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Lapanday backs President Duterte's stance on agrarian issue in Davao Norte

Lapanday Foods Corp. (LFC) on Wednesday expressed support to the call of President Rodrigo Duterte for the rule of law to prevail over land issues involving the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (MARBAI).

In a statement sent by Bruce Laguesma, Lapanday Diversified Products Corp. cluster manager, the company said it is willing to resolve the issue peacefully and in accordance with the law.

Lapanday issued the statement after the President on Tuesday night engaged the MARBAI members at their picket line near Mendiola bridge, where he ordered Agrarian Reform Secretary Rene Mariano to distribute lands intended for the farmers in accordance with the law.

”As a good corporate citizen, Lapanday has always stood by what is just and fair. The company is steadfast in exercising only what is legal and lawful, which President Duterte said is part of his legacy, to uphold "justice for all," the statement said.

The company believed that President Duterte, being a lawyer, understands that "a final and executory judgment on a case is the ultimate proof that justice and fairness prevailed."

According to Lapanday, it obtained a final and executory order as early as September 2011 that "put to finish" the controversy. The firm said the order approved the compromise agreement of the company and the Hijo Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative-1 (HEARBCO-1), where the members of MARBAI were originally part of.

”It is this order, restated in further subsequent orders, that must be respected by all parties as a sign of compliance with the requirements of the law,” Lapanday said.

Lapanday vowed to “faithfully adhere to the spirit and letter of the law and calls on all parties to discuss a settlement anchored on good faith, fairness and a final mutually acceptable resolution of this problem so we can then continue to contribute to the well-being of the country.”

The Davao del Norte provincial government last April announced that Mariano agreed to postpone the reinstallation of the members of MARBAI in awarded lands in Tagum City to ensure the safety of both the implementing officials and the farmers.

Mariano was in Tagum to supposedly supervise the execution of the Writ of Installation, putting the agrarian reform beneficiaries back in the contested San Isidro (Sanid) farm area inside the former Hijo Plantation.

However, the official deferred the implementation of the writ to a later date for security reasons, after meeting with Governor Anthony del Rosario and Senior Superintendent Valeriano de Leon, Police Regional Office-XI deputy regional director for operations.

It can be recalled that Mariano issued a Cease and Desist Order against Lapanday Foods Corporation (LFC) last December, prohibiting the company and its security guards from forcibly evicting the 159 banana farmers from the 145-hectare land awarded to them in 1996.

Lilian C. Mellejor/PNA