Another set of 586 farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita were allotted parcels of land Monday, July 22, as the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) resumed its lot allocation activity for qualified beneficiaries in the vast sugar estate.
The DAR’s latest activity in Barangay Lourdes brought to 1,231 the total number of beneficiaries who were allotted specific farm lots since the Department began the process of land distribution in Hacienda Luisita last week.
The first lot allocation activity took place last July 18 in Barangay Cutcut, where 645 farmworkers earned the distinction of becoming the first batch of qualified beneficiaries who were guaranteed specific parcels of lots in the sugar estate.
As in the case of Barangay Cutcut, DAR Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes personally supervised the lot allocation activity in Barangay Lourdes before he proceeded to the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Batasan, Quezon City.
DAR Undersecretary Anthony Parungao, who supervised the event through its conclusion, noted that it took the DAR field personnel only five hours to wrap up the lot allocation activity in Barangay Lourdes.
Parungao reported to the DAR chief that only eight of the 586 beneficiaries in Barangay Lourdes failed to attend the lot allocation activity in Barangay Lourdes.
Parungao said the family members of the eight who did not make it to event informed the DAR personnel that the beneficiaries would proceed to the DAR Provincial Office in Tarlac today, July 24, to get their Lot Allocation Certificates and sign the Application to Purchase and Farmers’ Understanding (APFU).
Both documents are needed for DAR to generate the Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) that would be distributed to 6,212 qualified beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita.
After Barangays Cutcut and Lourdes, the DAR field personnel would proceed to Barangay Bantog on Thursday to resume its lot allocation activity.
The DAR expects to wrap up its lot allocation activities on August 21, when all the 10 barangays of Hacienda Luisita are covered.
Delos Reyes has vowed to continue with the land distribution process in Hacienda Luisita despite a motion filed by a farmers’ group in the Supreme Court to cite the DAR in contempt for proceeding with the lot allocation activity for qualified farmworker-beneficiaries.
“The Supreme Court has directed us to distribute the land to qualified beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita and we, in the DAR, are following this instruction to the letter. Only the Supreme Court can stop us now from doing our job,” Delos Reyes stressed.
Delos Reyes has expressed disappointment that AMBALA, one of the four farmers’ groups operating in Hacienda Luisita, has moved to cite the DAR in contempt and to stop the process of land distribution in the vast sugar estate.
The DAR chief noted that suspending lot allocation activities in Hacienda Luisita would only prolong the agony of qualified beneficiaries who expect the farm lots to be awarded to them in September.
“Definitely, any order that will stop DAR from proceeding with lot allocation activities in Hacienda Luisita case will set back our timetable in land acquisition and distribution,” Delos Reyes pointed out.
“I don’t see how the suspension of DAR activities in Hacienda Luisita can help the cause of fast-tracking the process of land distribution in the sugar estate. Undue delay in land distribution is definitely not in the best interest of the qualified beneficiaries,” he added.
Delos Reyes said he is ready to defend before the Supreme Court all the activities being undertaken by DAR personnel related to the land distribution process in Hacienda Luisita.