DAR: Hacienda Luisita disputes to be resolved in 30 days
The land disputes in Hacienda Luisita will be resolved in 30 days—this is the promise of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to the farmers of the controversial land in a protest-dialogue on Friday.
More than a hundred members of Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita or Ambala from Tarlac expressed their grievances to the agrarian reform officials, highlighting the unfair land distribution through the use of “tambiolo” lottery, destruction of crops by bulldozer and spraying of chemicals and grave physical abuses inflicted upon farmers.
Renato Mendoza, Ambala chair, formally presented their petition to Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano.
The petition listed six provisions: Declare null and void the “fake” land distribution through “tambiolo” lottery; revoke the 1996 conversion order on 500 hectares of the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI); ensure the Supreme Court-mandated audit of the P1.33 billion share of farmers from the sale of HLI land assets; report on the complete status of land reform; categorize all civil and criminal cases against the farmers as agrarian disputes; and the removal of military troops within Hacienda Luisita.
“Ganito po. Ang ating pong policy, na ating bibigkasin muli: ‘Walang magsasaka na mapapatalsik sa kanilang lupang binubungkal,’” Mariano said.
“Ibig sabihin kahit may mga magsasaka tayo, manggagawang bukid, manggagawang agrikultural na kumakaharap ng napakaraming gawa-gawang kaso o maraming mga naka-pending na kaso, petitions, saan mang antas ng DAR dapat status quo.”
On July 1, DAR released a status quo order upon hearing the incident of the destruction of crops in Barangay Mapalacsiao, which covered about 20 hectares of mostly planted monggo (mung beans) and other food crops.
During the dialogue, Mariano counter-listed Ambala’s petition with his proposed solutions.
“Sabi natin sa Hacienda Luisita, within 30 days, mayroon tayong magiging aksyon,” the secretary said.
Mariano promised that pending cases such as the petition for revocation of conversion order, resolution on Tarlac Development Corp. (Tadeco), notice of covering, audit of P1.3 billion proceeds for agrarian reform beneficiaries and land distribution of the 4,115 hectares in Hacienda Luisita will be prioritized.
“Ang amin pong usapan, inaatasan ko ang ating undersecretary for legal affairs at ‘yung incoming undersecretary for operations at yung Bala (Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance) director na pumunta sa Tarlac at doon ay aming pag-uusapan agad-agaran ano ang kinakailangang operational solution sa hinaharap ninyo (farmworkers), lalo na ‘yung tambiolo,” Mariano said.
Mariano is set to address the concerns of the Luisita farmers next Cabinet meeting, where he will meet with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana regarding the removal of all military troops deployed in the hacienda.
“Kaya nga DAR, diba. Defend and assert the right of farmers. Walang magsasakang mapapaalis sa lupang kaniyang binubungkal,” said Mariano, who elicited applause and cheers among the farmworkers.
Mariano, who was the former head of Kilusan ng mga Magsasaka ng Pilipinas (KMP), has recently opened the gates of the Agrarian Reform Office to the public after 12 years of exclusivity. Ma. Czarina A. Fernandez and Kristina Casandra Tayam, trainees