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6,000 Luisita beneficiaries tagged–DAR

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The family of President Benigno Aquino is much closer to losing ownership of large portions of its Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said on Friday that 6,300 farm workers have made it to the final list of beneficiaries of lands in the sugar estate that were ordered distributed by the Supreme Court in April last year.

Copies of the final list are set for posting next week in 10 villages within the estate’s areas in Tarlac City, Concepcion and La Paz towns, De los Reyes said in a telephone interview.

Each village will have 20 sheets of tarpaulin showing all the names of the beneficiaries that will be printed in large bold letters.

The final list was scheduled to be posted on the first week of February but it was delayed because the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) “did a lot of redundancy checks on the list,” De los Reyes said.

He said no one petitioned to exclude names from the preliminary master list.

He added that he is not the Virgilio S. de los Reyes in the final list. He identified De los Reyes as a farm worker.

The beneficiaries were verified through three documents: the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) so-called 6296 list; a list of workers who participated in the 1989 referendum, which made stock sharing a mode of agrarian reform distribution; and the Social Security System collection list.

Out of the 8,641 farm workers who were interviewed and screened for the list, the names of 5,169 workers were listed in the HLI 6296 list and the 1989 referendum list, according to a memorandum issued by De los Reyes.

The remaining 2,044 applicants may be heirs of the original land beneficiaries.

The DAR undertook the validation after the high court upheld the decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council to revoke the stocks distribution program.

Once the final list of beneficiaries is posted, the DAR will field teams in each of the 10 villages to conduct final interviews of the farm workers.

“There are villages with many beneficiaries and few farm lots as there are many farm lots with few beneficiaries. So the [DAR teams] will verify the location of home lots, ask the beneficiaries where they like their farm lots to be located, who do they prefer to be near to, what crops they intend to plant and what kind of workshops they want to take between now and the distribution in May or June,” De los Reyes said.

He said the DAR, HLI and leaders of farm workers organizations have inspected lot areas that would not be distributed because they are used for roads and firebreaks. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

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Tags: agrarian reform , Benigno Aquino , Hacienda Luisita , Tarlac

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