After “sakada” issue, Hacienda Luisita farmworkers’ huts demolished

Huts or kubol used as headquarters of the local farmworkers’ organization Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang-Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) in Barangay Mapalacsiao, Hacienda Luisita were reportedly demolished around noon today. Monggo crops were also reportedly destroyed. The huts are located within AMBALA’s bungkalan or land cultivation area in Barangay Mapalacsiao, the same village where […]

via After “sakada” issue, Hacienda Luisita farmworkers’ huts demolished — UMA Pilipinas

Luisita farmers deprived of food, income

On the average, a hectare of land yields 100 cavans of rice. The 53 hectares of land destroyed could have produced 5,300 cavans of rice per harvest season or 10,600 cavans for one year. A cavan is equivalent to 50 kilos.

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – In just a minute, 12 banana trees were razed to the ground. A blue tractor then ran over the newly planted chili and peanut plants in sitio Maligaya, Mapalacsiao village inside the Hacienda Luisita, July 8.

Farmers Rebecca Santos, Neng Pineda, Teresita Ocampo and Reynaldo Ocampo attempted to defend the 9.1-hectare land they have cultivated for the past nine years. Their efforts proved futile as fully-armed policemen and personnel from the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO) led by lawyer Jose Eduardo Narciso facilitated the destruction of their crops.

The incident is the latest of a series of bulldozing activities targeting agricultural lands inside the hacienda that began in December 2013. Almost 53 hectares of land planted to palay, vegetables and fruit trees – a part of the tillage campaign of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) since 2005 — have already been destroyed.

Supporters of the Ambala’s tillage campaign condemned what they called as “attacks against the Hacienda Luisita farmers.”

Alfredo G. dela Mines, organic farming specialist of the Ecotech Masipag, told Bulatlat.com in a phone interview, “This is a clear case of transgression. The farmers are the owners of the land. Why would they harass the farmers?”

Dela Mines, who has been providing free trainings to Hacienda Luisita farmers since June last year, cited the Supreme Court April 24, 2012 decision ordering the distribution of Hacienda Luisita land to the farmworker-beneficiaries.

The demo farms Dela Mines helped cultivate in the villages of Balete and Mapalacsiao were among those destroyed.

Another supporter, Fr. Jesse Dumaual, MSC, told Bulatlat.com he is saddened by the recent developments in Hacienda Luisita.

Like Dela Mines, the Catholic priest also provided trainings on organic farming and sustainable agriculture since February 2013. With the help of Catholic churches and some foundations, the priest was able to donate machineries, seedlings, inputs, fuel and other materials to Hacienda Luisita farmers amounting to P400,000.

Potential food supplier

Both Dela Mines and Dumaual recognized the potential of Hacienda Luisita for agricultural production.

On the average, a hectare of land yields 100 cavans of rice. The 53 hectares of land destroyed could have produced 5,300 cavans of rice per harvest season or 10,600 cavans for one year. A cavan is equivalent to 50 kilos.

Dumaual said marketing would not be problem. Even before harvest season, the priest said there were some church institutions that pledged to buy organic rice from Hacienda Luisita farmers.

Dela Mines said if thousands of hectares of land would be devoted to vegetable production, Hacienda Luisita farmers could supply vegetables to Metro Manila.

Dela Mines who has been teaching organic farming since 1998 said a hectare of land planted with bitter gourd or ampalaya could earn P1 million in one year. He said that in four months, a farmer could harvest ampalaya for 15 to 20 times. In one cropping, farmers could earn P500,000 per hectare.

The pilot farm that Dela Mines supervised in Balete village had ampalaya, string beans, eggplant, tomatoes and other vegetables. It was destroyed by the security guards of the Tarlac Development Corporation (Tadeco) before Christmas last year.

Tadeco, a corporation owned by the clan of President Benigno Aquino III, is claiming ownership of thousands of hectares of land in Hacienda Luisita after the high court issued its historic ruling.

Fr. Dumaual noted that the agricultural lands destroyed in Balete village are part of the notice of coverage issued by DAR.

“Hacienda Luisita is a prime agricultural land,” Fr. Dumaual said. “It would be such a waste if the land would be converted to commercial and industrial use.”

Better than sugarcane

Dela Mines said rice and vegetable production would yield more income than sugarcane.

At the maximum, a hectare of sugarcane could earn P100,000 as opposed to P1 million per hectare for vegetables, Dela Mines said. He added that the five years of income from sugarcane could be earned in just one year from vegetables.

Dela Mines said the sugar block farming being promoted by the DAR in Hacienda Luisita is tantamount to “dictating what farmers should plant.”

“The sugar block farming being pushed by the Department of Agrarian Reform would benefit the sugar mill of the Cojuangco-Aquinos,” Dela Mines said. The Ambala also revealed that “sugarcane financiers” – who are mainly friends and dummies of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan – have leased thousands of hectares of land from farmworker-beneficiaries.

DAR should listen

Fr. Dumaual attributed the disputes among the farmers to the raffle system of land distribution implemented by the DAR.

“DAR should listen to the farmers,” the priest said. He said the DAR should have allowed farmers who have cultivated the land since 2005 to stay where their farms are located.

Both supporters have called on Hacienda Luisita farmers to defend their tillage campaign.

“We are always starting from scratch,” Fr. Dumaual said. After the destruction of some land, they would proceed to another. “But it’s okay, as long as the farmers are willing to till, we will support them.”

luisita-bungkalan

This pilot farm in Balete village was destroyed by the security guards of the Cojuangco-owned Tarlac Development Corporation (Tadeco) in December 2013. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / Bulatlat.com)

Support Luisita farmers: Organic Munggo for a Cause

munggo

Luisita Watch is raising funds for AMBALA’s bungkalan (land cultivation project), legal expenses and Apong Ben Duque’s hospital bills. Pledge your donations or buy Luisita farmworkers’ organic munggo for a minimum of Php 100 for a half kilo pack. Send us a personal message via facebook or twitter, email luisitawatch@gmail.com or contact us at (02) 799.2009 for inquiries and orders.

Click the links to know more about human rights violations against Hacienda Luisita farmworkers’ and their legal battle.

apongben

HELP APONG BEN.

Bernardo “Apong Ben” Duque of Barangay Cutcut, Hacienda Luisita sustained spinal fractures due to a vehicular accident on their way to the Labor Day March in Tarlac City last May 1st.

The local farmworkers organization AMBALA is still trying to raise funds for Apong Ben’s hospitalization at the Jecsons Hospital in Tarlac City. The running hospital bill is now at Php 161,682.95  as of May 12, 2014. AMBALA still needs to raise more than half of this amount.