DAR accused of ‘conniving’ with Henry Sy’s firm to evict Hacienda Looc farmers

“DAR officials are fully aware that Hacienda Looc is a contested land and that the fraudulent cancellation of their certificates is not equivalent to a conversion order,” KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said.

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

Sidebar: Hacienda Looc farmers decry harassment, tag Henry Sy as a ‘landgrabber’

MANILA – Fighting for their land and livelihood, farmers from Hacienda Looc camped outside the national office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Sept. 19.

Farmers belonging to Ugnayan ng mga Mamamayan Laban sa Pangwawasak ng Kalupaan ng Hacienda Looc (Umalpas-Ka) reiterated their demand to stop the conversion of 8,650 hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas.

SM Land, owned by business tycoon Henry Sy, is developing 5,800 hectares of Hacienda Looc into the Hamilo Coast project that includes the Pico De Loro Beach and Country Club and the Pico De Loro Residential Condominiums. It aims to develop 13 natural coves, 25 kilometers of pristine beachfront; forests, mountains, limestone cliffs, and rock formations. Since 2004, SM Land has been building structures along the coastal areas, converting farmlands and displacing farmers and fishermen of Hacienda Looc.


Farmers from Hacienda Looc set up a camp in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / bulatlat.com)

Umalpas-Ka and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) accused DAR officials and SM Land of collusion to evict farmer-beneficiaries from the hacienda.

“The DAR and SM Land are obviously in collusion with each other to evict farmers and push through with the anti-people Hamilo Coast project in Hacienda Looc,” Armando Lemita, Umalpas-Ka spokesman, said. “The DAR allowed SM Land to grab our lands,” Lemita said.

Lemita said that during their dialogue with DAR, Sept. 13, officials failed to present any conversion order. “SM Land has arbitrarily converted more than 200-hectares of the contested land for the Hamilo Coast land development project,” Lemita said.

In 1990, the DAR granted a collective certificate of land ownership award (CLOA) and emancipation patents (EPs) to farmers in Hacienda Looc under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). After several years, the DAR cancelled the certificates after the government’s Assets Privatization Trust (APT) sold the whole hacienda to Manila Southcoast Development Corp. (MSDC), a member of the SM Group of Companies.

“DAR officials are fully aware that Hacienda Looc is a contested land and that the fraudulent cancellation of their certificates is not equivalent to a conversion order,” KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said.

Based on the minutes from DAR obtained by Bulatlat.com, Undersecretary Anthony Parungao “advised” the farmers to file an intervention in the petition for revocation of conversion order of 1,200 hectares of land pending with the Supreme Court.

Asked whether a conversion order has been issued for the other portions of land in Hacienda Looc, DAR officials said they will have to check with the Center for Land Use Policy, Planning and Implementation (CLUPPI) if such an order has been issued.

Farmers also said SM Land’s construction of condominium buildings along the foreshore land of Hacienda Looc is “illegal,” because no environmental compliance certificate has been issued.

The groups held a picket in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Sept. 20 asking the agency to investigate SM Land’s continuing construction of a high-rise condominium at the foreshore land of Hacienda Looc.

“The DENR knew that construction along foreshore land is prohibited, illegal, and criminal. We hold DENR officials accountable for allowing itself to be used by SM Land in this environmental havoc in Hacienda Looc,” Ramos said.

Ramos said the continuing land-use conversion and eviction of farmers in Hacienda Looc “show that the sham CARP is useless in defending farmers’ rights.”

Farmers will stay in front of DAR until Sept. 21. ()

Share This Post