Vast Araneta, Aguinaldo estates eyed for land reform
Incoming Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano has sets his sights on distributing to farmers the vast landholdings of the Aranetas in Bulacan and the Aguinaldos in Cavite, aside from the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita.
The militant peasant leader said he will immediately review the “antifarmer decisions” of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on the Araneta and Aguinaldo estates, which he said were vestiges of the Spanish colonial era.
“To this day, the Aranetas, a big landlord family of Spanish origin, continue to control tens of thousands of hectares of land in Bulacan and other parts of the country,” Mariano said on Friday.
“This is worsened by the irony that the heirs of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, who claimed so-called independence from Spanish colonialism, are now leading the land-grabbing and eviction of farmers in Cavite,” said the former Anakpawis party-list lawmaker.
Mariano described the two estates, along with the Hacienda Luisita sugarcane estate owned by the maternal relatives of President Aquino in Tarlac, as the “epitomes of a fake land reform” program.
He vowed to reverse antifarmer decisions of the DAR by reviewing the petition of farmers in Hacienda Luisita to revoke the land use conversion issued by the DAR in favor of the Cojuangcos.
On Friday, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), which Mariano heads, led farmers from San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, and Silang, Cavite, in a rally outside the DAR central office in Quezon City to call for a stop to the land use conversion of the Araneta and Aguinaldo estates.
Farmers from San Jose del Monte said more than 300 hectares of farmlands were being taken away from them to make way for the Metro Rail Transit-7 intermodal depot and its commercial and residential components.
Meanwhile, farmers from Barangays Tartaria and Lumil in Silang said they were being evicted from a more than 350-hectare agricultural estate to make way for a residential and tourism zone.
Mariano vowed that “no farmer will be displaced” under his watch, and promised to reverse antifarmer decisions, impose a moratorium on land use conversion and stop the cancellation of farmers’ land ownership certificates.
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