Farmers dare Iggy Arroyo: Place land under CARP

A PEASANT federation based in Bacolod City on Tuesday dared presidential brother-in-law and Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo to make good his word and place the 157-hectare family-owned Hacienda Bacan in Isabela, Negros Occidental under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

In a press statement, Task Force Mapalad also said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should send people like her brother-in-law to jail for “sabotaging her efforts” if she is intent on fulfilling her promise to make the country self-sufficient.

Reacting to a newspaper report quoting Representative Arroyo as saying that the family is still keen in having Hacienda Bacan covered by land reform, Task Force Mapalad president Jose Rodito Angeles said the congressman should “personally process it with the Land Bank of the Philippines by getting, first of all, a Special Power of Attorney from his manong—First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.”

Arroyo, through Rivulet Agro Industrial Corp., a company he chairs, is seeking the conversion of Hacienda Bacan from an agricultural to industrial land as part of its plan to construct an ethanol plant in what Task Force Mapalad said was attempt to have the property exempted from CARP.

Sixty-seven farmer beneficiaries stand to lose their claim to the property if Hacienda Bacan is converted, according to Task Force Mapalad.

The land is supposed to be subjected to compulsory acquisition in 1996 but the distribution has been held up because of the question over its true ownership.

Registered under Rivulet, Hacienda Bacan has been with the Arroyo family for decades and mortgaged several times. It was foreclosed by the Isabela municipal government after it accumulated P176.7 million in unpaid taxes and bought by First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo. The First Gentleman, however, has not formally issued a special power of attorney in relation to transactions covering Hacienda Bacan.

TFM spokesperson Edna Sobrecaray said Representative Arroyo should be ashamed for “saying one thing and doing another.” Based on the events transpiring in the province, he has no intent of letting go of their property, she said.

“They want to convert the sugarcane land into a kasla plantation in the guise of protecting the environment but the truth is, he is actually protecting his property,” Sobrecaray said, referring to Rivulet’s pending land use conversion application.

She added, “It is clear that this absentee congressman does not know what is happening on the ground. He should be ashamed that the Isabela farmers are his constituents and their interests should be promoted by the congressman.”