Illegal occupants of Hacienda Bongco in Escalante to face ejection

BACOLOD CITY, June 9 (PNA) — An agrarian reform technician of Escalante City in Negros Occidental has recommended for the filing of ejection case and obstruction of justice against the illegal occupants of Hacienda Bongco.

ARP Tech Teresita Doromal said the presence of illegal occupants in the 232.32 hectares landholding hinders the implementation of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“…violations had been made in the course of their resistance, let then the law prevail and the proper tribunal decide on the outcome of said violation,” she wrote in a report.

“Let cases be filed to those who violated the law and let the government gain possession of the property since it is now the rightful owner thereof…,” her report added.

The five-page case brief prepared by Doromal has been noted by Escalante City Agrarian Reform Officer Isaias Solido.

Hacienda Bongco, owned by Gerardo and Francisco Bongco, was covered by CARP on June 3, 2005.

Of the total land area, 183.94 hectares (Lot 3869 with 131.69 hectares and Lot 2507-C with 52.24 hectares) was placed under compulsory acquisition but later shifted to voluntary offer to sell.

A total of 99(not 88 as previously reported) agrarian reform-beneficiaries belonging to Don Esteban Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (DEARBA), Hacienda Bongco Farmer’s Association (HABFA) and Panaghiusa sa mga Obreros sa Barangay Jonob-Jonob (POBJ) have been given the right to own the property during the awarding of Certificate of Landownership Awards last June 7.

However, there are hundred more non-beneficiaries claiming ownership of the disputed land and most of them were affiliated to POBJ.

In fact, those who failed to get the CLOAs illegally occupied the land while the tedious process of land acquisition was on going.

Doromal said that an ejection case had been filed against them by the lessee of the property but it was dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction on the part of the provincial agrarian reform adjudicator.

The landowner nor the lessee, however, failed to file the same case with the regular courts nor asserted their right to posses the property and eject the illegal occupants.

Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Enrique Paderes of DAR-North Negros Occidental said they have given the non-beneficiaries with claim on the land the time to file a petition for inclusion but to no avail.

When reached for reactions, POBJ Representative Evelyn Saguirre said their members who failed to get the CLOAs choose not file a petition for inclusion upon advice of their legal counsel.

“Some of us did not re-file the petition for inclusion since we already filed it before CARP was extended and amended,” Saquirre said.

Despite the resistance of the illegal occupants, however, Paderes said they will proceed with the installation of CLOA-holders and delineation of land as soon as possible.

He is also optimistic that the conflict between the farmer-beneficiaries and those that are not will be resolved knowing that they were mostly related by blood.

Meanwhile, to ensure that the land conflict will not develop into violence, Escalante City Police Chief Jefferson Descallar said he has assigned a section of policemen to monitor the activities of the farm workers.

Descallar said he will also seek the assistance of Lt. Col Efren Morados and Lt. Col Patrick Cinco, commanding officers of 62nd Infantry Battalion and 3rd Civil Military Operations (CMO) Battalion respectively, to effectively maintain peace in the area. (PNA)


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