ANGELES CITY – Armed soldiers from the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion (3rd Mech) of the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) have recently put up barbed wire fences and guard towers, and bulldozed crops planted
by protesting farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.
The Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL), Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Tarlak (AMT) and
the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) blamed the Tarlac Development Corp. (Tadeco) for these developments.
Tadeco, a firm owned by Pres. Aquino’s family, has claimed that the 500-hectare site in Barangay Balete in the
hacienda was not covered by land reform as implemented recently by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
But farm workers from Ambala implemented there a farming scheme called “bungkalan” to assert their rights over the area. AMGL Chair Joseph Canlas said that Tadeco has used infl uence to exempt the 500-hectare site from land reform amid expectations that land value in the area would increase significantly, as it did in areas traversed by the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) and the recently opened Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx).
“Agricultural lands in Tarlac range from P1.3 million to P5 to P6 million per hectare. The price of lands in Hacienda Luisita surrounded by MacArthur Highway, SCTEx and TPLEx are defi nitely expected to jack up even more,” he noted.
Canlas said the 500 hectares being claimed by Tadeco would eventually cost from P650 million to P3 billion.
Tadeco personnel, he noted, recently bulldozed some 10 hectares of crops planted by farmworkers in the 500-hectare site where soldiers from 3rd Mech of the Nolcom have remained deployed. “We have expected this
kind of abuse years before the Supreme Court ordered the distribution of Hacienda Luisita lands.
The Cojuangco-Aquino family has no plan of giving up the lands they want to further profi t from by selling them to businesses while government forces serve as their private security guards to keep off protests of farm workers,” Canlas said.
Ambala and other farmers’ groups have insisted that the entire hacienda subject to land reform should cover
6,212 hectares, but only 4,099 hectares were covered. They also said some benefi ciaries listed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) were not qualified.
They claimed that the DAR’s method of distributing the lands via raffle was “illegal and illegitimate” and that the legitimate beneficiaries were “coerced to sign an application to purchase and farmers’ undertaking (APFU) agreement which criminalized the failure to pay amortization to the Cojuangcos for the lands they got.”