House probe on Rep. Luis Villafuerte’s landgrabbing in Bulacan pressed

House probe on Rep. Luis Villafuerte’s landgrabbing in Bulacan pressed

Farmer groups on Friday urged the House of Representatives to investigate the alleged involvement of Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte on landgrabbing case involving 375 hectares of agricultural lands in municipalities of San Miguel and Doña Remedios Trinidad in Bulacan province.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), and farmer groups Lingap Magsasaka and the Upland Farmers Association asked House Speaker Prospero Nograles to designate the appropriate house committees to probe Rep. Villafuerte, whom they accused of conniving with the officials of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Region III in acquiring the lands previously awarded.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said the landgrabbing escapade of Rep. Villafuerte violated the land rights of some 200 farmer beneficiaries or around 1,000 farmers in two towns of Bulacan.

“Speaker Nograles should look into this crime of landgrabbing perpetrated by one of the staunch allies of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” Ramos said.

“Rep. Villafuerte, the despotic landlord from Bicol expanded the tentacle of his landgrabbing escapade in Bulacan. This is a political reward to him for his untainted loyalty and dedication to the ruling syndicate in Malacañang,” said Ramos.

The KMP leader further asserted that House Speaker Nograles is legally, morally and politically obliged to lead the House of Representatives to investigate one of their peers who is implicated in the one of the biggest agrarian crimes of the millennium. “This is a make or break situation here for the entire House leadership,” Ramo said.

Villafuerte, former President of the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) is a close ally of President Arroyo. He led other pro-Arroyo congressmen in crushing the impeachment complaints filed against the President, and initially sponsored the Charter Change resolution seeking to convene both houses into a Constituent Assembly, which critics said was a ploy to extend the term of President Arroyo beyond 2010.

The KMP said the 200 farmer beneficiaries are holders of Emancipation Patents (EPs), Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) and Certificate of Land Transfers (CLTs) and have been tilling the 375 hectare land since 1963.

The group leaned that on March 2, 2009, DAR Region III issued an exemption order canceling all land titled distributed to farmer beneficiaries because of their “failure” to develop the awarded lands for agricultural production, which the beneficiaries denied.

“What failures the DAR Region III officials were talking about? There is no truth to DAR allegations that farmer beneficiaries re-missed their work to develop the lands awarded to them. That’s one big baloney, a hoax meant to inflict agrarian reform reversals on farmers. The allegations were orchestrated by DAR to justify the landgrabbing spree of Rep. Villafuerte,” asked KMP.

“The regional office of DAR made this sweeping cancellation of land titles to allow Rep. Villafuerte to declare the 375-hectare land as his private property. This is very, very unfair, this is injustice to the highest order to all farmer beneficiaries,” the KMP said.

KMP said Rep. Villafuerte has employed the services of members of the Scout Ranger of the 56th Infantry Batallion who joined the congressman’s private army in harassing farmer beneficiaries.

The peasant group said the intimidating presence of members of Army and Villafuerte’s armed goons prevented farmers from attending their farm lots inside the 375 hectare agricultural land that encompassed the barrios of Malapad na Parang, Sibul and Calumpang in San Miguel, and barrios Durumugan and Kalawakan ng Bayan in Doña Trinidad Remedios.

Reports reaching the KMP national office in Quezon City also revealed that Rep. Villafuerte plans to put up a mango farm and several fishponds inside the sprawling 375 hectares of agricultural lands. The lawmaker also intends to raise bamboo and malunggay, and build housing units, which the group theorized as parts of the eco-tourism and agribusiness projects envisioned by the Camarines Sur solon. #

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Filed under agrarian reform, corruption

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