DAR to complete installation of Luisita land reform beneficiaries in May

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inquirer netMANILA, Philippines—The Department of Agrarian Reform is confident it would be able to complete the installation of land reform beneficiaries at Hacienda Luisita by next month barring any disruption or harassment by outside forces.

Agrarian Reform Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Paruñgao said the agency was on track in the process of “monumenting” and installing the farm workers on the master list of beneficiaries qualified to receive a portion of the sugar estate.

To date, 87.5 percent of the monumenting work has been completed, he said in a news release, referring to process of delineating the boundaries of a piece of land to be awarded to former tenants by placing markers or “mujons.”

Some 6,024 farm lots have been delineated and 4,716 farm workers have been installed in more or less 5,500 lots, or almost 76 percent of those on the master list, Paruñgao said.

This was “despite reported instances of harassment of survey teams and actual destruction of the boundary markers by those opposed to the DAR effort,” he added.

“The DAR is confident that the remaining 860 lots on balance will be monumented shortly, and that the remaining farmer beneficiaries will be installed by next month, barring any further acts of harassment or obstruction,” he said.

The DAR also clarified that the Supreme Court decision to distribute the land of the Hacienda Luisita estate did not favor any single group.

Paruñgao said the court decision was clear in ordering the distribution of the land to farmer beneficiaries who meet the requirements or criteria it had set in its landmark ruling.

He added that Supreme Court had ordered the DAR to distribute land to farm workers of the hacienda in 1989, which, Parungao said, the department painstakingly followed.

“There was never any reference in the SC decision to favor any particular farmers’ group. It would be grossly unfair to the other groups and farmers which advocated for its distribution, or to the vast majority of unaffiliated beneficiaries, for any one group to claim the land,” he said.

In 1988, when the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program took effect, the owners of Hacienda Luisita gave the farmers an option to own shares of stock instead of land.

After a prolonged court battle, in 2012, the Supreme Court upheld with finality the decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council in 2005 to scrap the stock distribution option at Hacienda Luisita.

The court ordered the distribution of 4,915 hectares of the estate to 6,296 farm workers. The DAR later identified and released a final list of 6,212 approved beneficiaries.