Rise above your class, coalition urges Aquino

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President Benigno Aquino III FILE PHOTO

Coalition of small farmers, church workers, civil society members, and government employees is urging President Aquino to “rise above his class” and put agrarian reform in the forefront of the national agenda.

The group, an alliance of more than 20 organizations, expressed its growing disillusionment with Mr. Aquino’s apparent lack of interest in nurturing agrarian reform as a key measure toward addressing rural poverty.

Some of the leaders attributed this lack of sympathy toward the plight of the landless to Mr. Aquino’s status as “the son of a haciendero and a member of the elite.”

Mr. Aquino has inherited a share of the vast Hacienda Luisita sugar estate in Tarlac through his mother, the late President Corazon Cojuangco.

“His social contract with the Filipino people calls on him to rise above his class interests,” according to the alliance that includes the Negros Occidental-based Task Force Mapalad (TFM), Save Agrarian Reform Alliance and the Department of Agrarian Reform Employees Association.

Lawyer Christian Monsod, coconvenor of Sulong Carper (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms), noted that it took Mr. Aquino two years after taking office to personally meet with the farmers and directly address the issue of land reform.

That was in June last year when the President promised the TFM farmers who had marched to Malacañang that he would complete the agrarian reform program his mother had begun in 1988.

Monsod said there were suspicions among the members of the agrarian reform community that Mr. Aquino had no intention of pursuing land reform precisely because his sympathies lay with the landowners.

Jaime Tadeo, chairman of the Pagkakaisa para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Kaunlarang Pangkanayunan, said Mr. Aquino was following the example of his mother in trying to “save” Hacienda Luisita from agrarian reform coverage.

“(Mr. Aquino) was born in the womb of Hacienda Lusitia… He was the manager of Hacienda Luisita before he became a congressman, a senator and now president,” he said.

In 1988, when the Carp took effect, the Hacienda Luisita management gave the farmers the  option to own shares of stock instead of land—the so-called stock distribution option (SDO)—in what was seen as an attempt to circumvent the agrarian reform law.

After a prolonged court battle, the Supreme Court last May upheld with finality the decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council in 2005 to scrap the SDO scheme of Hacienda Luisita.

The high court ordered the distribution of 4,915 hectares of the estate to 6,296 farm workers.

Tadeo, however, said the impending abolition of the DAR after the expiration of Carp in 2014 could effectively hinder the distribution of Hacienda Luisita land.

He cited a June 2012 letter from Budget Secretary Florencio Abad that reportedly talks of a transition plan for the DAR, scaling down personnel services and shifting them to the Department of Agriculture.

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  • kunsabagay

    Its  a huge challenge for Pnoy, being born into oligarchy

  • Paulstronghold

    Our country is blessed with  superiority of  vast agricultural lands where every inch is almost arable, fertile fishing ground and  rich in mineral resources. We are also endowed with almost a perfect weather condition where farmers can plant at any season of the year. I can plainly say we are one of the richest countries in the world in terms of natural resources. 

    What else can we ask for except  sustainable support from the government. Of course, with  climate change taking place in the country eroding some of its “ready -to-harvest” agricultural end-products brought about by typhoons and other calamities, this government at all cost,  must protect its agricultural by-products by constructing more dikes, good roads to market place, and help lower the cost of fertilizers and other key elements in agricultural development..

    I guess, the issue of Hacienda Luisita and other social/political agenda clamored by these left-leanings group is just a small “dot” compared to a much wider scope of the “whole sheet of clean white paper.”

    • buttones

      Not quite true- only about 39% of our land is arable about the same as Thailand, and because of our population this is about 0.06 hectares per capita. It gets less with urban development and population as you can imagine. We practice subsistence farming, most farmers do not own the land they till, it is not intensive, it is not mechanized, we have 1.1 tractors for every 1000 hectares of arable land. [Thailand has 12] The benefit we have is cheap labor. Overuse of nitrates on the land, cheap or not, ends up in the lakes and rivers and the sea, it encourages algae, it contaminates the breeding grounds, it reduces sunlight in the waters.

      Neither do we figure in the top 15 countries when it comes to natural resources, we have no timber for a start, the mineral resources we have clearly give no benefit to the vast majority of Filipinos, and certainly our gold we only benefit 10% from as the 90% is actually smuggled out of the country.

      On fishing, well there are no statistics on how fertile our grounds are, our breeding grounds such as mangrove and reef are being destroyed, as we speak I doubt there is one government scientist on a vessel doing quantitative of quality research on fish that are being caught, size and weight and species and monitoring just where all this over fishing is going to end up. There are few restrictions on fishing, illegal fishing is met with paltry fines, drift net fishing is rampant, [it kills and catches everything] it is actually illegal on the high seas. The sea is becoming more acidic, the sea is warming fish are migrating.

      Clearly we have problems, yes we enjoy a pleasant climate, and certainly government should provide the things you mention, it has always been the case, the destruction by typhoons can be mitigated to a degree by better practice. On the issue of HL, a layover from the feudal days, and agrarian reform generally, I think the idea was well intentioned but in the case of HL, giving 6200 hectares to 4900 ’workers’ is not going to work in the way of producing higher yields for the industry as a whole, it’s a question of economy of scale. I own about 10 hectares, and actually getting much of a living out of that is very hard, it requires heavy investment, irrigation, machinery maybe poly tunnels, hydroponics maybe and so on… Big guys can do this, corporations. I cannot see how the HL workers owning less than a hectare can make the thing pay….

       

  • nes911

    Look who’s talking, tadeo is also a landlord disguising as a poor farmer riding in a mercedes benz.

  • Lordy

    Buhay pa pala si Jaime Tadeo. Mahabang buhay.

  • Fulpol

    BS Aquino III can’t understand the feeling of small farmers because he grown up as the master..

    like Erap, he is also faking his masa poor approach…

    • buttones

      Most people find they have to worry about money; if you don’t ever, then in some fundamental way you are cut off from most people.

      • ARIKUTIK

        Money can buy food and build shelter aside from that what more benefit it can do. It can not buy loyal friends or love one with care in hot bed of till death do us part. Those who hunger for money will become slave of money worrying day after day about the money to buy friends of faked adorations. The citizens don’t need money to buy friends. Abundance of loyal friends are around. People just want to live with enough food for the children. But Penoy instead of providing jobs for food had taken away the food in poor childrens mouth through additional burden of Sin Tax. The poor children had become more malnourish than before but Penoy called the Sin TAX as health care.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PM6JHCFR2KT2AURMWRDUXBNLQY Darwin

    Teddy Locsin said it best…”what class?”

  • Your_King

    Everyone should know by now that anything that deals with the poor or the farmers & fishermen are not high up on Aquino’s to do list. Look at what happened to the victims of typhoons and natural disasters. Some are yet to receive any significant help and or assistance from Aquino and his administration. 

  • ARIKUTIK

    A Haciendero don’t have any idea about the life of the poor. The tenants are regarded as ‘Hampas Lupang’ slaves. An unworthy creatures that can be massacred at whims. Remember Hacienda Luisita Massacre. This frame of haciendero mind gives birth to RH law which does not regard the sanctity of life of The Poor. The RH law is to be implemented only to the poor women and their children in public school. A SELECTIVE law pushed by a Haciendero who views poor people as ‘Hampas Lupa’.

  • disqusted0fu

    Pnoy does not seem to care on matters where there is nothing in it for him. We definitely put the wrong guy in the presidency.

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