Thousands of farm workers have urged Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano to “immediately distribute and subdivide” 12 haciendas that are supposedly under the control of business tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr.
The 1,200 farm workers who had organized themselves into ECJ CLOA (Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. Certificate of Land Ownership Award) Holders Association went to the Department of Agrarian Reform last September 14 to remind Mariano of a demand they made to him last August 13 about ending a 19-year-old agrarian reform project of Cojuangco that they described as “fake.”
Mariano has not made up his mind on the demand.
Agricultural lands that the farm workers want distributed to them are the 4,661 hectares located in Bago and La Carlota cities and La Castellana, Isabela, Hinigaran, Murcia, San Enrique Himamaylan and Pontevedra towns in Negros Occidental.
The 1,200 farm workers became part-owners of the 4,661 hectares when Cojuangco and several other businessmen established in 1998 the South Negros Joint Venture Corporation.
They got 30 percent equity and became regular workers of the company while Cojuangco’s group has 70 percent share.
Each of the 1,200 farmworkers receives P833.00 every month as their share.
In 1998, Cojuangco announced that he would distribute the lands to the farm workers in exchange for paying him P1 for each hectare of land.
The scheme became the basis of then-President Joseph Estrada to proclaim the business tycoon as the “godfather of land reform.”
Noel Magan, president of the ECJ CLOA Holders Association, told reporters that they have withdrawn from the joint venture because each of them earns only P833 a month or a total of P10,000 a year while Cojuangco and the other businessmen gets huge amounts.
He did not say how much the Cojuangco group receives from the joint venture.
Magan said Mariano should declare the SNJVC as “illegal and unconstitutional” because it violates the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Republic Act 6657 (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) and RA 9700.