A MILITANT peasant group said on Sunday Hacienda Luisita farmers will join the protest march today to the Batasang Pambansa where President Benigno Aquino 3rd will deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona) to expose the “grand design” of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Cojuangco family to deceive farm workers.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) issued the statement after DAR Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes defended the “tambiolo” or raffle system to distribute farm lots to beneficiaries of sprawling plantation.
Delos Reyes praised the raffle is the fairest and most transparent method while the KMP ridiculed the system as “unscientific and idiotic.”
“Delos Reyes and the Aquino administration’s ‘tambiolo’ land reform is obviously designed to deceive and divide the ranks of Hacienda Luisita farm workers,” KMP secretary general Antonio Flores said.
“In full noontime show style, the DAR enticed the farm workers by raffling the names of beneficiaries that will surely ‘win’ a piece of paper called land allocation certificate. This outright deception was followed by the forced signing of the Application to Purchase and Farmer’s Undertaking or promissory note under oath,” Flores said.
He called delos Reyes “the hatchet man in the Cojuangco-Aquino’s ‘grand design’ to deceive Hacienda Luisita farmworkers. He arbitrarily disregarded the farmworkers’ demand for collective ownership of the lands.”
“Collective ownership could prevent the re-concentration of lands to the hands of the Cojuangco-Aquinos. Unfortunately, the DAR disregarded this demand by the farm workers. The farm workers were left by the DAR with no other choice and were forced to accept the ‘tambiolo’ scheme under threat of disqualification should they refuse.”
Flores said the deception “was coupled by intimidation and coercion,” referring to the more than 200 heavily armed police watching over the proceedings.
He debunked the DAR secretary’s justification that the raffle was necessary since the Luisita workers were unlike tenants on rice and corn lands.
“Farm workers in plantations like Hacienda Luisita are given assignments depending on the planting cycle in a year. They are not tenants. They have no fixed land to till, and their tasks vary from time to time, depending on the operational needs of the hacienda owners or plantation managers,” delos Reyes said.
Flores said delos Reyes’ argument “is the very same line used by the Cojuangcos in evading the conditionality of the Central Bank-guaranteed loan in 1957 that Hacienda Luisita, after ten years, will be distributed to farmers under then Ramon Magsaysay government’s social justice program.”
He reiterated the KMP’s call for the “zero compensation of the Cojuangco-Aquinos and the free distribution of Hacienda Luisita.
“The farm workers have long paid for the lands and the Cojuangco-Aquinos have enriched themselves for almost six decades of illegal control and monopoly of the hacienda,” he said.