The decades-old land dispute involving 263- hectare property owned by the Litton family and now being managed by Riverforest Development Corp. (RDC) is now nearing resolution following the reported intercession of the local government.
Dani Beltran, manager of RDC, said 47 houses of 73 families, were set for demolition on Wednesday. Tension gripped the villages following resistance from residents except for a few who volunteered to demolish their houses.
Last Monday, the local government through Hermosa Mayor Jopet Inton and Bataan Gov. Jose Enrique Garcia III offered to help the affected residents by facilitating the immediate release of certificate of land ownership award (CLOA) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Inton offered financial assistance worth P27,000 per family and relocation site in Barangay Saguing, in Dinalupihan. The residents, however, refused to relocate in Dinalupihan.
The land dispute was sparked by a petition of a number of Barangay Sumalo residents with the Department of Agrarian Reform to have the Litton Estate covered under the comprehensive agrarian reform program (CARP).
The RDC opposed the move saying the property is not suitable to agriculture but for commercial and industrial uses.
The Samahan ng Mamamayang Nagkakaisa ng Barangay Sumalo struggled for years since 1979 to have the property covered by CARP but to no avail.
It was Judge Philip Cruz of Dinalupihan-Hermosa Municipal Circuit Trial Court who decided in 2018 ruling in favor of RDC.
Belinda Petinez, one of the barangay leaders who petitioned the DAR said she has accepted the destiny after years of struggle to fight for their rights.
“Nagkusa na po kaming magdemolish para walang gulo,” she said.