Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes on Thursday challenged critics to name names and formally file their objections against the purported inclusion of horse stable hands and house helpers of President Aquino’s relatives in the preliminary list of Hacienda Luisita beneficiaries.
“That’s precisely the point why we released the preliminary list, so we can entertain protests about people who should be excluded or included from the list,” Delos Reyes told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone.
Delos Reyes dared the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) to give the
Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) the names of the people they claimed were working
for the Cojuangco relatives of Mr. Aquino.
He said the militant farmers “are creating ghosts but they’re not prepared to show proof.”
In its statement on Wednesday, the KMP did not provide names nor produce evidence to back up its claim, saying it was only based on a “deeper scrutiny” by two groups representing Hacienda Luisita farmers.
On Oct. 31, the DAR issued a preliminary list of 5,365 farm workers who will receive parcels of agricultural land from Hacienda Luisita, the country’s biggest sugar estate owned by Mr. Aquino’s family.
Another set of 1,221 farm workers, on the other hand, were placed under a provisional list due to deficiencies in documentary evidence to prove the validity of their claim.
The KMP alleged, however, that some dubious names, such as the Cojuangco workers, were added to the preliminary list while many legitimate farm workers were placed in the
Delos Reyes said that since the release of the preliminary list, many claimants have appeared before the DAR to seek inclusion in the list, but nobody has yet filed for the exclusion of people they believe should not have been listed.
The DAR will continue the inclusion-exclusion process until the end of November. Delos Reyes said the final list will likely be released in the first quarter of 2013.
In 1988, when the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program took effect, Hacienda Luisita offered an option to own shares of stock instead of land to the farmers, sparking a long court battle.
In May, the Supreme Court upheld with finality the decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council in 2005 to scrap the stock distribution option and to order the distribution of 4,915 hectares of Hacienda Luisita to 6,296 farm workers.
Since then, the DAR has sought to verify two lists of farm workers who are supposed to receive land based on that decision.