The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is peddling yet another lie when it recently announced that “great opportunities” await the farmers of Hacienda Luisita because of sugar block farming. On the contrary, the scheme that the DAR is promoting will only ensure the profitability of the Cojuangco-Aquino-owned Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT), at the expense of thousands of Luisita farm workers.
Sugar block farming, in essence, is the official structural complement of the illicit and unjust aryendo system now prevalent in Hacienda Luisita. Behind the much-hyped land distribution of the Luisita estate is in fact a cunning and predatory scheme which perpetuates the hacendero control of the Cojuangco-Aquinos over thousands of hectares of agricultural lands.
Block farming allows a “farm manager” to control 30 to 60 hectares of individually-titled farmlots. So-called farmer beneficiaries would have to place their lots as their share in a block. After the DAR’s sham land distribution, farmers whose lots would be included in a block farm would just be hired as the slaving farmworkers that they were for decades, and will split “profits,” if any, with Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organization (ARBO) officers and financiers – an organization that will essentially serve the same function as the Cojuangco-Aquino’s’ Luisita Estate Management group.
This new corporative scheme essentially maintains feudal and semi-feudal relations and will re-concentrate lands back to the landlords’ control. Farmers will have practically no control over their lots in a block farm and will lose their right to till.
The most glaring manifestation of this fraudulent government scheme is the designation of Arsenio Valentino – a known Cojuangco-Aquino sugar supervisor under the Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI ) — as head of one of the DAR’s so-called ARBO or beneficiaries’ organization. Valentino is another pillar of the Cojuangco’s aryendo system in Luisita along with Presidential “Kabarilan” and ex-LTO Chief Virgie Torres and Rep. Noel Villanueva .
Portion of a copy of a lease agreement pushed by Cojuangco “aryendadors” to victimize and discredit Luisita farmworker-beneficiaries.
Government policy and “priorities” under the BS Aquino hacendero administration and the DAR’s sham land distribution activities have consistently complemented aggressive Cojuangco-Aquino landgrabbing and harrasment in Hacienda Luisita resulting to the loss of livelihood and disenfranchisement of thousands of supposed farmworker-beneficiaries.
Sugar block farming is another pro-landlord system very much similar in essence to the bankrupt Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme implemented by the first Cojuangco-Aquino president, which had already been revoked by the Supreme Court and which Luisita farm workers had fought against for years in a bloody struggle.
WILL PNOY FAVOR KIN, SEAL FARMERS’ EVICTION IN LUISITA PEZA BID?
President Aquino’s certification as urgent the bill extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) for another two years is hypocritical as exemplified by another development in his kin’s Hacienda Luisita.
On February 13, 2014 the board of the Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA) approved the application of the Cojuangco-Aquino-owned Luisita Realty Corporation (LRC) to proclaim some 258 hectares of Hacienda Luisita lands as a Special Economic Zone. By all indication, the President is likely to finalize the proclamation as soon as LRC furnishes PEZA with the required documents, such as the endorsement of the Tarlac City Council, a DAR Conversion Clearance Certificate, and a Proof of Land Ownership.
But the supposed subject lands are are the very same properties belonging to another Cojuangco-Aquino company, Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) which had already been issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) with a Notice of Coverage (NOC) in December 17, 2013.
Given the right pressure and substantial bribes, it would be easy for LRC or TADECO to get the required documents especially from the DAR, which implemented the bogus land reform in the Hacienda. Recently the DAR had even rejected the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid’s (AMBALA) petition for a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) against TADECO which had fenced off the said lands after evicting hundreds of farmers in the area via bulldozer and arson.
DAR even acknowledged that it can act favorably on the protest made by the Cojuangco Company on the NOC order or even issue out a Conversion Order. This would pave the way for PEZA to endorse the said project to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary for subsequent endorsement to the President for the issuance of the proclamation.
Clearly, the President would issue out the proclamation during his remaining term in office. This would further make a mockery of the bogus CARP which the President wants extended and is hypocritical to say the least.
The proponents of another couple of years of CARP extension are arguing that the DAR should be given more time to issue NOCs. The experiences of Hacienda Luisita farmers and those from other parts of the vast Philippine countryside have proven that NOCs and other DAR practices under CARP are mere token processes that do not at all fulfill the requirements of genuine land reform.
In rejecting AMBALA’s petition for a CDO against TADECO, DAR categorically stated that “the issuance of an NOC does not contemplate the actual taking of property for purposes of the land acquisition and distribution under the CARP. Rather the issuance of an NOC only commences the process of acquisition of private agricultural lands under the CARP which must always be subject to corresponding statutory rights, if any of the affected landowners, i.e. right to protest coverage, right to exercise retention, or to receive just compensation, among others.”