A legal battle is brewing over the tense installation of 79 agrarian reform beneficiaries in Hacienda Victoria in Brgy. Camang-Camang, Isabela town, Negros Occidental, two weeks ago.
The Department of Agrarian Reform through Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer for Southern Negros Lucresia Taberna yesterday filed before the La Carlota City Regional Trial Court charges for obstruction of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program against lawyer Leon Moya, who is also contemplating to file charges against DAR and the police.
Taberna, during the installation on June 6, said they proceeded with the activity since the Writ of Preliminary Injunction filed by the former owners of the land that prevents the farmers from taking possession of the 86.6135 hectares of land owned by the Avina Corporation and being leased by the Rishi Corporation had already been lifted by the La Carlota City Regional Trial Court on May 14, 2013.
However, they received reports that Moya, the lawyer of Avina, who is the original owner of the land, was threatening and intimidating DAR employees, saying they will not allow the ARBs to take possession of the land and will use possible force to do that, she said.
When DAR arrived at the area at about 8 a.m. she said she noticed Moya with a large group of people and some of them were identified as farm workers of the lessee of the land, which is Rishi Corporation, while others were from nearby barangays, Taberna said.
Taberna said that despite the tension, DAR proceeded with the installation, placed signage saying that the property was already acquired by CARP, but Moya prevented him and a heated argument ensued between them, especially when Moya ordered the removal of the signage
The DAR official added that, through the instigation of Moya, a group of men attempted to throw stones at them and, if not for the police presence, violence could have erupted.
Moya said they stopped the installation because it was illegal and premature since they filed a motion for reconsideration for the lifting of the Writ of Preliminary Injunction and the court has scheduled the preliminary hearing on Thursday.
Aside from that, he said, there is still an existing lease contract between Avina and Rishi Corporation that was signed even before the creation of the CARP law.
Moya said that under the law, any contract involving agricultural land duly annotated before 1988 shall be respected and because DAR insisted on the installation, they are the ones who violated the law.
He said that Rishi is not against the installation but is asking DAR to honor the existing lease contract between it and Avina.*APN