DAR issues cease and desist order vs Lapanday Foods

Patty Pasion
The order comes after a series of reported assaults against farmer-beneficiaries in a 145-hectare banana plantation

FARMER PROTECTION. Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano issues a cease and desist order against Lapanday Foods Corporation after a series of reported assaults against DAR farmer-beneficiaries. Photo from DAR

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael Mariano issued a cease and desist order against Davao del Norte-based Lapanday Foods Corporation (LFC), after the company forcibly evicted agrarian reform beneficiaries from a 145-hectare banana plantation.

In an order signed Wednesday, December 14, Mariano also instructed DAR Regional Director John Maruhom and Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Jocelyn Seno to provide police or military assistance to farmer-beneficiaries of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Incorporated (MARBAI).

Mariano directed the local DAR officials to work with the police to file cases against LFC and its security guards who forcibly evicted the farmer-beneficiaries.

The order was a response to MARBAI president Mely Yu’s letter dated December 13, requesting DAR to intervene since 7 farmers were injured on December 12 after the security guards allegedly fired at the MARBAI campsite.

Two days after, 3 people were reportedly wounded and held hostage by goons allegedly working for the company.

All 159 agrarian reform beneficiaries who are part of MARBAI own a 0.79-hectare portion of the plantation. They received their Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) back in 1996 under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (PARAD) Jose Nilo Tillano on December 15 last year ruled in favor of the MARBAI farmers, but the conflict persisted.

LFC, which exports bananas and pineapples, is partly owned by former agriculture secretary Cito Lorenzo, who was linked to the P728-million fertilizer fund scam. The Sandiganbayan recently junked the case stemming from the scam, saying there was no evidence proving the accused committed plunder. – Rappler.com