Farmers of the Hugo estate in Brgy. Manhoy in Dao, Capiz hold the emancipation patents issued to them by the Department of Agrarian Reform on September 26, 2014 or 10 years since the EPs were generated during the Arroyo administration

Capiz News – DAR hit for awarding land titles to Capiz farmers 10 years late

CAPIZ NEWS – ‘Task Force Mapalad’ Press Release 3rd October 2014: National peasant federation Task Force Mapalad (TFM) is denouncing the injustice done by the Department of Agrarian Reform to 21 farmers, who as early as 2004 have turned out to be already the owners of a 40-hectare rice land in Brgy. Manhoy, Dao, Capiz but whose titles to the land they have been tilling since the 1980s were only released late last month by the DAR.

According to TFM community organizer Leonard Tayros, the awarding of the land titles called emancipation patents (EP) to the farmers — all agrarian reform beneficiaries under Presidential Decree No. 27 and who were among those ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda last year — was never done by the DAR until September 26, 2014 or 10 years after the department generated the EPs.

“We don’t know if the injustice done to the farmers was because of the DAR’s incompetence or due to a collusion by the agency’s field officers with the haciendero so that the latter could keep his control over the landholding and still enjoy the fruits of the farmers’ labor that supposedly no longer belongs to him,” said Tyros.

“What made it worse was that the farmers were also affected by Yolanda and thus were twice victimized, first by a natural disaster, and second by a government-made disaster,” added Tayros.

Tayros said the awarding of the EPs to the 21 farmers late last month by the DAR’s municipal agrarian reform officer Nicher Paro would not have happened if the TFM did not talk to the farmers, conduct research on the landholding, and prompt the DAR to release and issue the titles.

Carlito Estiaga, son of 87-year-old Asencion Estiaga, one of the 21 farmers who were recently issued with the titles, said his father did not know that he was already among the owners of the landholding because the DAR did not inform him of his rights under the agrarian reform law.

“Nagulat ang Tatay ko nang bigla na lang s’yang nagkatitulo sa lupa. Hindi n’ya alam ang karapatan n’ya kasi wala namang nagsasabi na taga DAR sa kanya tungkol doon at tungkol sa land reform,” said the 58-year-old Carlito.

Based on copies of the EPs, the land titles were awarded by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the farmers on November 22, 2004.

It is stated in the EPs signed by then DAR Secretary Rene Villa that the farmers have the right “to have and to hold” the land “in absolute ownership” as they have “fully complied with the requirements” under P.D. 27.

PD 27 is the law enacted by President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972 placing all rice and corn lands under the government’s agrarian reform program.

The EPs were entered in the Registry of Deeds on November 24, 2004 at 8:16 a.m.

Based on TFM’s research, the landholding is formerly owned by the Hugo family led by Nestor Hugo. Since the 1980s, the farmers were giving the Hugos 30 percent of their rice harvest.

“That means the farmers have been giving a share of their produce to the Hugos for the last three decades. This should have already stopped in 2004 when the DAR generated the farmers’ EPs. However, the EPs were not issued by the DAR to the farmers and thus they kept on giving a portion of their harvest to the Hugos even though they were already the owners of the land they till,” explained Tayros.

Asked by TFM why the distribution of the EPs to the farmers were delayed for a decade, the DAR’s municipal agrarian reform officer Paro said the EPs were not yet distributed to the farmers because they had not yet fully paid the amortization for the landholding through the Land Bank of the Philippines.

But Tayros and other TFM leaders including the peasant federation’s deputy coordinator Lanie Factor told Paro that the law does not require the farmers to first complete their amortization or payment for the land before the EPs are issued to them.

In fact, according to the TFM, the farmers may no longer need to amortize for the farm as the share of their produce given to the Hugos for three decades could be already more than enough to pay for the land.

On July 17, 1987, then President Corazon Aquino issued Executive Order No. 228 declaring full land ownership to qualified farmer-beneficiaries covered by Marcos’ P.D. 27.

A portion of E.O. 228 states that, “lease rentals paid to the landowner by the farmer beneficiary after October 21, 1972, shall be considered as advance payment for the land.”

“The farmers had been giving a share of their produce to the Hugos for 30 years even after the DAR’s generation of their EPs in 2004. If the DAR would compute the cash value of the rice harvest that the farmers gave to the Hugos, it is possible that it is more than the advance payment and would already cover for the cost of the landholding, which based on our research is P16,000 per hectare,” said Tayros.

“We are thus urging the DAR to clean up the mess it created and ensure the welfare of the Capiz farmers whose suffering was made worse by the DAR’s incompetence,” Tayros said.

“We wonder how many more cases are similar to what had happened to the Capiz farmers because of the DAR’s skewed implementation of the agrarian reform program under Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes. The DAR cannot blame peasants for being too critical of Secretary Delos Reyes’ performance. He does not only lack political will, but also genuine concern for farmers thus the program is failing under his watch,” he concluded.

‘Task Force Mapalad’ Press Release 3rd October 2014.