DAR final list of Luisita lot owners out February

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TARLAC CITY—The final list of beneficiaries of 4,915 hectares in Hacienda Luisita will be released in the first week of February, moving the distribution of a large chunk of the sugar estate owned by the family of President Aquino toward the last stretch, according to Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes.

At least 5,365 farm workers are in the preliminary master list of land reform beneficiaries, while 1,221 others are in the provisional list.

De los Reyes, however, did not say how many of the original 6,296 farm workers who availed themselves of stocks in 1989 or their heirs have made it to the final list.

He clarified that there is “no more chance to exclude them from the list or for the agency to add more names to the list.”

With the completion of the segregation and aerial surveys, De los Reyes said he would like to see the scope of lands that are used as roads, irrigation canals, chapels, barangay centers and farms.

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) process was rolled out after the Supreme Court issued in April 2012 a final order that upheld its November 2011 ruling on the issue. It said the 2005 decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council to scrap the stocks distribution option and hand out land titles was valid.

The decision was hailed by farm workers who had demanded the actual distribution of Luisita lands in a joint strike with mill workers in 2004.

The Cojuangco family bought the mill and the plantation in 1954 through a government loan and guarantee.

De los Reyes said “who gets what and where could be a matter of choice and chance.” He did not elaborate.

He said the Department of Agrarian Reform would have no part or say in the lease arrangement which farmer-beneficiaries may have with sugar planters once the beneficiaries sign the applications to buy lands. The Supreme Court pegged the price of these land transactions on the land values of 1989.

“Planters have dealt with many people who are not beneficiaries so [lease arrangements] are at their own risk,” De los Reyes said. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

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