“The six million hectares of public and private agricultural lands that should be targeted for free land distribution to farmers must include big landholdings, haciendas and land estates that are still under the control of big landowners,” the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today said as it asked the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to clarify the coverage of lands for distribution. “It’s 2017 but haciendas remain intact.”
“Among the vast tract of lands that should be acquired and distributed by the government are haciendas that are already tilled by farmers and farm workers. These haciendas, including ‘sullied landholdings’ or lands illegally or fraudulently acquired by landlords through legal maneuvers, circumvention of agrarian reform program, use of force and violence should be subject to DAR’s compulsory acquisition and distribution,” said KMP secretary general Antonio Flores.
“Land classification should not be the sole basis for inclusion to land reform coverage. Land use conversion as a form of land grabbing has exempted lands from agrarian reform. The actual use of land, especially if tilled and cultivated by farmers for agricultural production, should be among the basis for coverage,” the KMP leader said as it urged DAR to fast-track resolution of agrarian disputes in big landholdings.
Flores said many haciendas have remained ‘untouched’ by the government’s land reform program. “The DAR has yet to complete the distribution of the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita which was ordered for distribution by the Supreme Court in April 24, 2012. Five years after the final and executory SC decision, Luisita farmer-beneficiaries do not have control over the lands, proving the ‘tambiolo raffle land reform’ implemented under the Aquino administration to be an epic failure.
Among other haciendas that should be subject to acquisition and distribution are Araneta Estate with 3,000 hectares (Bulacan), Hacienda Looc with 8,650 hectares (Batangas), Hacienda Dolores with 8,000 hectares (Pampanga), Hacienda Yulo with 7,100 hectares (Laguna), Hacienda Roxas with 8,813 hectares (Batangas) and Hacienda Zobel with 12,000 hectares (Batangas).
“These haciendas have become ‘battlegrounds of agrarian struggles’ between farmers and landlords for many years,” Flores concluded. ###