GENUINE agrarian reform would remain an elusive dream – unless agencies in custody of government-owned and unclassified public lands that are suitable for agriculture or no longer serve its original purpose are turned over to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
In a statement, the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) strongly urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to “apply the principles of agrarian reform in public lands” and to “undertake the just distribution of all agricultural lands” in the disposition of government-held or owned lands.
FFF Chairman Leonardo Montemayor particularly hinted at “some government agencies” which to him seem to be flouting the clear provisions of Executive Order No. 75 issued by the previous administration.
When asked which agencies he is referring to, Montemayor candidly cited the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), National Defense (DND), and Justice (DOJ) which he claimed are planning to lease large areas under their jurisdiction in favor of big corporations.
Without blinking an eye, Montemayor cited the DENR’s recent announcement to offer – on a competitive bidding basis - a million hectares of denuded forests to private sector interests seeking to restore these lands as investments and for “carbon credits”.
The revelation comes weeks after President Marcos ordered Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III to ramp up the distribution of land to farmers in an apparent effort to secure sufficient food supply.
Previously, published articles (citing an unnamed DENR career official) tagged the almost 40,000-hectare Yulo King Ranch (YKR) spanning the towns of Coron and Busuanga in Palawan among those which the DENR refused to turn over to DAR for distribution to almost 1,000 farmers.
The unnamed DENR career official claimed that the agency has already rejected calls for them to surrender the title of farmlands which form part of the YKR.
The DENR is headed by Sec. Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, who happens to be court-designated executor of the Yulo estate (including YKR) that was left behind by her dad, a known crony of former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
Invoking Republic Act 6657 (otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law), farmers have long been engaging in a legal battle embarking on their rights to own the land they have been farming even before Yulos came to Palawan.
Accordingly, the portion of the YKR that the DENR official referred to, “has already been awarded in 2009 to New San Jose Builders Inc,” a company established and owned by no less than Jerry Acuzar, the same person President Marcos appointed as Secretary of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD).
#OpinYonMetro DENR #FarmlandDistribution #AgrarianReform #DAR #FederationOfFreeFarmers #BBM #PBBM #Marcos #OpinYon #WeTakeAStand