DAR stops Sicogon project

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has ordered property developer Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) to stop the implementation of its P10-billion tourism estate project on Sicogon Island in Carles town, Iloilo province.

DAR Secretary John R. Castriciones issued a cease-and-desist order (CDO) against ALI, a subsidiary of Ayala Corporation, and its joint venture partner Sicogon Island Development Corp. (Sideco) following a petition filed by agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).

The petition seeks to revoke a conversion order covering 334.64 hectares of land, which was placed under compulsory acquisition under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

The ARBs said ALI and Sideco failed to comply with their obligations stipulated in a signed agreement.

In 2014, farmer-residents represented by the Federation of Sicogon Island Farmers and Fisherfolk Association (FESIFFA) signed the compromise framework agreement with the two developers.

Under the agreement, ALI and Sideco will allocate 30 hectares for resettlement housing, P76 million for the construction of amenities and land preparations for the residential site, P38 million for livelihood and training projects of FESIFFA and its members, and a donation of a 40 hectares of land for conventional farming.

For allegedly failing to abide by these provisions, DAR said the two firms “have been the subject of several dialogues conducted by the agency to resolve the issue raised by FESIFFA and its request to revoke the land conversion order.”

In the seven-page CDO, ALI, Sideco and the persons acting in their behalf are enjoined to “refrain from continuing with construction activities until a petition for revocation of conversion was resolved or acted upon.”

Prohibited activities include “ground preparation, construction of structures, earth-moving activities, and even measuring, testing and surveying activities”

DAR instructed its regional and provincial officers  covering Sicogon and the Philippine National Police, among various administrative agencies,  to ensure the implementation of the CDO.

ALI president and CEO Bernard Vincent Dy, in a report by philstar.com, vowed to comply with the order.

“We continue to operate existing facilities. New developments are on hold. We are working with the DAR to address issues and concerns.”IMT

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