Malacañang spokesperson Abigail Valte recently announced that President Aquino is hoping that tension in Hacienda Luisita does not escalate. The announcement, as expected, failed to mention that the continuing agrarian unrest in the said Tarlac estate has generally been engendered by the bogus land distribution efforts of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), which has once again proven the bogus nature of the CARPER.
Malacañang likewise has consistently kept mum as regards the aggressive and oftentimes violent means by which the powerful Cojuangco-Aquino family, to which the President himself belongs, has been employing against Luisita farmworkers in staking claim over at least 1000 hectares of agricultural land in the area.
Just this 7 and 8 March, the Cojuangco-Aquino owned Tarlac Development Corp. (TADECO) tried to bulldoze 214 hectares of land in barangays (villages) Mapalacsiao and Central with the aid of Philippine National Police personnel.
The Mapalacsiao and Central lands are apart from the 358 hectares that have been issued a Notice of Coverage (NOC) by the DAR in barangays Balete and Cutcut on 17 December 2013. Despite the DAR’s NOC, the Balete lands have already been completely bulldozed and fenced off by TADECO, leaving scores of farm workers without any means of livelihood. The same farm workers are now also facing various trumped-up charges lodged against them by both the police and TADECO.
Aside from these lands, it is estimated that TADECO has still at least 700 hectares of agricultural lands under its control which the DAR has failed to include for land distribution.
At present, the Presidential uncle, Peping Cojuangco himself, is vigorously conducting a petition in the ten barrios of Hacienda Luisita, openly opposing any effort to cover the said lands for land distribution. Cojuangco is also trying to deceptively bribe the farm workers with the prospect of being compensated from the P1.33 billion standing debt of Hacienda Luisita Inc. in exchange for surrendering their call for land distribution.
There is no sign meanwhile that the DAR will seriously implement land distribution in the said areas notwithstanding the NOC that it has earlier issued for the lands in barangays Balete and Cutcut. The DAR also has no intention of recognizing that 216 farm workers have already been tilling the lands there since 2005. This was also the attitude of DAR when it implemented the Lot Application Certificate (LAC) through raffle starting July last year. In essence, DAR is purposely creating friction among those who are already tilling the lands since 2005 by designating other beneficiaries to these lands.
Tension in the Hacienda will not cease unless genuine land distribution is implemented. Lands should be distributed for free to those who have been tilling in the area since 2005. All the security guards and military personnel inside the Hacienda should also be pulled out, and all those who ordered and carried out the violent eviction of farm workers on 21 December 2013, and various other suceeding incidents should be prosecuted and punished.
UMA Media Officer:
Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura
(Agricultural Workers Union)
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