to the Cojuangco-Aquinos and RCBC. (Photo by AMGL)
The Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL, Farmers’ Alliance in Central Luzon) and Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) warned the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) against misleading the Hacienda Luisita farmworkers as officials visited the sugar-estate in Tarlac city and publicized their power-point presentation of their interpretation of the Nov. 22 Supreme Court decision ordering the immediate distribution of lands.
“We warn DAR of misleading Luisita farmworkers as we believe this is an effort to ‘divide and conquer’ the Amabala-led farmworkers. They are under the control and influence of president Aquino who is the ‘defender’ of the Cojuangco-Aquino’s interests over the hacienda,” said Joseph Canlas, AMGL Chairperson.
AMGL and Ambala demanding the immediate and free distribution of the 4,915-hectares agricultural lands in contrast to DAR’s early statement that it would be covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with ‘Reforms’ (CARPer). DAR has also yet to act on the petition of the farmworkers to cancel the conversion order of the 500-hectares at Brgy. Balete covering the lands being claimed by the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), Luisita Realty Corp. (LRC) and Luisita Industrial Park Co. (Lipco).
“We just learned of the DAR’s activity when we saw their announcement posted at different barangays, it did not state whether it is the municipal, provincial or the regional DAR. They did not inform us of this activity, they coordinated with barangay officials who are known for cooperating with the Cojuangco-Aquinos. As we being legitimate beneficiaries, they did not bother to inform us, thus, we view this as undermining our leadership among the farmworkers,” said Felix Nacpil, Jr., Ambala Chairperson.
Ambala and the United Luisita Workers’ Union participated in the activity to guard against DAR’s misinformation efforts such as the lands should be implemented through CARPer, compensating the Cojuangco-Aquinos obliging farmworker-beneficiaries’ (FWBs) amortization and promotion of distributing individual certificate of land ownership awards (CLOA).
“DAR’s role in Hacienda Luisita should be very limited, they should only take part on how to legalize the distribution of lands to the farmworkers. They have no comprehension nor right to interfere with the actual distribution as only the Ambala and Ulwu organizations have deep knowledge of who among the Hacienda Luisita residents actually contributed in developing the agricultural lands. All they have is the list with the names of 6,296 FWBs. As president Aquino is demanding compensation, they would be held against the wall if they push with the farmworkers paying amortization,” said Canlas.
“DAR would face many problems if they attempt to implement CARPer or a similar scheme as it would only benefit FWBs on the list. They would also meet many protest among those who would be excluded by their program,” Nacpil said.
AMGL and Ambala said that the case of Hacienda Luisita has exposed the weakness of CARPer and any land distribution schemes provisioned in the constitution.
“As there is no provision whatsoever in the constitution that spirits genuine land reform or the free distribution of lands, CARPer seemed useless and inferior as the case of Hacienda Luisita has surpassed the premise that the FWBs should amortize on the lands,” Canlas said.
AMGL and Ambala affirmed that the ‘bungkalan’ (cultivation) campaign they are now implementing in many barangays is far more superior and beneficial to the FWBs than implementing CARPer or similar schemes. Ambala and Ulwu is prioritizing farmworkers who have been cultivating the lands for many decades and excluding those who have colluded with the Cojuangco-Aquinos.
“If DAR includes those who plotted with Cojuangco-Aquinos, who are now serving as ‘financiers’ of sugar cultivation, they would enrage the farmworkers,” Canlas said.
The groups also warned DAR to plug up the intrusion of speculators such as a certain Marilou Abrilles, who is grabbing lands at adjacent barangays where the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx) toll plaza is being constructed. The farmworkers spotted Abrilles with a Tarlac City MARO official Lydia Lundang and a retired MARO official Maximo Santiago entering the hacienda and talking to barangay officials. Santiago accumulated lands in Hacienda Villa Abrilles and Hacienda De Leon for his family at the TPLEx site that should be distributed to the farmers.
“If DAR is really sincere of its actions, it should immediately cancel the conversion order of the 500-hectares in Brgy. Balete, reprimand its officials colluding with speculators and cooperate with Ambala and Ulwu,” Canlas said. #