Include big landholdings, haciendas in free land distribution–KMP
An activist farmers’ group on Wednesday asked the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to clarify the coverage of lands for distribution to farmers, and urged the department to include big landholdings and haciendas in the said distribution.
“The six million hectares of public and private agricultural lands that should be targeted for free land distribution to farmers must include big landholdings, haciendas and land estates that are still under the control of big landowners,” the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said in a statement.
“It’s 2017 but haciendas remain intact,” it added.
Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano earlier said that he is looking at some six million hectares of public and private agricultural lands, some of which have been exempted from agrarian reform, for distribution to farmers.
Mariano said he has proposed to the government and communist rebel peace panels to include in their agenda the free distribution to farmers of all agricultural lands, including those that had been reclassified for residential or commercial uses.
KMP secretary general Antonio Flores said that haciendas already tilled by farmers and farm workers should be among the lands that the government should acquire and distribute.
“These haciendas, including ‘sullied landholdings’ or lands illegally or fraudulently acquired by landlords through legal maneuvers, circumvention of agrarian reform program, use of force and violence should be subject to DAR’s compulsory acquisition and distribution,” Flores said.
He said that the land classification should not be the lone basis for inclusion to land reform coverage. Land use conversion as a form of land grabbing has exempted lands from agrarian reform.
“The actual use of land, especially if tilled and cultivated by farmers for agricultural production, should be among the basis for coverage,” he argued, as it urged DAR to fast-track resolution of agrarian disputes in big landholdings.
Flores added that many haciendas have remained “untouched” by the government’s land reform program.
He recalled that the DAR has yet to complete the distribution of the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita which he said was ordered for distribution by the Supreme Court in April 2012.
“Five years after the final and executory SC decision, Luisita farmer-beneficiaries do not have control over the lands, proving the ‘tambiolo raffle land reform’ implemented under the Aquino administration to be an epic failure,” he said.
Flores said that among other haciendas that should be subject to acquisition and distribution are Hacienda Looc with 8,650 hectares, Hacienda Roxas with 8,813 hectares and Hacienda Zobel with 12,000 hectares, which are all located in Batangas; Araneta Estate with 3,000 hectares (Bulacan), Hacienda Dolores with 8,000 hectares (Pampanga), and Hacienda Yulo with 7,100 hectares (Laguna).
“These haciendas have become ‘battlegrounds of agrarian struggles’ between farmers and landlords for many years,” he said. JE
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