MANILA, Philippines – Several members of progressive groups, including a party-list representative, were arrested in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac early Tuesday, September 17, according to Anakpawis president Rafael Mariano.
Land reform advocates led by Anakpawis Rep Fernando Hicap were at the hacienda for a fact-finding mission on the “lottery land reform” system, when they were arrested at Barangay Balete by Tarlac police just before noon.
The group has just left a dialogue with the Philippine Army, Mariano added.
Among those arrested were Florida Sibayan of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), fellow Anakpawis member Danilo Ramos, Sister Patricia Fox, Ericson Acosta, Kerima Acosta, and several others, Mariano said.
They were in the area to investigate the alleged irregularities in the distribution of Lot Allocation Certificates (LACs) to the farmer-beneficiaries in the villages that are part of the hacienda.
From July 18 to August 21, there were reports of alleged harrasment, fraud, and land grabbing affecting the farmer-beneficiaries.
Mariano said this showed the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is not properly implementing the distribution of land in the hacienda, owned by the family of President Benigno Aquino III. (Aquino divested his shares in the estate before he took office in 2010.)
Distribution via raffle
Mariano, also a former representative for Anakpawis, said they were charged with trespassing, direct assault, malicious mischief, and illegal assembly.
The distribution of land to the 647 qualified farmer-beneficiaries started last July 18.
Around 4,000 hectares out of the sugar estate’s total of 6,000 hectares are for distribution.
DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said in February that the master list was finalized based on the Supreme Court directive 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 distribution of the LACs were being done through a raffle: The names of the farmer-beneficiaries are drawn via a raffle, which determines the location of the plot of land they will own.– Rappler.com
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