NEGROS PROVINCE, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 9, 2010) - After two years of prodding by Filipino farmers, the Registry of Deeds of Negros Occidental province finally registered a new title for Hacienda Bacan which was previously owned by Jose Miguel Arroyo, the husband of former Philippine leader Gloria Arroyo, in the name of its 68 farmer-beneficiaries.
The new title, Certificate of Land Ownership Award No. 00916859, was registered on October 26 by Register of Deeds lawyer Romulo Gonzaga.
Gonzaga had previously defied repeated orders by the Department of Agrarian Reform and calls by the farmer-beneficiaries to register a new title allegedly because of pressure from Arroyo. The property was placed under coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in 2001.
It was acquired by the government in July 2008 after the Land Bank issued payment of over P142 million in the name of Rivulet Agro-Industrial Corporation, the registered corporate owner of the hacienda.
The CLOA covered 148 hectares of the total 157 hectares of the hacienda, located in the village of Guintubhan in Isabela. Jose Charito Celis, a leader of the farmer-beneficiaries, said that although they had been asking for re-titling of the hacienda, they were still surprised when they learned recently that their CLOA had been registered.
“We have been camped out in front of DAR in Quezon City for a month now, and we have been urging the Land Registration Authority to do something and suddenly our CLOA is registered. We are surprised, because we did not expect that Atty. Gonzaga himself to do it. Probably the new LRA leadership has something to do with it. In that case we are very grateful,” Celis said in a statement.
He said they will ask DAR for their immediate installation in the awarded property. “We do not know how Mr. Arroyo and Rivulet Corporation will react to this. Our fight is not yet over. We still have to actually take possession of our land. We hope that Mr. Arroyo and the people working for him will not resist,” Celis said.