‘Injustice secretary’? Aguirre accused of land-grabbing by farmers’ association

Farmers and settlers in Hacienda Tulugan in Barangay Sta. Rosa in the town of Mulanay in the Quezon province accused Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II of repressing, intimidating and harassing them. They even appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte not to appoint Aguirre as DOJ secretary.

“We fear that with him (Aguirre) as your DOJ secretary, more injustices will come our way in our struggle for our rights to the land that he was not even a part of,” Carlos Icaro Jr. said during a recent interview, as quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Icaro is the president of Hacienda Tulungan Farmers and Settlers Association.

This led columnist Miguel Raymundo to call Aguirre “Injustice Secretary,” as per his column published by the news magazine on June 6, 2016.

However, Aguirre said in an interview on August 2, said that the accusations against him were politically motivated, particularly encouraged by his cousin, Mulanay Mayor Joselito Ojeda, who wanted the settlers to turn against him.

Ojeda denied Aguirre’s allegations, saying “politics has ended” as he already won as mayor. He added, though, that the settlers were merely fighting for justice.

The disputed estate is Hacienda Tulungan, which is a 212-hectare hilly estate located a few kilometers from the town center. It is situated along the Tayabas Bay coastline.

Icaro’s group said they sent Duterte a letter in May, complete with the signatures of four officials and those of their 110 members.

In the letter he provided to the Inquirer, they wrote: “We regret to inform you this, but we have been experiencing different forms of repression, threats and intimidation from the new owners, led by lawyer Vitaliano Aguirre and his relatives, staking their claims on the property.”


Who owns the hacienda?

According to the settlers, the property was originally bought by Francisco Bocobo of Malabon City in 1986. They said it was Aguirre’s older brother and Bocobo’s close friend, Fidel, who convinced Bocobo to buy the farm, where corn, coconut, banana, and other seasonal crops grew.

But even before Bocobo bought the land, most of the members in Icaro’s group have long been settled in the land.

The problem started in 2001 when Bocobo died (as opposed to Inquirer’s article that it was in 2011, based on this blog.)

The hacienda was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission in May 1985 under the ownership of FQB+7 Inc. Its P2 million capital was meant to be spent on “agricultural enterprises.”

Aside from Bocobo, his estate’s incorporators were Fidel Aguirre, Victoriano Santos, and Alfredo Torres. Abelardo Galang, Rolando Bechayda, and Vitaliano Aguirre were added later.

Bocobo owned 4,500 shares, while the others only had 50 each. Vitaliano served as the corporate secretary and treasurer.

Harassment, monthly fees

While settlers cried harassment, citing prohibition from building or fixing their houses, physical harm, unfair sharing of farm sales, payment of monthly fees, cursing, and being ordered to vote for a certain candidate, Aguirre denied the accusations. He said he coexisted peacefully with the tenants, who lived in the land without rent.

Aguirre clarified that he did not manage the land, adding that his only involvement was that he bought 212 hectares for P2.3 million.

He said that Icaro and the other settlers occupied the 40 hectares of the 60 hectares managed by his nephew, Rainier.

As for the monthly fees that the settlers were complaining about, Aguirre explained that since Typhoon Glenda hit Mulanay and stopped the hacienda from harvesting anything, they had to ask for monthly rent of P2 per square meter from the tenants. This meant that those who rented 100 square meter of land have to pay P200 per month in rent.

On the accusations of harassment, Aguirre said that the settlers should have sued him instead of writing Duterte. He also alluded to the settlers of doing this because “they were all in yellow (Liberal Party’s color) while being documented on television, adding that they only wanted to derail his DOJ appointment.

Aguirre’s younger brother Rodolfo also denied the accusations, saying that all they ask is for the settlers to ask for their permission before building anything on the land. He also denied forcing the settlers to vote for a certain candidate, adding that some of them simply asked his family about their preferred candidates.

Aguirre argued that since the FQB+7 was dissolved in 2003, after Bocobo died in 2001, this meant that Bocobo’s heirs are no longer the legitimate owners, but the stockholders like him and his late brother’s heirs. He added that this is why he sued Bocobo’s family because they removed his 50 shares and he won in the Supreme Court. But before this, he lost in the Court of Appeals when the case reached the Manila Regional Court.



The farmers also wrote a letter to former Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes about their ordeal, adding that Aguirre and his family refused to honor their Certificates of Land Ownership and Award (CLOA). They said Aguirre insisted that FQB+7 has lost ownership of the property after its dissolution in 2003.

In his letter-reply to the farmers, Aguirre said: “Pinagloloko lamang kayo ng pulitikong bang-aw na iyan na hindi man lang nakatapos ng kolehiyo. Anong alam niya pagdating sa ganitong kaso? Anong sabi ng DAR tungkol dito sa pinapangarap niyo? (You are just being taken for a ride by that rabid dog politician who has not even finished his college studies. What does he know about cases like these? What did the DAR people tell you about your dreams to own the property?)”

According to Icaro, 92 settlers received their Cloa in 1994. However, these were revoked by the Department of Agrarian Reform in 1997 due to various serious lapses detected and asked the settlers to return their land.

DAR Quezon II office head Cornelio Villapando said that when the Cloas and land were distributed, they were only approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

He said the discrepancies were noticed when Aguirre’s brother, Rodolfo, relocated his three-hectare allocation. The other Cloa holders also relocated, leading to fights over overlapping lot boundaries. Villapando said this prompted them to cancel all the Cloas.

According to Villapando, DAR is eyeing the addition of 30 hectares to the remaining 60 hectares of the Hacienda Tulungan estate.

The FQB+7 will only be given its 5-hectare retention right, including the estate’s “rejected portion (referring to the land with rocky location, roads, two school locations, and undeveloped areas),” said Villapando.

Villapando also said that the government has already paid P4.3 million for the land to Landbank on December 29, 1993, although records showed the FQB+7 did not withdraw the money. He clarified that despite not collecting the money, “the land is considered already paid” and acquired.

This meant the FQB+7 Inc. is no longer the owner of the areas under agrarian reform in Hacienda Tulungan, Villapando said.

He added that Icaro and the other agrarian reform beneficiaries now have the right to the land granted to them.

“They should defend their rights when violated,” Villapando said.

Sources: (,


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