727 hectares of Luisita under CARP

on . Posted in DAR In The News
philstar new logoMANILA, Philippines - Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano yesterday ordered 727 hectares of Hacienda Luisita, the sugar plantation in Tarlac owned for a long time by the family of former president Benigno Aquino III, to be “immediately” placed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Mariano said this is to fulfill the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)’s mandate to place all available agricultural areas under the land reform program and to implement a Supreme Court order in 2004 for Luisita’s total distribution.

Provincial and municipal agrarian reform officers in Tarlac were ordered to immediately place 384 hectares of land owned by Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) and 353 hectares owned by the Tarlac Development Corp. (Tadeco) under CARP.

The 384 hectares is part of HLI’s 500-hectare property that was approved for conversion in 1996 and sold, transferred or assigned to Centennary Holidays Inc., Luisita Realty Corp., Luisita Industrial Park Corp. and Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), which means that the transferees stepped into the shoes of HLI between 1998 to 2005.

Mariano explained that the entire 500 hectares was converted from agricultural to industrial use on Aug. 14, 1996 using a DAR conversion order.

“However, developments were not made in 384 hectares of the land. HLI requested for an extension of time to complete the development of the property for economic reasons but DAR finds no legal basis to grant an extension. Twenty years have passed since the issuance of the conversion order,” Mariano said in a news conference.

This failure, he added, allows DAR to revoke its order and to have that portion of property covered for land distribution “subject to the right of retention.”

Mariano also ordered 353 hectares owned by Tadeco in Barangays Balete and Cutcut placed for distribution to qualified beneficiaries.

“The Tadeco areas were intentionally not included by HLI in the previous DAR land distribution process. But recent ocular inspection and investigation revealed that the property can be covered by the DAR for distribution to farmer-beneficiaries,” Mariano said.

He added that “the order in Hacienda Luisita would give justice to farmer-tenants who have struggled to take hold of the land they deserve for more than a quarter of a century, ever since agrarian reform was introduced in the country.”

Mariano, a former farmer leader, had consistently supported Hacienda Luisita farm workers, especially during the historic People’s Strike 13 years ago.

In 2004, seven people were killed and 121 were injured in what is known as the “Hacienda Luisita massacre” after a violent management dispersal of striking farm workers and officers of the United Luisita Workers Union.

Source: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/02/25/1675509/727-hectares-luisita-under-carp