By Felipe V. Celino
ROXAS CITY, Capiz – Several Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARB) of Barangay Culilang, President Roxas flocked to Capiz provincial capitol Friday last week asking help from Gov. Fredenil Castro regarding their situation.
According to them, they could not anymore take the abuses and harassment of Culilang Punong Barangay Ferdinand Bacanto, who is also administrator of the Nemesio Tan Landholdings (NTL).
NTL is the former owner of the properties before it were covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the given to the farmers.
Despite the Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) for the actual possession and cultivation of said properties, the camp of Bacanto alleged continued running after the farmers.
They claimed that Bacanto has placed blue guards, alleged goons, and private individuals during cultivation of the subject areas.
Worse, the administrator has ordered the closure of the barangay access road that prevented the harvester from entering the rice fields.
Last week, Judy and Lyden Labanza along with Leni Labanza Gersava and Florita Bance of Brgy. Culilang, President Roxas, Capiz failed to harvest their rice plantation after they were blocked by the alleged armed men of Bacanto.
It was learned that the harvester could not reach the rice field because a tractor blocked the road aside from being guarded by the armed men.
The farmers sought the intervention of Pres. Roxas Mayor Receliste Escolin. But, according to them, the mayor refused as the case is already in the court.
Bacanto is the Liga ng mga Barangay head of Pres. Roxas.
Meanwhile, Bacanto on Tuesday, Oct. 25, has allowed the farmers to harvest their rice plantation after they complied with certain conditions.
He vehemently denied harassing the farmers.
In a media interview, Bacanto said that the NTL is merely asking a letter request from the barangay where the Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) was attached including the contract. But the farmers failed to do so.
He said the CLOA distributed by the DAR were awarded to them in 2019 which were different and questionable because actual distribution and issuance of CLOA happened in 2020.
Aside from that, there were no basis for the award because it were already cancelled and did not reinstate before the DAR issued titles.
At present, Bacanto said they are waiting the decision of the case pending before the Court of Appeals.
Bacanto added that the road to the rice field is a private property owned by the Tan Landholding.