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DAR’s inaction on ‘Hacienda Binay’ shows fear of VP?

12:02 AM April 06, 2016

This has reference to Arnulfo Edralin’s letter titled “What has DAR done about ‘Hacienda Binay’ in Batangas?” (Opinion, 3/24/16). Edralin noted that more than a year has passed since that “hacienda” was exposed without the Department of Agrarian Reform having done anything to protect the agrarian reform program. Indeed, the DAR has a lot of explaining to do.

Much earlier, Sen. Miriam Santiago also took note of the numerous violations committed by the farmer-sellers and buyers of that hacienda, prompting her to recommend its forfeiture in favor of the government and its redistribution to bona fide farmers  (“Santiago wants ‘Hacienda Binay’ distributed to farmers,” News, 11/11/14).

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To date, that “hacienda” remains the most scandalous of all ostentatious display of ill-gotten wealth this country has known—a palatial resort and hideaway amid a landscape of abject poverty.  People in the area would say without hesitation the Binays own it. The Binays camped out there like it was their private playground whenever city life got too boring for them.  Friends of ours who are also friends of the Binays spent nights there, free of charge, at the latter’s invitation. Who but the owners could do that?

Is that “royal estate” really owned by the Binays or by a businessman who dabbles in the tourism industry? The Senate blue ribbon subcommittee said the Binays own it; the businessman swore it’s his—and his only proof of such claim is an undated one-page document which “no crackpot notary public even dared to authenticate as genuine”!  Seriously? No notarial attestation to a deal worth hundreds of millions of pesos?

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Be that as it may, it should make no difference who now owns that vast real estate embracing hundreds of hectares. The DAR should not wait for that issue to be resolved. It should go in and reclaim that vast property for having been alienated in blatant defiance of all agrarian laws. That is its clear mandate under the law.

Or is this just one of those instances where the DAR selectively goes soft—as in the case of “Hacienda Luisita” during the Aquino administrations, and now going limp on “Hacienda Binay” in anticipation of a Binay presidency? As Erap loves to say, “weather-weather lang talaga ’yan”!  If no one takes the laws in this country seriously anymore, where then lies the hope?

—MARCELO “JR” GARCIS, [email protected]

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TAGS: department of agriculture, Elections 2016, Hacienda Binay, Jejomar Binay
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