#StoryoftheNation: State of Hacienda Luisita
MANILA, Philippines – In a historic final ruling in 2013, the Supreme Court awarded to farmer beneficiaries about 4,000 hectares of the Hacienda Luisita, the landholdings owned by President Benigno Aquino III's family.
However, as Aquino delivers his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 27, many farmers continue to condemn the land title distribution as a hoax.
"Like his mother Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, President Aquino promised social justice and land reform in Hacienda Luisita as part of his electoral campaign. But Aquino’s actions speak differently," according to Luisita Watch, a group of individuals and organizations advocating the cause of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers.
"Puro panloloko, pandarahas, at pangangamkam ng lupa (It's all deception, violence, and landgrabbing)," the group said in a fact sheet it recently presented at the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Mass Communication.
Farmers of the vast agricultural land condemned anew the alleged harassment and other human rights violations committed against them by TADECO over the years.
The alleged violations in Hacienda Luisita were presented by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) during the recently concluded International People’s Tribunal (IPT) held in Washington DC, where Aquino was found "guilty of gross and systematic violations of human rights."
Alleged violations Incidents Victims Extrajudicial killing 1 1 Frustrated extrajudicial killing 3 6 Torture/Mauling 9 30+ Illegal arrest and detention 9 28 Trumped up charges 22 189
The Luisita Watch cited the following reasons the land distribution has not been effectively implemented :
- Lot allocation through lottery worked to reconcentrate the land back to the landlords
- The exclusion of a number of bona fide farm workers in the final master list of beneficiaries, and the underhanded insertion of names of unqualified ones
- The imposition of compulsory signing of promissory notes (Application to Purchase and Farmers Undertaking) to ensure amortization payments
- The grant of overpriced landlord compensation to Hacienda Luisita Inc (HLI) – about P471.5 million – reportedly coursed through the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)
- The facilitation of the audit of P1.33 billion in assets that HLI and Centenary Holdings acquired from the sale of agricultural land
- The inaction on farmworkers’ appeal for the revocation of a conversion order covering 500 hectares. A solar power public-private partnership (PPP) project is now in place between the Department of Energy and PetroGreen, a firm owned by the Yuchengcos of Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation. RCBC is HLI’s successor-in-interest in the disputed property.
- The deceit and coercion of beneficiaries through false statements and excessive use of armed state forces during the so-called distribution process
- The exclusion of hundreds of hectares of agricultural land from distribution, causing confusion, dispute, and dislocation
Luisita farmworkers joined other farmers who protested during Aquino's last SONA. (READ: Farmers protest delay in land distribution under Aquino)
Hacienda Luisita is the most famous case study of the state of the country's land reform. The country's rich families maintain control over 107,639 landholdings, including the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita.
As of August 2014, more than 700,000 hectares of agricultural land have yet to be awarded to farmer beneficiaries across the country, according to government data. In 2012, the Aquino administration promised to complete land distribution by 2014. – Rappler.com
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