Hacienda Luisita farm workers under the alliance AMBALA said that President Aquino can never invoke “good faith” in the implementation of the highly-anomalous Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP as government resouces – possibly millions more in public funds are being continuously used by the Aquino administration to protect Cojuangco-Aquino interests in Hacienda Luisita.
President BS Aquino is scheduled to address the nation on the DAP in a televised broadcast later this evening but “Luisita farmers are sick of Aquino’s lies. Land distribution in Hacienda Luisita is a monumental sham and total failure thanks to the Pork Barrel King’s DAP and this regime’s deliberate wastage of people’s taxes just so his family can retain control of Hacienda Luisita,” said Florida Sibayan, AMBALA Chairperson.
In 2012, the Supreme Court (SC) under then Chief Justice Renato Corona released a final and executory decision to implement land distribution in Hacienda Luisita. According to reports, billions of pesos from the DAP were used by Aquino to bribe legilators to impeach and convict Corona, as retribution for the landmark Luisita ruling.
“The Cojuangco-Aquinos are using power and influence to sabotage the SC decision. All government agencies such as the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the military, police, and local courts in Tarlac are directly taking orders from the Cojuangcos to coerce and disenfranchise supposed land reform beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita,” said Sibayan.
Aside from the DAP, a new disbursement mechanism by the Aquino-Abad tandem is now believed to be actively used to fund the Cojuangco-Aquino’s illicit sugarcane aryendo (lease agreement) victimizing thousands of Luisita beneficiaries in the guise of “land reform support services” such as block-farming.
Under the 2013 Grassroots Participatory Budgeting (GPB) program, otherwise known as Bottom-Up Budgeting (BuB), Php 476 million was released to the DAR for agrarian reform beneficiaries’ support services.
Sibayan said that loyal Cojuangco agents such as Arsenio Valentino, a former supervisor of the Hacienda Luisita, Inc (HLI) now head the DAR’s Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries organizations (ARBO) and can easily access these “support service funds.” The funds are used to entice cash-strapped farmer beneficiaries to enter unfair lease agreements known as the “aryendo,” which will lead to the wholesale disqualification of beneficiaries and the reconcentration of the sugar estate back to Cojuangco-Aquino control.
“The DAR says that they need enough proof to stop the ‘aryendo’ in Hacienda Luisita, but the most notorious of aryendadors are currently in their employ. We will not be surprised if the DAR takes action on the aryendo – not to pin down these Cojuangco agents – but to lay the blame on the thousands of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers which they have systematically swindled and disenfranchised through consistent deception, violence and coercion. Puro panloloko, pandarahas at pangangamkam,” said Sibayan.
Sibayan also lamented that since June 25, DAR and PNP personnel using government-owned tractors are now directly involved in the ruthless destruction of crops and productive organic farms in Barangay Mapalacsiao, Hacienda Luisita to make way for the replanting of sugarcane by another Cojuangco-Aquino agent, ex-LTO Chief Virgie Torres, a known ally and Kabarilan of President BS Aquino.
“While Aquino coddles and grants special treatment to pork plunderers, hundreds of Luisita farmers have been subjected to police brutality and harassment suits. Under this landlord president, I have been mauled by police several times, imprisoned at least three times while facing numerous trumped-up charges because of defending farmworkers’ rights to our land,” said Sibayan.
A fact-finding mission report released by the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) in as early as November last year already pointed out other glaring anomalies in the DAR’s land distribution process in Hacienda Luisita, such as the granting to the Cojuangco-Aquinos of “just compensation” overpriced by at least Php 167 million pesos and the anomalous land survey of Hacienda Luisita by the FF Cruz firm, which concerned DAR employees exposed to be overpriced by at least Php 9 million.
UMA also pointed out that the highly-irregular deployment of the state’s armed police personnel, SWAT teams and elite military battalions serve to coerce farmworker-beneficiaries into signing promissory notes, and in the subsequent violent eviction of farmers from hundreds of hectares of agricultural land declared by the Cojuangcos as their “private property” in Hacienda Luisita.
“The DAR enjoyed maximum logistical support and media mileage for Aquino’s land reform which has indeed been quite expeditious – expeditiously bogus,” UMA said in the report.
The report concluded that “institutionalized corruption and state terror has made genuine land reform a distant reality for the thousands of farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita and for the million of farmers and tillers all over the country.”
“The DAR has been exposed as a ‘pork clearing house’ for corrupt politicians and fake NGOs to partake of lump sum public fund allocations. Under CARP, the DAR has merely served as a legal conduit for the blatant misuse of public funds for ineffective land reform schemes and as milking-cow of landlord families entitled to ‘just compensation.”
“President Aquino himself has allocated billions of pesos from his unconstitutional DAP for landlord compensation and for alleged bribery to secure the impeachment of Chief Justice Corona after the SC promulgated its final and executory decision in Hacienda Luisita,” said UMA in the 2013 report.
Luisita farmers have expressed their solid support to oust President BS Aquino, and will join the people’s protests when the President delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 28.