In Isabela, Negros Occ., Fear Grips ARBs in Arroyo’s Estate

Fear has gripped some 20 agrarian reform beneficiaries and their families in a landholding formerly owned by the family of former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo in Hacienda Bacan, Barangay Guintubhan, Isabela town, Negros Occidental.

A source, on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal claimed that armed men were seen roving during night time in their area for several nights now.

The sightings of the armed men came after several ARBs went to the widow of former Provincial Board Member Renato Malabor last week supposedly to borrow some money but were turned down because of their allegedly existing credit.

She explained that since the property of the Arroyos were distributed to them in 2011 most of them have their properties leased by the late Malabor who was then the mayor of the town.

She narrated that way back in 2011 while they were processing their CLOAs on her part covering two hectares, Malabor then the mayor of the town helped and sustained their families sending them rice and foodstuff.

And as soon as they got their CLOAs she claimed that Malabor had them signed documents that they are leasing their acquired properties with him.

She said that there were about 28 out of the 68 total beneficiaries of Hacienda Bacan covering 150 hectares who leased their land with Malabor because they lack the resources to cultivate their acquired property.

While their property is under lease to Malabor she said that they were given rice and foodstuff and P5,000.00 every two weeks.

When Malabor was killed on June 29, 2015 she said his widow, Araceli a retired principal took over.

She claimed that they were allowed to loan money that amounted to P150,000.00 per hectare.

She added that because of some hardship she and her group sought Araceli last week to borrow additional money but were turned down.

She claimed that Araceli told them that she cannot give them additional money and if they want they can get their land back but she will charge them P150,000.00 over the principal loan of P150,000.00 at the same time they will also be charged of the expenses she incurred in cultivating their respective property.

She added that Araceli further told them that if they insist, she will see them in court.

Their group she said decided to hold on to their lands and to harvest the sugarcane planted at the same time put up barricades leading to their properties.

However, she said that since last week, armed men stalked in the area some with long firearms.

“We are afraid because we know they have the money,” she said.

As of yesterday, she said that at around noon their truck which was supposed to be used to load the harvested sugarcane from their properties was prevented by alleged goons of the Malabor’s.

She said they have to request for police assistance.

On the part of Senior Inspector Anthony Grande, police chief of Isabela said that he has received the reports of armed men in the area four days ago.

He also confirmed that Saturday night, January 30, 2016, residents in the hacienda called them on the sightings of armed men in the area after a shot was also heard.

He said that when the police arrived, there were no more armed men seen.

Grande said that they continue to monitor the area regarding the presence of armed men in the area.

He added that he was also directed by Isabela Mayor Enrique Montilla III to increase police visibility to maintain peace and order in the area while the dispute is being settled by both parties.*



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