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Farmers seek swifter setup of Luisita landmarkers

/ 07:40 PM December 26, 2013

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – Farmworkers at Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province have accused personnel of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) of slowing down the setting of boundary markers (mojon) in plots titled to them, resulting in the delay of the completion of agrarian reform in the sugar estate.

DAR employees, they said, have been slow in setting the mojon in 4,001 hectares of the more than 6,000-ha Hacienda Luisita because they were either afraid of the ariendador (middlemen or planters who rent lands to grow sugarcane) or in cahoots with them.

The farmworkers did not want to be identified or give their home villages for fear of reprisal from the DAR or ariendador.

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They said the setting of boundary markers happens even as the harvest of sugarcane is almost finished and the plots are already cleared.

But lawyer Anthony Parungao, agrarian reform undersecretary for legal affairs, said the farmworkers’ suspicion has “absolutely without any basis whatsoever.”

“Mojon are needed to avoid boundary disputes. Also, how will a farmworker-beneficiary know the exact metes and bounds of his or her farm lot without the monuments? This is the reason we are rushing this,” Parungao said on Thursday.

“We’ve already started installing the monuments on portions of the landholding planted to rice that were already harvested. Next up will be those lands planted to sugar as soon as harvesting is done,” he said.

Mojon are being set in rice lands in Barangay Pando, Motrico, Parang and Mapalacsiao, he said.

In a statement, Renato Lalic, head of Farmworkers Agrarian Reform Movement (Farm), said rice farmers in Hacienda Luisita did not plant this cropping season because the lots they were tilling were allocated to others.

The ariendo, or lease system, evolved after the 2004 joint strike of mill and farmworkers. Without work, organized farmworkers occupied lands to grow cash or food crops.

Village leaders regulated this form of land control by assigning plots to other farmers. But for lack of money to farm, they leased their plots at P10,000 per hectare.

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Central Azucarera de Tarlac Planters Association and Association of Sugar Planters in Central Luzon grow sugarcane on some 3,000 ha in Hacienda Luisita, which is 75 percent of what the high court ordered distributed to agrarian reform beneficiaries in the estate. But this represents only 16 percent of the 18,000 ha usually planted to sugarcane every season in Tarlac.

“The ariendador are offering us advances so that we are forever tied to the leasing arrangement,” one of the farmworkers told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“Our agreement with DAR was the mojon would be installed after the crops were harvested. But the ariendador are having this delayed,” another farmworker said.

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TAGS: agrarian reform, DAR, Farmers, Hacienda Luisita, Luisita landmarkers, Regions
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