DAR vows no dummies on list of Luisita tillersBy TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
To allay fears that the list of beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita will be padded with “dummies of the Cojuangco clan,” Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes on Saturday promised the farmers full transparency in the verification and distribution processes.
De los Reyes said a preliminary list of land reform beneficiaries of the huge sugar plantation owned by relatives of President Benigno Aquino III will be made public and the farmers could question the inclusion or exclusion of any name there.
He also said that “all the proceedings in the identification, screening and validation of potential beneficiaries” were open to the public “in the interest of transparency.”
De los Reyes said the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) would be ready to post the list of beneficiaries by the second week of August or sometime in September.
“Even the preliminary master list will be made available to the public so that interested parties, particularly farmers’ groups and civil society groups, may scrutinize the list,” he said in a statement.
He said in an earlier interview that the list would be posted on tarpaulins in the estate’s barangays.
According to the DAR’s Management Information System, some 8,482 farmworkers had been interviewed and screened as of June 29.
“Interviewing is no guarantee all of them are getting lots,” he said.
Members of the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas held a vigil on Chino Roces Bridge near Malacañang last Thursday to press for the release of the original list of farmworkers.
They alleged that the DAR’s “questionable verification process” was part of the Cojuangcos’ scheme to bloat the number of beneficiaries, slash the size of the land for distribution, sow confusion among the farmers, and put their dummies on the list.
The DAR kicked off the process with an information campaign in Luisita’s 10 barangays on May 18 soon after receiving the final decision of the Supreme Court ordering the distribution of the remaining 4,300 hectares of the plantation to 6,296 farmers.
De los Reyes said the preliminary master list would still be subjected to an inclusion-exclusion process, in which the farmers may appeal to be included or request the exclusion of other workers.
He admitted that this stage could be the most contentious since potential beneficiaries could be stricken off the list.