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DAR chief bound to implement SC decision on HLI

news reg 3 pix 1 nov. 17 2016Twelve years after the Hacienda Luisita Massacre, agrarian reform chief Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano remains determined to implement the 2012 Supreme Court (SC) ruling that ordered the Cojuangco clan to distribute the 4,335-hectare hacienda, along with a P1.3-billion payout, to 6,212 farmer beneficiaries.

Seven people were killed along with dozens injured and 112 arrested when farmers on strike were brutally dispersed in the hacienda on November 16, 2004. Countless others have died over the years as the farmers continued their fight for genuine land reform.

In the face of a four-year-old SC order and two agrarian reform laws since 1989, the Cojuangco clan continued to have a firm control over the expansive Tarlac estate.

The farmworkers’ strike over a decade ago was at the height of protest actions against the ploy of the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) to keep its workers’ wages to a low of P9.50 weekly. Over the years, state forces and goons have demolished homes and destroyed crops in order to evict long-time tillers of the disputed area.

Despite efforts of the HLI to delay implementation of the High Court’s decision, however, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) expects to push forward with the audit of the P1.3-billion worth of proceeds from previous deals made by the HLI. 

The DAR has coordinated with three auditing firms and has threatened legal action against the HLI should the corporation plan to purposely delay the proceedings again.

Delaying tactics and corporate maneuvering of the Cojuanco clan have prolonged the suffering of HLI workers, according to Mariano.

Last October, the DAR chief announced that he would not allow the disqualification of farmworker-beneficiaries rendered under the "tambiolo system," pending a complete review and investigation of land reform implementation in the hacienda.

Instead of a free and unconditional distribution of land titles to more than 6,000 farmworkers, the previous DAR administration raffled farming lots by randomly assigning the parcels of land to each beneficiary.

“The narrative of the Hacienda Luisita has been one of pain and struggle for decades. We shall end it now,” Mariano declared.

Photo: Relatives of the seven farmers killed in the Hacienda Luisita Massacre gathered at the Central Azucarera de Tarlac to pay tribute to their fallen loved ones during the commemoration of the 12th year anniversary of the massacre, November 16.

Solidarity Lunch

news reg 2 pix 1 oct. 1 2016Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael "Ka Paeng" Mariano joins farmer in a boodle fight he calls, "Solidarity lunch for the victims of Hacienda Luisita massacre." The lunch commemorates the heroism of seven farmers who died in 2004 fighting for the rights of the farmers. 


DAR invalidates "Tambiolo Agraryo" in Hacienda Luisita Mariano says: "We begin genuine agrarian reform at the belly of the beast."

news reg 1 pix 1 oct. 1 2016Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano announced that he would not allow the disqualification of farmworker-beneficiaries  rendered under the "tambiolo system," pending a complete review and investigation of land reform implementation in Hacienda Luisita.

Mariano made the announcement when he visited Tarlac province to meet farm workers and beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita in the quest for land reform and social justice.

“We begin genuine agrarian reform at the belly of the beast—in Hacienda Luisita, where farmer-tenants have struggled to take the land due to them for more than a quarter of a century, ever since agrarian reform was introduced in the country,” Mariano  said.

The former leader of the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and three-term legislator of Anakpawis Partylist had consistently supported Hacienda Luisita farmworkers, especially during the historic People’s Strike 12 years ago.

In 2004, the Hacienda Luisita management retrenched 327 farm workers of the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), including its union officers. The move incited ULWU to launch a strike and to block Gate 1 of the sugar mill. In what is now known as the “Hacienda Luisita massacre,” seven people were killed and 121 injured—32 from gunshot wounds—as a result of management’s violent dispersal of the striking ULWU workers.

Mariano said that to date, 111 farmworker beneficiaries (FWBs) had been reportedly disqualified by the previous DAR administration for refusing to sign the Application to Purchase and Farmers’ Undertaking (APFU) document.

“Refusing to sign the APFU should not be a ground for disqualifying an individual as beneficiary of land reform,” said Mariano, who stressed that disqualification based on refusal to sign the APFU has become common practice for disenfranchising farmer-beneficiaries in other land reform areas across the country.

“The DAR should never impose the threat of DQ –and even the filing of criminal charges –against farmers without thoroughly investigating their circumstances or understanding their predicament,” he said.

Walang magsasaka na mapapalayas sa lupang kanilang binubungkal (No farmer should be evicted from the land he farms),” Mariano stressed, reiterating DAR’s new policy.news reg 1 pix 2 oct. 1 2016  

“Hacienda Luisita is in fact a special case, and we must carefully study the merits of the farmworkers’ call for free land distribution – the beneficiaries assert that they have already paid for the required amortization while they were still under the SDO. Due process must be observed before disqualification,” Mariano added.  

“Farmers in Hacienda Luisita  have inspired many to realize the principle ‘land to the tiller’ despite all odds,” said Mariano, referring to the Supreme Court’s (SC) order for total land distribution of Hacienda Luisita. Luisita farmers fiercely campaigned for a favorable SC ruling even after the Luisita Massacre in 2004.

Aside from monitoring the implementation of the SC order, which primarily covered Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) landholdings placed under the stock distribution option (SDO), Mariano is also bent on fulfilling the DAR’s prime mandate to cover for land reform all available agricultural areas in Hacienda Luisita.

Mariano recently junked the protest of the Cojuangco-Aquino owned Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) against land reform coverage of an additional 358 hectares in Barangays Balete and Cutcut, also in Luisita. The said TADECO areas were not included in the previous DAR’s land distribution process, which was limited to landholdings under HLI.  

Mariano personally led an  inspection to verify the actual merits for land reform coverage of many other landholdings in Hacienda Luisita which are still owned by various Cojuangco-Aquino affiliated firms.   

news reg 1 pix 3 oct. 1 2016Farmworkers accompanied Mariano in his ocular visit to the 500-hectare property with a petition for revocation of the 1996 conversion order pending before the DAR.  The area is now controlled by RCBC, Luisita Industrial Park Corporation (LIPCO), and Luisita Land Corporation (LLC), formerly known as the Luisita Realty Corporation (LRC). Mariano also noted the presence of military detachments in land reform areas in several barangays.

DAR to press charges vs aryendadors

The DAR will definitely press charges against these ‘financiers’ or aryendadors who coerce, lure and swindle beneficiaries into this illicit scheme. “The aryendo system must stop. They must be charged for obstruction of land reform in Hacienda Luisita,” warned Mariano.

“We have received reports of wide-ranging disenfranchisement of FWBs in Luisita. Beneficiaries who were also victimized by the rampant aryendo or illicit lease-back system utilized by so-called ‘financiers’ must not be disqualified from land reform. They are victims of scheming opportunists who wish to subvert land reform in Luisita,” said Mariano.

“We salute the determination and courage of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers. We must continue to work together to make genuine agrarian reform a reality,” he said.

DAR to probe farmers’ killing in Nueva Ecija, Isabela

news  reg  1 pix 1 sept. 92016Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano ordered the conduct of an investigation regarding the killing of five (5) farmers who were shot dead last Saturday in Laur, Nueva Ecija and last Wednesday in Isabela province, even as he extends his grief and condolences to the bereaved families of the victims.

Mariano ordered his men to conduct an investigation and bring to justice the perpetrators of the crime.

Mariano directed Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Office (LAO) Luis Meinrado C. Pangulayan to lead the fact-finding team that would look into the two separate incidents. Pangulayan will be assisted by LAO Assistant Secretay Elmer N. Distor with the following members: Regional Director of the concerned region, Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer and Chief Legal Division of the province, a farmer-representative from a recognized farmers organization in the area and Office of the Secretary representative Attyy. Jun-Jun Malsi.

Aside from investigating the killing incident, Mariano instructed the team to determine if the two incidents were agrarian-related.

Initial reports showed that farmers Baby Mercado, Violeta Mercado, Eligio Barbado and Gaudencio Bagalay were shot dead in Laur, Nueva Ecija by three armed men as they were resting in their farms between 2 to 3 p.m. last Saturday, while three unidentified men killed Ariel Diaz, head of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) chapter Danggayan Dagiti Manalon or Dagami at his farm in Villa Pereda, Isabela.



Region III News

news reg 3 pix 1 nov. 17 2016
November 17, 2016 40

DAR chief bound to implement SC decision on HLI

Twelve years after the Hacienda Luisita Massacre, agrarian reform chief Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano remains determined to implement the 2012 Supreme Court (SC) ruling that ordered the Cojuangco clan to distribute the 4,335-hectare hacienda, along with a… Read More..
news reg 2 pix 1 oct. 1 2016
Oct 01, 2016 92

Solidarity Lunch

Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael "Ka Paeng" Mariano joins farmer in a boodle fight he calls, "Solidarity lunch for the victims of Hacienda Luisita massacre." The lunch commemorates the heroism of seven farmers who died in 2004 fighting for the rights of the… Read More..
news reg 1 pix 1 oct. 1 2016
Oct 01, 2016 189

DAR invalidates "Tambiolo Agraryo" in Hacienda Luisita…

Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano announced that he would not allow the disqualification of farmworker-beneficiaries rendered under the "tambiolo system," pending a complete review and investigation of land reform implementation in Hacienda… Read More..
news  reg  1 pix 1 sept. 92016
Sep 09, 2016 107

DAR to probe farmers’ killing in Nueva Ecija, Isabela

Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano ordered the conduct of an investigation regarding the killing of five (5) farmers who were shot dead last Saturday in Laur, Nueva Ecija and last Wednesday in Isabela province, even as he extends his grief… Read More..