Lease, sale of Luisita lots illegal — DAR chief
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - April 27, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -  The sale and lease of lots awarded to Hacienda Luisita farm workers is illegal, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano said yesterday.

Mariano issued the statement after a fact-finding inquiry conducted by his office showed that 83 percent or around 4,000 of 5,212 agrarian reform beneficiaries at the sugar estate are not cultivating the land awarded to them.

At least 2,841 farm workers leased their land, more than 600 sold their lots to third-party buyers and 200 engaged in joint-venture agreements.

 “The study revealed that local politicians, through an illicit leaseback system known as aryendo duped thousands of cash-strapped agrarian reform beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita into letting go of the farm lots awarded to them,” Mariano said.

He said the certificates of land ownership awards prohibit the lease and sale of awarded land within 10 years.

“The practice of aryendo is illegal and a willful and deliberate obstruction in the delivery of the agrarian reform program,” Mariano said. “We urge those who were forced to lease or sell their lots to hold their ground. (The Department of Agrarian Reform) will help them fight the illegal practice of aryendo.”

Mariano slammed the buyers of the farm lots, said to be wealthy local politicians and businessmen, for “preying on the weaknesses of agrarian reform beneficiaries.” 

He cited the admission made by beneficiaries in Barangay Pando in Tarlac City that they are leasing their lots for P7,000 a year to a “prominent political clan in Tarlac.”

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