ANGELES CITY- The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) was slated last Sunday, the eve of Pres. Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), to reportedly destroy a cooperative farm in a part of Hacienda Luisita being claimed by his family.
This, even as the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), where presidential sister and entertainment celebrity Kris Aquino reportedly still sits as director, “has been actively contesting (land reform) coverage of hundreds of hectares of lands being claimed by the hacienda farmworkers.”
“In December 2013, the DAR did issue a belated notice of land reform coverage (NOC) for some 358 hectares in two Luisita villages, but this NOC did not stop the Cojuangco-Aquino family from evicting farmers, bulldozing ready-to-harvest palay, and slapping trumped-up charges against hundreds of tillers.
A full company of the 3rd Mechanized Battalion is even stationed within a 250-hectare area claimed by Tarlac Development Corp. (Tadeco) owned by the President’s family.” These were among the observations of the Unyon ng Mangagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) in time for Monday’s SONA of the President.
“Unknown to the public – principally to most of the 52 survivors and relatives of victims who filed the complaints – criminal charges against perpetrators of the 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre were dismissed in 2010, during the very first year of Aquino’s presidency,” UMA also noted.
It also observed that “today, more human rights violations are piling up in Hacienda Luisita. A farmer leader was murdered last November. Burning of farm huts and homes, destruction of crops, and looting of farm animals and tools have become common occurrence.
Farmers are mauled, seriously injured, nabbed and detained in series of incidents involving private security men, police and the military.”
UMA also accused the President of “hiding” over 1,000 hectares of lands so as they could not be covered by land reform which in 2012 was ordered by the Supreme Court to be implemented in the estate owned by the Cojuangco-Aquinos.
The group noted that when the stock distribution option (SDO) was implemented in the hacienda under the administration of Pres. Corazon Aquino in 1989, only 4,915 hectares out of 6,453 hectares were declared agricultural.
“These hidden agricultural lands have actually resurfaced around the same period as last year’s SONA – and have since been fenced and heavily-guarded by armed private personnel, police and military units beholden to yellow corporations like Tadeco, Luisita Realty Corporation (LRC) and the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT),” UMA reported.
In the 2013 SONA, Aquino also promised that his administration would issue NOCs for all land reform landholdings all over the country by 2014. “However, no other NOCs have so far been issued even for landholdings under Cojuangco firms in Luisita.
Today, thousands of the so-called “beneficiaries” have been dislocated, or are under threat of wholesale disqualification. The DAR’s chaotic lot allocation process cunningly complemented the rampant aryendo or lease system and buyback offers unleashed by yellow financier-agents,” UMA also said.
UMA also observed that “even the DAR has been directly involved in evicting tillers and destroying crops using government equipment and resources. Incidents last June 25, July 3 and 8 have resulted in the destruction of a farm hut and around 50 hectares of productive palay and organic food crop farms cultivated under the hacienda farmworker’s bungkalan farming scheme.”
“Another questionable eviction notice was issued farmers only last week, stating that a cooperative farm hut will be destroyed by the DAR on July 27, a Sunday – a day before the President’s SONA,” UMA also said.