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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Secretary Cimatu's assistance requested as local environment officials' strange activities

Federation of Free Farmers call on DENR to investigate Bukidnon developments

MANILA – The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) expressed concern of a possible syndicate involving devolved personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Bukidnon province.

In a statement, the FFF said the devolved personnel were allegedly exerting pressure and inducing holders of community-based foreign management agreements (CBFMAs) to illegally sublease their landholdings to a giant agri-business company involved in pineapple plantations in the area.

FFF Board Chairman Leonardo Q. Montemayor, in a letter addressed to DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, identified the officials with the PENRO and CENRO believed to be involved in the activities.

Montemayor referred to the case of the Merangeran Free Farmers Association (MERFASI), an FFF affiliate and SEC-registered organization in Quezon, Bukidnon. He said last June 23,2009, MERFASI was awarded CBFMA No. 55150, covering 164.57 hectares of public forest land.

From that time on, former Congressman Montemayor said its members have developed most of their lease area with the required percentage of trees, plus food crops, and a two-hectare residential and community center.

He said the PENRO and CENRO officials encouraged a breakaway faction to register a separate organization with a similar name and the same official address as MERFASI’s, while also claiming CBFMA NO. 55150.

“Last October 5,2020 the rogue group approved a resolution to lease illegally the CBFMA area in favor of Del Monte Philippines, Inc. (DMPI),” FFF said in a statement.

Since early this year, two DENR officials have been repeatedly ordering a joint election of the contending parties purportedly to resolve the organizational disputes, and threatening non-attendees with loss of their CBFMA landholdings and privileges.

Atty. Montemayor confirmed reports DMPI Manager for Land Matters Joel Zacal and Marco Parpan, DMPI legal counsel, have been urging MERFASI-FFF members to sublease their landholdings for up to 12 years in exchange of land rentals, a Christmas bonus, medical and other benefits, the statement concluded. (Melo M. Acuña)

Federation of Free Farmers Chairman Leonardo Q. Montemayor. (Downloaded from Atty. Montemayor's Facebook account)

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