CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—A deal to develop pineapples for a multinational firm in Bukidnon has opened a pandora’s field of accusations from one group of farmers in opposition to one other and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Leonardo Montemayor, nationwide chair of the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF), in a press release accused atmosphere officers within the province of brokering a deal to permit the multinational Del Monte to lease farmers’ land coated by community-based forestry administration agreements (CBFMA) issued by the DENR for lands categorized as forests.
In his assertion, Montemayor, additionally former agriculture secretary accused DENR officers in Bukidnon—Vergilino Alima, Bukidnon provincial atmosphere officer (Penro), and Virgilio Batocail, group atmosphere officer (Cenro) of Don Carlos city and Valencia City—of “pressuring holders” of CBFMA papers to “illegally sublease their landholdings” to Del Monte.
Cash for taxes
But the top of the farmers’ group concerned within the deal stated the native atmosphere officers had no function to play in his group’s deal with Del Monte for a pineapple growers’ contract within the group’s CBFMA space.
Victoriano Cuizon Jr., president of the farmers’ group Merangerang Farmers’ Association (Merfasi), stated his group initiated the deal to lift sufficient money to pay taxes to the provincial authorities.
Cuizon instructed the Inquirer that the settlement to develop pineapples with Del Monte didn’t push via due to the feud between his group and one other allied with Montemayor’s FFF.
“We really wanted to make that deal because we needed to pay our taxes but because of the tension, it was put on hold,” he stated in a cellphone interview.
He stated the choice to enter right into a deal with Del Monte was made by his group and never Alima nor Batocail. The two DENR officers, stated Cuizon, “were not part of our agreement with Del Monte.”
In his assertion, Montemayor accused Alima and Batocail of encouraging Merfasi to register as a gaggle separate from FFF however with the identical. title and handle and claiming the identical CBFMA space.
Alima and Batocail instructed the Inquirer in separate cellphone interviews that they merely needed to unify the feuding farmers’ teams however had nothing to do with Merfasi’s deal with Del Monte.
Alima stated it was completely legit for Merfasi to enter right into a deal with any firm for its CBFMA so long as the contract was lawful.
Alima stated he assumed his submit solely in 2017 whereas the feud between the 2 Merfasi factions had been happening lengthy earlier than that.
Cuizon stated Merfasi had initially been a gaggle of 70 farmers who, on June 23, 2009, was awarded CBFMA No. 55150, overlaying 164.57 hectares of public forest land within the city of Quezon, Bukidnon.
But the group, which was once an FFF affiliate, had been divided between those that remained with the FFF and those that opted to depart the nationwide group.
He stated most of his members had determined to bolt the FFF in 2009 when the group registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) below the title Merfasi.
“We were the original group,” Cuizon stated.
He stated his group registered as Merfasi (Merangerang Farmers Association). However, 26 of its members, additionally bolted and registered with the SEC as a separate group known as Merangeran Free Farmers’ Association (Merfasi), “claiming the same CBFMA.”
He stated the 2 factions distinguished themselves from one another by referring to the FFF-affiliated group because the Merangeran Free Farmers and Cuizon’s group as Merangeran Farmers, with out the phrase “free.”
“But because we have the same CBFMA, we pay our tax as a whole, and our group usually ends up paying the tax of the entire tract of land, including that of the other faction,” Cuizon added.
Batocail, who assumed his submit simply final 12 months, stated he solely needed the feuding factions to unite when he known as for a gathering of the 2 opposing events final May 25. Only 5 of the FFF-affiliated Merfasi members attended whereas most of Cuizon’s 52 members confirmed up.
According to Cuizon, his group, and never the FFF-affiliated Merfasi, first registered with SEC in 2009.
But Montemayor referred to Cuizon’s group because the “rogue” group which authorised a decision to “lease illegally” the CBFMA space to Del Monte.
Cuizon stated the deal was for his group to develop pineapples for Del Monte and subleasing the CBFMA space was not a part of it.
“We don’t want to sublease it because the rate would be very cheap, we would not be earning enough,” Cuizon stated.
He stated the farmers owed the provincial authorities a tax of near P1 million for the CBFMA. He stated for years, his group had been paying the tax of the whole CBFMA, together with the half held by the opposite faction, however no deal with Del Monte was potential due to the feud.
“We don’t want to be penalized, that’s why we decided to enter into an agreement with Del Monte so that we could raise enough money to pay the taxes,” Cuizon stated. The taxes, he stated, weren’t for the land however for the crops, like corn and sugarcane, that his group planted inside their CBFMA space.
In one other assertion, Montemayor stated DENR inaction on the problem was “contributing to escalating tension” and potential violence over the CBFMA space.
The deal with Del Monte, based on Montemayor, was value at the very least P25 million, citing experiences.
In his assertion, Montemayor quoted FFF Bukidnon president Glicerio J. Tan as blaming the battle on the failure of Alima and Batocail to implement a DENR directive in 2015 that corrected the title of the CBFMA holder from Merangeran Farmers Association Inc. to Merangeran Free Farmers Association Inc.
Montemayor’s assertion stated Merfasi and its members have been with FFF for the final 30 to 40 years. During utility for CBFMA, a “bureaucratic mistake” led to Merfasi’s incomplete title being listed on the CBFMA doc.
Tan was additional quoted as saying there was an “inexplicable delay” by the native DENR workplace in correcting the Merfasi title which “emboldened a breakaway group.”
But final May 17, the Securities and Exchange Commission ordered the group of Cuizon to vary its title or face revocation of its registration with the SEC.
The Cuizon faction entered into the deal with Del Monte every week earlier than its SEC registration, Montemayor’s assertion stated.
This, regardless of opposition to the deal relayed to the native DENR workplace by the FFF faction of Merfasi, stated Montemayor within the assertion.
It quoted Tan as accusing Batocail and Alima of ordering Merfasi-FFF to submit itself to a DENR-supervised election of leaders together with the breakaway group which the 2 DENR officers stated was their approach of making an attempt to unify the group.
The two DENR officers allegedly threatened Merfasi members, who wouldn’t submit themselves to the elections, with lack of landholding, based on Montemayor’s assertion, citing Tan.
The elections, nonetheless, had been cancelled on the final minute, based on Montemayor’s assertion.
Tan was quoted as saying that final May 26, “outsiders” recruited by Cuizon’s group “forced their way” into the Merfasi CBFMA “waving bladed weapons against Merfasi members.”
The Merfasi FFF faction, the assertion of Montemayor stated, had already filed a grievance in opposition to Alima and Batocail for violating the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007 for failure to right the group’s company title.
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