Secretary in the News

June 26, 2017 535

DAR officials, employees reach 'agreement' on 4-year row

MANILA -- Agrarian reform officials and employees have reached an agreement that would end their four-year row over the plight of 10,000 department employees nationwide who were displaced under the government’s rationalization scheme. Read More..
manilatimes 1
Jun 12, 2017 350

Food firm’s complaint vs DAR officials junked

The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed a graft complaint filed by the Lapanday Foods Corporation (LFC) against Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael Mariano and Undersecretary Luis Pañgulayan. Read More..
business mirror
May 30, 2017 1191

DAR amends rules on adjudication of agrarian law…

TO ensure a just, inexpensive and expeditious determination of agrarian cases, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has amended its rules on adjudication of cases involving agrarian law implementation (ALI). Read More..
May 30, 2017 461

Luisita farmers to stay as lot owners

AGRARIAN Secretary Rafael Mariano said on Friday that farmer-beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita Inc. will stay as owners of lots under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Read More..

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Mariano again hits Aquino over sacada in sugar estate

TheStandardAGRARIAN Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano hit out on Tuesday former President Benigno Aquino III for keeping silent on the recruitment of seasonal contractual sugar farmers, locally called sacada, from Mindanao at the Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac. “Why is ex-PNoy mum on slave-like condition of sakadas in Hacienda Luisita?” Mariano asked, demanding that Aquino and the rest of the Aquino family answer the sacada complaints of unfair labor practices.

“The Cojuangco-Aquino clan has a lot of explaining why Central Azucarera de Tarlac allowed the illegal recruitment of some 1,000 sacada [workers] from Mindanao and subjected these sacada to slave wages and slave-like working conditions in Hacienda Luisita,” Mariano said.

“This problem has been festering since November 2016 and to this day, the Cojuangco-Aquino family has brazenly brushed aside efforts to remedy the situation,” he added.

He said the former president has “turned a blind eye and a deaf ear” toward the gross social injustice and violation of human rights committed by his family against the Mindanao sacada.

Former Tarlac congressman Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. told the media in January that Hacienda Luisita did not need to hire laborers, including cane cutters from Mindanao, because the estate has been using mechanical harvesters to cut and collect sugar cane.

Cojuangco is one of the owners of the remaining lands not covered by agrarian reform in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province.

But Mariano said a probe conducted by the Department of Agrarian Reform and Department of Labor and Employment proved Cojuangco’s assertion to be false.

In August 2016, Agrikulto Inc. requested the recruitment agency Greenhand Labor Service Cooperative to procure on their behalf some 1,000 sugarcane workers or cane cutters to work in Hacienda Luisita with Agrikulto business manager Lito Laus signing the request letter.

Agrikulto Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Central Azucarera de Tarlac, the biggest sugar mill in Central Luzon. The clan of the Cojuangcos-Aquinos and the Lorenzo family jointly own company.

Of the approximately 1,000 sugarcane workers recruited in Mindanao, some 160 sacada came from the province of Bukidnon. They arrived in batches to Hacienda Luisita since the first week of November 2016.

The Organisasyon sa Yanong Obrerong Nagkahiusa, a local affiliate of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, affirmed a number of their member-farmworkers were recruited as cane cutters or sacada and transported to Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

“Many of the recruited [Mindanao tribesmen called lumad] were unable to read and write and were recruited through verbal agreements or upon endorsement of lumad chieftains,” DAR said.

Recruited lumad were promised a “Tarlac package” of a daily wage of P450 plus benefits, including free meals and lodging, plus travel to and from Hacienda Luisita. They were also promised P7,000 cash advance in three tranches.