TARLAC CITY - “This marks a new beginning to uplift and improve our lives,” says Hilario Gardanoso of Barangay Bantog, Tarlac City, one of the remaining 171 farmworker beneficiaries (FWB) of the CARP-covered agricultural portion of Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI). The vast sugarcane estate covers around 4,915 hectares.
Along with other FWBs, Gardanoso received today his Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) from Agrarian Reform Secretary Atty. John R. Castriciones
The 54-year-old Gardanoso believes that this is the perfect time to be formally installed as he and his wife, Emily, a fellow FWB, and both members of the Bantog Magsikap Farmers Agrarian Reform Cooperative (BMFARC), prepares for the entry of their 15-year-old daughter to college.
He said that with the land the received from the government, their worries for sustenance and other needs have been lessened. They will be working hard to gain additional income from planting sugarcane on the awarded land, a productive and financially-rewarding undertaking, according to him.
The distribution of the sugarcane estate was the result of the July 5, 2011 Decision of The Supreme Court of the Philippines, in the case Hacienda Luisita, Inc. versus Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), et al. (G.R. No. 171101).
In the said Decision, the High Court declared valid PARC resolution No. 2005-32-01 dated December 22, 2005 which revoked the Stock Distribution Option Plan of HLI on grounds of violation of certain provisions of the Stock Distribution Option Agreement (SDOA) entered into between HLI and its FWBs and which ultimately resolved that the subject lands be placed under the compulsory coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Under the SDOA, FWBs received shares of stocks instead of physical land distribution. Subsequent dispositions by the High Court followed on November 22, 2011 and April 24, 2012 wherein the Supreme Court maintained its stand regarding its affirmation of the said PARC Resolution mandating the immediate distribution of agricultural lands.
As a result of the Supreme Court rulings, on July 18, 2018, the DAR conducted the issuance of Lot Allocation Certificates (LAC) and facilitated the execution of the Application to Purchase and Farmer’s Undertaking (APFU) with the identified 6,212 FWBs of HLI. However, out of the 6,212 FWBs, one hundred seventy-one (171) failed to appear within the period set by DAR Administrative Order No. 03, Series of 2012, to finally claim their rights over the lots. They were, however, given a second chance. This time, only forty-six (46) responded to DAR’s call and were eventually allowed to avail of the LAC through an Order issued by the DAR on August 26, 2014. Out of the remaining 125 FWBs who were considered disqualified pursuant to their failure to respond to DAR’s notices, 14 FWBs were eventually allowed to claim their LAC and sign the required APFU. The 60 FWBs have not formally received their CLOAs.
As for the remaining 111, their disqualification was eventually lifted through on Order issued by then Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael V. Mariano on February 16, 2017 pursuant to the amendment of Section 19 of DAR A.O 03, Series of 2012 by DAR A.O. 01, Series of 2017. Under the said amendment, failure of the ARB/FWB to take oath is not construed as a waiver to become an ARB/FWB.
Meanwhile, Florida Sibayan, Chairman of the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid ng Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) and an FWB herself, hopes that the 111 FWBs, all members of the AMBALA, will make productive the land given to them by the government. She wants to give emphasis that a piece of land continues to sustain life even if one passes so that it is important that none of the FWBs will convey his or her right over the awarded land. Finally, she prays that the government will continue providing them the much needed support services as a means of sustainable agricultural development.
Photo: DAR Sec. John Castriciones congratulates Maria Teresa Martin, wife of Leonardo martin (deceased) during the farmers' installation held this morning in Barangay Bantog, Tarlac City. Martin was among 171 farmworker beneficiaries (FBs) awarded with CLOAs this morning.
Also in photo are DAR Regional Director Homer Tobias, Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Ileona Pangilinan, Hilario Gardanoso and Atty. Mercelino Marata.
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