MANILA, Philippines – Almost 3 decades since the agrarian reform law was passed, farmers of Hacienda Luisita – the sugar estate of President Benigno Aquino III’s family – finally started receiving their share of land on Thursday, July 18.
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) distributed the first batch of lot allocation certificates at Barangay Cutcut in Tarlac City. Of the 646 qualified farmers from Barangay Cutcut, 340 jumpstarted the process of possessing their land.
Other barangays still waiting for their turn include Bantog, Balete, Asturias, Lourdes, and Mapalacsiao in Tarlac City; Parang, Pando and Mabilog in Concepcion; and Motrico in La Paz.
Some 4,000 hectares of the 6,000-hectare sugar estate will be distributed to recipients.
The final list of farmer-beneficiaries number 6,212, spanning 10 barangays.
In February, DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said the master list was finalized based on the directive of the Supreme Court that only those who were working in the sugar plantation under Luisita Tarlac Development Corp in 1989 could be considered beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
The process of the distribution is as follows: DAR picks from a raffle drum the names of farmer-beneficiaries. Upon the selection of their names, they are given their Lot Allocation Certificate (LAC), which determines the location of their land. They are then told their rights and obligations to their newly-acquired land.
Beneficiaries are then asked to sign an Application to Purchase and Farmers’ Undertaking (APFU), which they need to register their Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA), which in turn serves as their land title.
DAR was aiming to complete the distribution of the land titles in June, but the agency’s new goal is August 21 this year, incidentally the death anniversary of President Aquino’s father.
Hacienda Luisita belongs to the family of President Aquino’s mother. The Cojuangco clan, since the presidency of her mother Corazon, has successfully dodged government efforts to place the estate under the agrarian reform program. President Aquino divested his shares in the estate in 2010.
It has been the subject of a bitter legal dispute. But in a historic ruling finalized on April 24 this year, the Supreme Court awarded about 4,000 hectares of the hacienda to farmers.
Hacienda Luisista has since been the most famous case study for land reform in the country. – Rappler.com
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