MANILA – The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) will benefit from the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council’s (PARC) decision to uphold the leaseback agreement between majority of the farmers and one of the country’s top export banana growers in Davao region.
“Since we are in a democracy, the will of the majority will be followed and what the minority insists cannot be done because the majority of the farmers will benefit as well as the corporation which entered into this agreement with the beneficiaries,” DAR Secretary John Castriciones said in an interview with Davao-based radio RGMA on Wednesday.
On September 1, the PARC decided to uphold and continue the leaseback agreement between Marsman Estate Plantations Inc. (MEPI) and majority of ARBs under the Davao Marsman Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative (DAMARB MPC).
Castriciones appealed to the minority ARBs of MEPI to respect the decision, saying what important is that the farmers continue to receive their benefits from the banana exporter company based on the leaseback deal.
He said the decision effectively negated PARC Resolution No. 2016-30-05 issued in 2016 that led to the revocation of the lease agreement between MEPI and DAMRAB MPC.
DAMARB MPC represents the majority or about 92 percent of the 700 farmers working with MEPI.
“The majority voted that the first resolution should be set aside because it will affect the majority of the ARBs. Furthermore, the ARBs and MEPI already have a new agreement which basically says they will continue with their agribusiness venture agreement (AVA). The decision is not only favorable to MEPI but also to DAMARB MPC [members]. The two [parties] want to continue with their AVA agreement,” Castriciones said.
He said if a minority of the ARBs who opposed the agreement will pursue their plan to separate and to have their own plantation, this will affect the majority of the farmers.
Castriciones said even if the minority beneficiaries oppose the deal, they continue to receive the same benefits that the majority farmers get from MAPI.
MEPI’s agrarian reform beneficiaries received their land for free under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program without any cost to them and the government but on the condition that there will be a leaseback agreement.
Under the deal with MEPI, the beneficiaries receive the highest land rental in the country’s agricultural sector with PHP90,000 per hectare, aside from other benefits.
DAMARB MPC members said amid the coronavirus disease pandemic, it is important to have a lease contract with a stable company such as MEPI. (PNA)