MANILA, Philippines – The agrarian reform secretary ordered on Thursday, August 25, the distribution of hundreds of hectares of Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, which are in addition to the almost 5,000 hectares that the Supreme Court had ordered for parcelling out. (READ:#StoryOfTheNation: State of Hacienda Luisita)The 358.22 hectares of prime agricultural lands ordered distributed by Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano are in the villages of Belete and CutCut in Tarlac City.
They are owned and managed by Tarlac Development Corporation-Hacienda Luisita (Tadeco) of the families of former presidents Corazon Cojuangco Aquino and Benigno Cojuangco Aquino III.
In a bulletin published on the website of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Mariano explained that the said parcels of land were not among the 4,915.75 hectares that Tadeco had assigned and conveyed to its spin-off corporation, Hacienda Luisita Incorporated (HLI).
Since only the properties under the name of HLI were covered by theSupreme Court order for distribution, the Alyansa Ng Manggagawang Bukid Ng Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), an organization farmworkers in the sugar estate, filed a petition with DAR, seeking to put the Tadeco properties under the agrarian reform program.
Ambala members have said that they qualify as farmer-beneficiaries should the Tadeco properties be distributed. (READ:Hacienda Luisita: The struggle continues)
In 2013, the DAR issued notices of coverage of 8 Tadeco properties, which the corporation protested.
Denying Tadeco’s protest and supplemental protest for lack of merit, Mariano said the notices for coverage remain valid for the following parcels of land: T-400301; T-231174; T-231166; T-231183; T-231164; T-408282; T-408283; and T-408279.
Mariano directed the DAR Provincial Office of Tarlac “to immediately proceed with and complete the land acquisition and distribution process over the subject properties in the light of the provisions of Section 30 of Republic Act Number 9700” or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms law.
The section on resolution of cases reads: “Any case and/or proceeding involving the implementation of the provisions of Republic Act Number 6657, as amended, which may remain pending on June 30, 2014, shall be allowed to proceed to its finality and be executed even beyond such date.”
RA 6657 is theComprehensive Agrarian Reform Law signed by President Corazon Aquino on June 10, 1988.
The DAR secretary also told DAR Regional Office III “to do all acts and things necessary, including but not limited to securing assistance from appropriate law enforcement officials, to ensure that landowner-protestant Tadeco and/or any persons acting in its behalf comply with this order.” –Rappler.com