Farmers submit priority list of haciendas to be dismantled and distributed
Militant peasant groups and land reform advocates from different sectors trooped to Mendiola Bridge today demanding that the Duterte administration fully cooperates with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in expediting the crafting of a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) that should include provisions on free land distribution to farmers and the consequent dismantling of the hacienda system involving thousands of hectares of agricultural lands controlled by big landlords and oligarchs.
The NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) are expected to wind down tomorrow with the week-long fourth round of formal peace talks in The Netherlands after a shaky start and a lengthy deliberation that resulted with both parties agreeing to forge an interim joint ceasefire subject to the final signing of the CASER.
“There should ultimately be specific and categorical statements on free land distribution in the provisions regarding agrarian reform and rural development if we want the final document of the CASER to genuinely effect social justice,” said Antonio Flores, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
According to KMP, one of the chief reasons for the failure of all previous programs on agrarian reform is the refusal of past administrations to distribute land to the farmers for free. Citing data from the Land Bank of the Philippines, the group said that only one out of ten land reform beneficiaries have been able to pay the amortization cost imposed on awarded lands since the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was implemented in 1988.
KMP also said that it has submitted to the NDFP a priority list of landholdings or haciendas owned and controlled by the country’s biggest and despotic landlords and multinational corporations that would have to be dismantled and distributed for free to millions of tillers as soon as the CASER is finally signed and becomes operative.
Among those in the said list are the more than six thousand hectares of sugar land in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac which according to KMP is still under the direct control of the Cojuangco-Aquinos despite a 2012 Supreme Court decision that ordered its distribution, the 6,000-hectare banana plantation owned by the Lapanday Foods Corporation and the Lorenzos of Mindanao who are said to be co-owners as well of Hacienda Luisita, and the more than 30,000 hectares of agricultural estates owned by Eduardo Cojuangco mostly found in Negros, Isabela and Mindanao.
Also shortlisted are the following: Hacienda Looc (Batangas) – 8,650 has.; Hacienda Dolores (Pampanga) 8,100 has.; Hacienda Yulo (Laguna) – 7,100 has.; Clark Green City (Pampanga-Tarlac) – 36,000 has.; Fort Magsaysay (Nueva Ecija) – 3,100 has.; Yulo King Ranch (Palawan) – 40,000 has.; Hacienda Roxas (Batangas)- 8,813 has.; Hacienda Zobel (Batangas) 12,000 has.; Hacienda Larrazabal (Ormoc) 6,500 has.; Araneta Estate (Bulacan) 3,000 has.; Floirendo plantations (Mindanao) 8,500 has.; DMCI-Consunji logging areas (Sultan Kudarat)- 102,954 has; and San Miguel Corp. energy areas (Davao) 19,000 has.
“KMP and its allies in the workers sector and other progressive groups are part of a national movement for free land distribution that will continue to pressure the government to seriously work things out with the NDFP in addressing the root causes of the armed conflict primarily by initiating fundamental social and economic reforms through genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization,” Flores said.
KMP also called on the Duterte government, especially in the light of an impending interim joint ceasefire between the GRP and the NDFP, to immediately order the Armed Forces of the Philippines to pull out its troops in the countryside which the group said have stepped up its military operations in peasant and national minority communities since February.
“We are joined in our protest action today by our Lumad brothers and sisters who have come all the way from Mindanao to condemn the recent bombings of the AFP in their areas; the President should immediately put a stop to the continued terror attacks of the military against the people, ” Flores said.#