MANILA, Philippines — Lapanday Foods Corp. thanked President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday for stressing the need to comply with legal requirements in resolving its dispute with agrarian reform beneficiaries over a banana plantation in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.
The day before, Duterte met with some 200 members of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Inc. who have been camping out at Mendiola.
While assuring them he sided with them on their dispute with Lapanday, he urged them to bear with due process even as he warned landed oligarchs that he would allow their properties to be occupied if they fail to settle their obligations to government, such as taxes.
In December last year the row between the agricultural firm owned by the Lorenzo family and Marbai turned violent when company guards opened fire on farmers who had erected a barricade outside the plantation, wounding several of the protesters.
Earlier this year, the Department of Agrarian Reform, which had ordered the farmers installed on the disputed land, failed to do so, blaming the failure on the alleged refusal of local police to provide assistance.
Late last month, the New People’s Army attacked two plants and a ranch owned by the Lorenzos in Davao City, torching the facilities and seizing dozens of firearms.
In its statement, Lapanday said it supported Duterte’s call “to ensure that the rule of law is exercised to the fullest and for the courts to swiftly resolve the issue involving the farmers from Davao who held a rally in Mendiola.”
“Lapanday appreciates the clear order of President Duterte to DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform) Secretary Paeng Mariano that as soon as the requirements of the law (are) completed and accomplished the Secretary is to ‘go ahead’ and implement the law’,” it added.
The company said it was “thankful that despite the emotions involved” in the case, “the President stressed that justice must be served.” It added that it “appreciates the President’s personal involvement in this case.”
It said it had “always stood by what is just and fair in dealing with its partners and the communities it serves” and maintained it was “exercising only what is legal and lawful in dealing with its employees and the environment where it operates.”