DAR: Only farmworkers on Luisita list
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) will deal only with farmworkers, not with other parties, when it distributes land inside the sugar estate owned by the family of President Aquino, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said.
He said this is how things are going to be with beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita as DAR prepares to distribute 4,915 hectares in the estate.
On Monday, DAR put up advisories in all 10 villages in the 6,443-ha estate to announce this guideline. Tarpaulins were displayed in Barangays Balite, Cutcut, Bantug, Texas (Lourdes), Asturias and Mapalacsiao in Tarlac City; Pando, Parang and Mabilog in Concepcion town; and Motrico in La Paz town.
The advisory, written in Filipino and Kapampangan, went: “The land of the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) is covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in compliance with the decision of the Supreme Court…”
“Everyone is reminded that whatever agreements you made with parties involving this land or parts of it will not be recognized. DAR will implement the orders given only by the Supreme Court in this case,” it said.
De los Reyes said the notice had to be issued because many farmworkers had entered into many “informal arrangements.”
He said planters have “dealt with many people who are not beneficiaries.”
With no source of income after the 2004 strike and after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order against CARP coverage of Luisita, farmworkers, through their leaders, asked the HLI to allow them to cultivate plots for food or cash crops.
The Cojuangco family-owned Tarlac Development Corp. and farmworkers organized in 1989 the HLI to manage the shares of stock representing the land.
After 2004, others leased out the land for P10,000 per hectare a year for lack of capital or were wooed by big sugar planters and their financiers.
At least 3,000 ha inside Luisita were planted with sugarcane during the recent cropping, data from Central Azucarera de Tarlac Planters Association showed.
De los Reyes said the lease system, called “arriendo” or “upa,” would complicate the last phase of the survey as DAR is set to issue the final list of beneficiaries in the first week of February.
He did not say how many of the original 6,296 farmworkers who availed themselves of stocks in 1989 or their heirs have made it to the final list. But what is sure is that the list would not be modified anymore, he said.
At least 5,365 farmworkers are in the preliminary master list and 1,221 others are in the provisional list. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon