DAR’s Mariano can revoke SC ruling just like that? RCBC fights bid to seize land bought from Hda. Luisita

May 2, 2017 - 5:17 PM
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Militant farmers break down a portion of the wall of Hacienda Luisita in their own version of "Occupy", citing an SC ruling that mandated the distribution of the land. However, RCBC said its industrial site next to Luisita was bought after SC cleared its conversion, and wants the farmers and DAR cited for contempt. PHOTO BY DAX SIMBOL, INTERAKSYON
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MANILA – The Department of Agrarian Reform illegally revoked a ruling of the Supreme Court allowing the conversion of the 300-hectare industrial property of RCBC next to Hacienda Luisita, the Yuchengco-led bank said Tuesday as it vowed to exert all legal remedies to assert its righhts.

The site in question, where dozens of people claiming to be tenants had descended last week and destroyed portions of a fence, is not covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, “as DAR itself ordered its conversion in 1996 from agricultural,” RCBC said in a statement.

The property was subsequently acquired from its previous owner, Luisita Industrial Park Corporation, in 2004, RCBC added.

In 2012, “the validity of the conversion was upheld by the Supreme Court with finality,” RCBC stressed.

Thus, the bank said, the order issued by incumbent DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano last February, reversing DAR’s conversion order of 1996 and classifying the property as agricultural again, “directly violates the said Supreme Court decision issued five (5) years ago.”

DAR has “no authority to revoke the conversion order and overrule the Supreme Court,” and Mariano’s order “completely lacks legal basis,” said RCBC.

Even assuming DAR has the authority, it denied RCBC due process by unilaterally acting to revoke the 1996 conversion order, the bank complained/

RCBC has filed a motion for reconsideration with the DAR to call its attention “to its absolute lack of jurisdiction to issue the order, but its inaction on the matter has encouraged the eruption of violence in the area,” said the RCBC statement sent to media offices Tuesday.

“Rule of law must prevail to keep the peace. In this case, it starts with respect for the orders of the highest court of the land. RCBC will explore all legal remedies to protect its interest,” said the statement., issued through Atty. George dela Cuesta.