“Who in the right mind would accept this? Aquino is making land reform as a lottery. This is total mockery of land reform and contempt to us farm workers,” Floria Sibayan said, Ambala acting chairperson.
Sibayan said that farm workers are angered by the scheme of DAR as the lands they are supposed to cultivate would be located in other barangays. She illustrated the case of Brgy. Cutcut, where farm workers were cultivating about 200 hectares of rice farm as a result of their “bungkalan” (cultivation) campaign since 2005. Based on DAR’s arrangement, the lands of the Cutcut farm workers would be possibly relocated.
“DAR is really pushing too far. They have delayed the distribution by making up a new list of FWBs, non-identification of the auditing firm, re-surveying of the land, the imposition of the promissory note and suggesting the sugar block farming which is obviously to benefit the Cojuangco-Aquino family. And now, this lottery scheme of distributing lands,” Sibayan said.
Sibayan added that DAR reduced the hectarage from 4,915 hectares as per decision of the Supreme Court to be distributed to 4,099 hectares. It has excluded lands claimed by the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), Centenary Holding and SCTEx . DAR is planning to shrink down the size of land by about 400 hectares which would result an average of 0.66 hectare to each FWB.
“DAR is trying to kill us by reducing the land that should be distributed to us. The small parcel of land they are proposing would certainly put is in deep poverty and hunger. It is another way of saying for us to give up our rights to land and surrender it to the Cojuangco-Aquino family,” Sibayan added.
Sibayan said that Ambala, who is the legitimate organization of the FWBs, who struggled for many years and fought hard at the Supreme Court, was left aside by DAR when they surveyed the land. Thus, the farm workers believed that the surveying was undemocratic and favoring the Cojuangco-Aquino family. Ambala is also criticizing DAR for imposing the promissory note which they claim is illegal as there is no provision in Republic Act 9700 or CARPer, and the Supreme Court orders nothing of its kind. The promissory note obliges the farm workers to amortize the land, when it should be distributed free to the FWBs.
In addition, Amgl and Ambala said that the Aquino government is exposing itself to the ongoing International Solidarity Mission joined by foreign delegates from the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (ICHRPP) who visited Hacienda Luisita. The farm workers hoped that the oppression and exploitation by the Cojuangco-Aquino family would be reported to the international community.
“Aquino is a total loser as he pushes with these schemes though the SONA is nearing. He is evidently anti-farmer and anti-poor. We call on other sectors to support us against the schemes of DAR and Aquino, as well as the Cojuangco-Aquino family,” Sibayan said.
Ambala affirmed that the lands of Hacienda Luisita should be distributed free to the farm workers and collective ownership must be upheld. They are intensely pushing with the “bungkalan” campaign where lands are freely cultivated by the farm workers.
Amgl and Ambala are planning to question DAR’s plan at the Supreme Court. They would motion DAR for contempt and to explain its methods as they evidently violate the decision of the high court. The motion would also include to force DAR to disclose the results of surveying of the land and for it to be verified; and the immediate termination of allocation of land through raffle.
“Aquino should be held responsible for this mix-up. He is obviously controlling DAR and serving the interest of his family. He has no moral entitlement to lead the country when he is clearly undemocratic and serving the interest of the few rich like the Cojuangco-Aquino family. We appeal other sectors to support us in our struggle against the Cojuanco-Aquino’s primitive control of the land; and for genuine land reform and social justice,” Sibayan ended.