Poor man, rich men in land issue
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - January 14, 2020 - 12:00am

For many years, Rosauro S. Tapal Sr. worked for a banana plantation in Barangay Tibal-og, Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte. Not unlike his co-workers, he lived a hand-to-mouth existence, and certainly was far from earning enough to fulfill his dream of having a son and daughter finish their schooling and becoming an OFW and domestic help in faraway Riyadh. Day in and day out, he labored under the sun or rain, whatever the weather was, his skin withering from the sun’s pierce bite, his feet blotched with corn and calluses from working barefoot in the field. Life was hard for Rosauro.

Then something good (for Rosauro and his co-workers) happened. The plantation, which exported its bananas abroad, was subjected to land reform under the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) based on the implementation of Republic Act No. 6657, or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, as amended by Republic Act No. 9700. Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) were distributed to individual farmers-landowners, now called Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs). The farmers were now free to till their own land and see their dream of a better future coming true. Rosauro felt elated; he now had his own titled property. But, as it happened in many parts of the country, the ARBs, deciding not to till their properties by themselves, entered into a lease agreement with MEPI, putting the CARP-covered landholdings in St. Tomas under its control.

Tapal was awarded a 10,202 square meter portion of the said property, which was later segregated and identified in the Transfer Certificate of Title No. C-23498 of the Register of Deeds for the Province of Davao del Norte issued on the basis of CLOA No. 00844959 in his name.

Tapal claims the title to his land was segregated from all the others and he was not part of the lease agreement. However, his property, as he would later report in a subsequent complaint before the Provincial Prosecutor of Davao del Norte, was taken over by MEPI which exports cavendish bananas abroad, and, according to Tapal, produced wealth while leaving him “poor and penniless.”

Tapal became chairman of the Sto. Tomas Individual Farming Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (SIFARBCO) Veterans in Tibal-og, Sto. Tomas. The 173 ARBs later moved for the revocation of the lease agreement between SIFARBCO and MEPI. On Sept. 1, 2016, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) chaired by the President, approved the revocation of the lease contract between the ARBs and MEPI per PARC Resolution No. 2016-35-05. MEPI filed a motion for reconsideration, but this motion, according to Tapal’s lawyer, “has neither been upheld nor denied. The council has failed to convene until now, despite petitions from the ARBs for it to do so.”

On Nov. 28, 2018, the Lopoz Adin Yap & Galvez Law Firm wrote George W. Drysdale Jr., owner of Marsman Estate Plantation Inc. and other officers demanding payment of Tapal’s shares of net income derived from the CLOA-covered property for 12 consecutive years, in the amount of P6,400,000, based on the monthly net income per hectare of P400,000. Nothing came out of the demand letter.

A year later, on Nov. 6, 2019, Tapal filed an affidavit complaint against MEPI in the Prosecutor’s Office of Davao City claiming violation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law for allegedly taking illegal possession of the property of the land reform beneficiary and exploiting it for the past 18 years without a valid agreement and without paying a single centavo for it.

On Nov. 7, 2019, Europa Dacanay Cubelo Europa & Flores law office of Davao City, forwarded to Provincial Prosecutor of Davao del Norte Norman Solis, Rosauro S. Tapal Sr., affidavit, complaint against Drysdale and the board of directors of Marsman Estate Plantation Inc., Marsman Drysdale AgriBusiness Holdings Inc., Marsman Drysdale Corp. and Marsman-Drysdale Foundation Inc. for criminal violation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.

Tapal’s affidavit says, “In my simple understanding of what the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law is all about, it is supposed to be intended to promote and uplift the welfare of landless Filipino farmers and farm workers like myself.”

“What has happened to me, as well as other ARBs, however, is exactly the opposite because, as explained above, I have been unlawfully deprived of the benefits of the law and I have been left in abject poverty.”

As of this date, Tapal has not received MEPI’s response to his affidavit complaint. Tapal says, maybe his case should be brought to the attention of President Duterte.

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Centro Escolar University (CEU) Alumni Foundation Inc. (CEU AFI)  is presenting Excelencia Awards during the 2019-2020 grand alumni reunion to be held at the Fiesta Pavilion, Manila Hotel, this coming Saturday.

Dr. Paz I. Lucido, president of the foundation, said the awards will be given to outstanding CEU alumni achievers here and abroad.

Proceeds of the grand reunion will go to the foundation’s corporate responsibility program which includes scholarships for high school graduates for a course in the University, community outreach, and continuing professional education for alumni.

During the grand alumni reunion, CEU is also honoring the university’s Jubilarians – those who will celebrate the anniversary of their graduation by the time of the grand reunion in 2020.

CEU AFI is also presenting Jubilarian Awards to exemplary achievers among the jubilarians. Dr. Rosita Navarro, former CEU president and now chairperson of the awards committee, said there are three categories of the Jubilarian Awards: Stellar Jubilarian Award (given to a Jubilarian who has shown stellar qualities); the Distinguished Jubilarian Award honors a Jubilarian who has exemplary achievements, particularly in the national and global arena, recognized by a reputable awards body, and the Milestone Jubilarian Award, which honors a Jubilarian who has longtime exemplary achievements.  

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Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com


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