rama said.
It is obvious, therefore, that the call of Task Force Mapalad has absolutely no factual or legal basis, he added.
Task Force Mapalad in a press release earlier claimed aging and ailing farmers are lamenting over the failure of Cojuangco to return to them the control of vast agricultural landholdings in Negros Occidental before he died.
Cojuangco’s landholdings, consisting of 12 haciendas covering 4,654 hectares spread in the cities of Bago and La Carlota and the towns of La Castellana, Isabela, Hinigaran, Murcia, San Enrique, Himamaylan, and Pontevedra, were awarded by the Department of Agrarian Reform to 1,759 farmworkers over two decades ago through CLOAs, it added.*
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