MANILA, Philippines—The distribution of lot allocation certificates (LACs) in Hacienda Luisita should finally put to rest any fears that President Benigno Aquino III was unwilling to part with the family-owned sugar estate, Malacañang said on Friday.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the Aquino administration has always been determined to distribute the remaining 4,099.91 hectares of the estate to 6,212 beneficiaries ever since the Supreme Court ruled that it be redistributed in accordance with the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.
“Whatever doubts that people may have, whatever doubts that some sectors may have about the distribution of Luisita, your doubts should all be put to rest. It’s happening right now,” Lacierda told a Palace briefing.
Lacierda said the distribution of LACs was the “first step” that would lead to the eventual distribution in September of certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs), or individual titles, to the farm workers.
“The allocation … should be finished by Aug. 21. Allocation is preparatory to issuance and distribution of registered CLOAs, which will happen in September,” he said.
Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes last Friday raffled off future landholdings to the farm workers in Barangay Cutcut, one of the 10 villages straddling the sprawling sugar estate in Tarlac province.
There are some 645 qualified beneficiaries in Cutcut, each one entitled to 6,600 square meters, or .66 ha.
The militant peasant group, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), assailed the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) use of a raffle draw to distribute the LACs, describing it as “very unscientific, foolish, and idiotic.”
‘Tambiolo’ land reform
“DAR’s ‘tambiolo’ land reform shows that the Aquino government is not serious in distributing Hacienda Luisita lands to farm workers. It is an insult to the life and death struggle of Hacienda Luisita farm workers,” said KMP secretary general Antonio Flores in a statement.
If at all, this was proof that “CARP (the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program) is a sham,” he said.
Last year, after the high court ruled with finality on the redistribution of the sugar estate, farm workers were skeptical that they would eventually own the land.
In May 2012, the high court justices voted 8 to 6 rejecting the bid by the Cojuangco family to secure at least P5 billion in compensation for Hacienda Luisita and affirmed a November 2011 ruling that valued the vast sugar estate at around P196 million using 1989 prices.
In November 2011, the high court voted for the distribution of the estate to the farmers.
Complying with law
Lacierda said the distribution of the LACs was part of the process undertaken by the DAR in compliance with the high tribunal’s ruling.
“That’s the promise after the Supreme Court decision. DAR is doing what it’s supposed to do… we’re complying with the law,” he said.