RCI vows to vacate affected individuals peacefully

Roxas & Co. Inc. (RCI) clarified that it has no financial obligations to some 50,000 Batangas farmers and other individuals who will be affected by the company’s planned real estate development across its three haciendas, but to ensure that they are vacated peacefully.

In a clarification to the the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), RCI said that while it has a duty to ensure that affected individuals are vacated peacefully, the company has “no other financial obligations to the latter.” 

This is the first time RCI clearly stated that they have no obligation to give any additional compensation to the agrarian reform beneficiaries and the informal settlers affected by the company’s planned development in the three haciendas of RCI.

Last week, some 1,000 residents of Batangas gathered at Makati’s Freedom Park to protest the plans of RCI to evict some 50,000 individuals from Haciendas Palico, Banilad and Kaylaway covering up to 2,941 hectares in nine barangays. 

Batangas farmers have been protesting a Department of Agrarian Reform order concerning over 2,941 hectares across RCI’s three haciendas, as they called for a more equitable distribution of the land and more compensation for the ARBs as well as the informal settlers who will be displaced.

RCI, in its disclosure, said there are “no actions planned on the properties and affected parties until our company receives further instructions from the DAR.”
This means that any of the alleged 50,000 individuals who are informal settlers and not on the decades old list of a little over 1,200 ARBs would be evicted from their homes with no compensation.

RCI expressed its concerns to the PSE regarding the recent protest staged by agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB) from Nasugbu, Batangas, and called on the cooperation of all parties involved to respect the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) final decision about their long standing land ownership dispute. 

“The protest activities of the ARBs are both concerning and confounding to RCI, especially because both parties willingly agreed to submit themselves to the jurisdiction of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and are therefore obliged to follow the decision of the department,” the company said in a statement.

The company said that, this is despite RCI’s own dissatisfaction with DAR’s decree noting that, “In truth, the DAR’s order was not exactly the scenario that RCI had hoped for, but we upheld our commitment and respectfully complied with the decision to award half of the 2,600-hectare to RCI, and the other half to the ARBs.”

The 50-50 split between RCI and ARBs was the ultimatum decided by the DAR through a consolidated order, ending a three-decade dispute over the legitimate ownership of thousands of hectares of land in Nasugbu, Batangas. 

RCI pointed out that all parties involved had to first agree to defer to DAR’s evaluation before proceeding with the resolution.

The firm said it found the delayed reaction to DAR’s decision “perplexing,” pointing out the fact that “six months after they agreed to defer to the DAR’s judgment, a handful of ARBs are suddenly staging public protests.”

The company also lamented alleged attempts by the protesters to paint RCI as “the one responsible for their grievances, when in fact the company was an equal and deferential party to the ruling.” 

RCI, furthermore, debunked claims that it has financial obligations to the ARBs, “which is contrary to the DAR order.” 

Additionally, the company gave its assurance that it has yet to act on the land allocated to them by the DAR. “Any statements on actions being taken, or to be taken, on or against the properties concerned are mere speculation at this point,” the company commented.

RCI affirmed its intentions to continue complying with the issued resolution, and encouraged all parties involved to “uphold due process and accept the DAR’s order.” 

“The sooner the parties involved can cooperate, the sooner everyone can find resolution to this long-standing dispute,” RCI concluded.