KMP slams master list of Luisita land reform beneficiaries

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MANILA, Philippines—A militant peasant group described as a “sham” the final master list of farmers and farm workers who stand to receive land from Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac that was released by the Department of Agrarian Reform on Wednesday.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said it found the master list of agrarian reform beneficiaries who would receive land from Hacienda Luisita, a vast sugar estate owned by the family of President Benigno Aquino III, to be highly questionable.

“This sham master list is based on the whims of the Cojaungco-Aquino’s and completely prejudiced the rights of legitimate farm workers,” KMP deputy secretary general Randall Echanis said in a statement.

“Even the basis of the DAR’s master list is patently illegal,” he said, referring to the DAR’s pronouncement that the final list was based on the master list submitted by Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) to the Supreme Court in 2010 during oral arguments before the high court and HLI’s list of employees under the Social Security System.

“The master list submitted by the HLI to the Supreme Court is a product of an illegal process or the bogus referendum conducted by the Cojuangcos in August 2010,” Echanis said.

“And since when did the SSS become a basis for the identification of farmer-beneficiaries?” he asked, adding, “SSS membership only proves the employer-employee relationship and is not a basis for the identification of beneficiaries.”

The KMP leader said the names of “Cojuangco loyalists” made it to the DAR’s final list. He identified them as HLI supervisor Windsor Andaya, Noel Mallari, Julio Suniga, Eldie Pingol, HLI engineer Rizalino Sotto, and Edgardo Aguas, incumbent chairman of Barangay Central inside Hacienda Luisita.

“These are the very same people who sided with the Cojuangcos, argued for the continuance of the anti-peasant stock distribution option scheme, and vigorously opposed land distribution,” Echanis added.

KMP claimed that a petition for the six names to be excluded from the list was made by Alyansa ng mga Manggagawa sa Asyenda Luisita, or Ambala, but Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio De Los Reyes said his department received no petition for exclusion at all.

The DAR posted on Wednesday its final list of agrarian reform beneficiaries on the basis of two lists, one submitted by the HLI to the Supreme Court in 2010, and the stock distribution option (SDO) referendum list in 1989, “as well as other documents with evidentiary value, such as, but not limited to, SSS records.”

“In arriving at the final master list, the DAR was guided solely by the existence of substantial evidence,” it said in a statement.

In 1988, when the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program took effect, the owners of Hacienda Luisita gave the farmers an option to own shares of stock instead of land in what was seen by some as an attempt to circumvent the law.

After a prolonged 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 of Hacienda Luisita.

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

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