“Everybody knows that the Cojuangco-Aquinos, the very family of the president keep their clutches on Hacienda Luisita, dodging land reform and sketching new schemes just to keep the lands away from the farmworkers hands,” said Joseph Canlas, Amgl chairperson.
The group said that Aquino being the president is also the chair of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Committee (PARC), the very body who decided to revoke the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) on December 23, 2005, acted against his mandate when he did not pursue the resolution, performed within the interest of his family, adopted a “hands-off” policy and claimed the issue as an “intra-corporate” dispute.
“Aquino’s presidency only extended the anguish of the Hacienda Luisita farmworkers, roading away from land reform and social justice. At his own backyard, where he has direct involvement, he upheld his feudal trait and served his landlord family, destroying the hope of the farmworkers for reform and upliftment,” Canlas said.
The Supreme Court has yet to decide on the revocation of SDO and farmworkers concern that it would be favorable to the Cojuangco-Aquinos such as the ordering of another referendum that would comprise a scheme similar to SDO.
In addition, Amgl said that land grabbing and displacement worsened during the first year of Aquino. The group is citing cases: near the interchange of Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (Sctex) and Sta. Rosa-Tarlac national road in Tarlac City and La Paz town; the 13,000-hectares covered by the Republic Act 10083 or Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Act of 2010 (Apeco) in Casiguran and 312-hectare Food Basket program in Maria Aurora, Aurora province; the 386.8-hectares involving 12 barangays in Bayambang town, Pangasinan claimed by the Cojuangco-owned Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) Realty Corp.; land grabbing of military officials and displacement of farmers within the 3,100-hectares in Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Laur, Nueva Ecija; the 57,930-hectare watershed program of Lopez-controlled Energy Development Corp. (EDC) and California Energy (CalEn) that displaces indigenous peoples’ communities in Pantabangan and Carranglan towns, Nueva Ecija; displacement in many areas in Bataan; massive cancellation of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA), Certificate of Land Transfer (CLT) and Emancipation Patents (EP) in many towns of Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Tarlac and Pangasinan; land grabbing of Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte of the 300-hectares in San Miguel, Bulacan and displacement of farmers cultivating 84-hectares formerly part of Hacienda Davis in Guimba, Nueva Ecija.
“The very cause of these agrarian unrest is Aquino’s implementation of CARPer, which keeps the lands under landlord control and away from the farmers. Instead of realizing land reform, farmers’ CLOAs, CLTs and EPs are massively being cancelled,” Canlas said.
Amgl said that Aquino is extending the programs of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo such as the enhanced “W-corridor” and its road program Metro-Luzon Urban Beltway (MLUB) The corridor is composed superhighways and national roads piercing through the region’s provinces from west to east and south to north. MLUB is primarily composed of the Sctex, Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (Tplex), North Luzon East Expressway (Nlex East), Central Luzon Expressway (Clex) and network of national roads. The “W-corridor” is also pinpointed by eco-zones and industrial hubs in the region namely, Masinloc Eco Zone (Zambales), Subic Bay Special Economic Zone and Freeport (Zambales), Bataan Technology Park in Morong, Bataan Export Processing Zone in Mariveles, Clark Special Eco Zone, Hacienda Luisita Eco Zone, Hermosa (Bataan) Eco Zone, Magalang (Pampanga) MADCI, Philippine Jewelry Center in Meycauayan, Bulacan, Gapan, Cabanatuan City and Science City of Muñoz in Nueva Ecija, then towards Baler and Dingalan freeport in Aurora.
“By the very development program adopted by the Aquino government, the interest of the marginalized sectors such as land reform is nowhere to be found. His program and policies treated the region’s farmers as insects or pest that should be wiped out or swept aside,” Canlas said.
Amgl said that the construction of superhighways are converting and planning to convert about 1,222.6-hectares, Tplex has covered about 442.6-hectares, while Clex and Nlex East are planning to convert about 780-hectares. The group said that farmers’ communities, even local government officials are protesting the construction of Tplex as it would cause the trapping of water resulting to massive flooding.
“Aquino is pushing to convert the region’s prime agricultural lands into cemented estates, he is threatening our food security such as Nueva Ecija being the rice granary supplying about 9% of the country’s rice supply. His Public-Private Partnership Progam (PPP) is serving the interest of foreign monopoly, rich businesses and big landlords, not the farmers, indigenous peoples and fisherfolk,” Canlas said.
The group said that Aquino’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan is a bastardization of the concept. Based from the recent fact-finding missions the group conducted, elements of the military usually base on civillian structures such as barangay halls, daycare centers and local residence. They are ununiformed, using the civilians as human shields, harassing farmers working on their lands and displacing them. Those who struggle for their right to land are usually charged of trumped up charges such as Ernesto Bubod, an Igorot farmer in Pantabangan and Florentino Pagatpatan, farmer from Guimba, Nueva Ecija.
“We dub Aquino’s first year of administration as dark cloud over the region’s farmers, similar to an imminent typhoon to destroy our lives and livelihood, a man-made disaster to wreak havoc in the region, the only way out is for the broad farmers to unite and protect our farms and fight for our rights to land,” Canlas said. #