Lapanday refutes agrarian reform advocates’ claims
Lapanday Foods Corp. (LFC) writes to correct the misleading claims and erroneous assertions made in a letter titled “Defying DAR, Lapanday invokes rule of law” (Opinion, 5/26/17).
First, the allegation that LFC deployed 800 guards is false and baseless. In fact, the Philippine National Police-Supervisory Office of the Security and Investigation Agencies, regularly and upon request of other parties, conducts inspections of the legitimate security guards posted in critical and vulnerable areas of the plantation to ensure the safety and security of farm workers and of the facilities. It never found these alleged 800 guards. And it has not issued any adverse findings.
Second, the agreement between LFC and the Hijo Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative-1 (Hearbco-1) works. It is honored and respected by the majority members of the cooperative, who are fully aware of its terms. In fact, they approved and ratified it in a general assembly.
To emphasize how the present agreement has helped the cooperative and its members, Hearbco-1 chair Guillermo Tuyor, in the hearing of the House of Representatives’ committee on human rights last March 7, testified that contrary to the false and baseless claims of other groups, Hearbco-1 and its majority members are very happy with their current partnership with LFC. Hearbco-1 even invited the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Cooperative Authority of the Philippines to witness the signing of the agreement.
Tuyor also stressed that the members are earning very well. In fact, the cooperative was able to obtain a reduction of its accounts. It also secured the best preferential interest rate which no bank can ever extend to it.
Finally, he told the committee, as well, that the prices LFC pays for the fruits are better than what other buyers pay. Even Land Bank, which has comparative data on buying prices, acknowledged that LFC’s buying price for Hearbco-1 fruits is the highest in the banana industry at present. This proves that a mutually beneficial partnership can develop for the benefit of agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Third, LFC, as a good and upright corporate citizen, recognizes and adheres to the tenets of due process. It has the right to seek and exhaust all legal remedies to protect and vindicate its rights. After all, in a democracy, respect for the rule of law is paramount, and the interpreter of laws are the courts.
The fact is, DAR, under Secretary Rafael Mariano, defied the Sept. 30, 2011, final and executory order of the Davao City Regional Trial Court Branch 14, which upheld the compromise agreement between Hearbco-1 and LFC. The same court, in denying the petition of DAR to assume jurisdiction over the case, ruled that DAR had no business interfering since it had no jurisdiction over the case which did not involve an agrarian dispute. This order has not been reversed.
Despite the court ruling, DAR went ahead to pursue its illegal and unlawful plan. Hence, a recourse to a court of law is right and just.
Finally, Lapanday complies with the law, and respects the Constitution. It expects nothing less from DAR, or from anyone who believes in justice and democracy.
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HERNANI P. GERONIMO, Lapanday Foods Corp.
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