Luisita farmers forced to sign notes at gunpoint

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Two different versions of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) marked the signing by the Hacienda Luisita farm workers of the land promissory notes.


The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) yesterday assailed the DAR for forcing Hacienda Luisita farmworkers to sign promissory notes allegedly at gunpoint.

The KMP said that “more than 200 police and special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams, fully armed whose presence was found intimidating to hacienda beneficiaries, stayed throughout the literal drawing of lots, or the distribution of lots to farm worker beneficiaries through a raffle drum or tambiolo, that was conducted by DAR  Thursday in Barangay Cutcut.”

“The DAR, with the help of heavily armed police, is forcing  the Hacienda Luisita farmworkers into the scheme designed by the Cojuangco-Aquinos to divide the ranks of the farmworkers and evade land distribution,” said KMP secretary general Antonio Flores.

“Guns and high powered rifles have been a necessary component of the DAR’s maneuvers designed by the Cojuangcos,” he said.

“These maneuvers by DAR clearly demonstrate that it is an instrument by the Cojuangcos to deny the farmworkers of their rights to the lands. The DAR cannot be trusted,” the peasant leader said.

The KMP earlier said that “the DAR’s “tambiolo” land reform shows that the Aquino government is not serious in distributing Hacienda Luisita lands to farm workers.”

“The DAR and the Cojuangco-Aquinos never run out of political maneuvers to deceive the farm workers and evade land distribution. This latest maneuver is the most stupid way we have seen so far in the DAR’s sabotage operations in the supposed distribution of Hacienda Luisita,” said Flores.

“It is an insult to the life and death struggle of Hacienda Luisita farm workers,” said Flores. “This further proves that the CARP is a sham.”

During the time of President Cory Aquino, there was also the presence of armed soldiers during a voting on whether the farm workers wanted to adopt the stock option that would have the Cojuangco-Aquino management take charge, and with the farmers holding on to the shares, instead of land.

Recent reports quoted DAR secretary Virgilio De Los Reyes saying that the allocation of farmlands would be conducted through a drawing of lots using a “tambiolo,” or a lottery drum.

He said it would be a “crucial step” in generating the Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) that would be given to qualified farm workers in Hacienda Luisita “possibly between August and September.”
But KMP’s Flores said that “aside from the reason that the identification of size and location of lands to be distributed should be closely coordinated to farm workers for smooth, orderly, and proper distribution, this imposition by the DAR must be opposed and defied because it serves the Cojuangco-Aquino’s interest to divide the ranks of the farm workers.”

The KMP reiterated calls for the “zero compensation of the Cojuangco-Aquinos and the free distribution” of Hacienda Luisita insisting that “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.”

From the government side, through its state-run Philippine News Agency,. PNA, a completely different version surface. It had many farm workers praising the DAR for giving them the land.

“Finally, we are an inch closer to our long-cherished dream of owning the lands we till.”

These were  the words that were unanimously uttered by hundreds of Hacienda Luisita farm workers who were among the first to receive Lot Allocation Certificate on Thursday morning, PNA reported.

“I am very happy, this is something we waited for so many years. Thank you to DAR and to President Aquino,” said teary-eyed and widowed 68-year farm worker Lucina Donato Aquino as she received the certificate indicating her name and lot number 1282 as a beneficiary.

“I cannot ask for more. Finally, our long-dream come true,” Rufino Agustin, 63 year-old farm worker in Hacienda Luisita said as he pin-pointed his lot number 1282 indicated in the certificate he received from DAR, went the PNA report.

The initial successful Lot Allocation Certificate distribution was led by DAR secretary De los Reyes along with other DAR officials at the basketball court in the barangay hall of Cutcut, Tarlac at 8:00am.

According to Secretary De los Reyes, the certificate were distributed to individuals via “raffle” or drawing of lots through “tambiolo” (raffle drum).

“We do the raffle to ensure that there is orderly and fair distribution of farm lots to qualified beneficiaries and also to avoid any insinuations that some beneficiaries can choose their lot locations,” he explained in a press conference at the Century Park Hotel in Tarlac.

Under the set-up, the name of qualified beneficiaries are drawn from the tambiolo while the corresponding location of their individual farm lots are digitally projected in real time in an electronic subdivision map of Hacienda Luisita.

The beneficiary whose name was called then proceeded to a designated personnel that issues the lot allocation certificate, indicating the name and lot number for the farm lot allocated upon verification.
“After receiving the certificate, the ARBs are given orientation and informed on their rights and obligations with respect to his CARP-awarded land like the amortization that they will pay for a period of 30 years at an affordable rate,” said lawyer  Anthony Parungao.

The beneficiary then read and signed the Application to Purchase and Farmer’s Undertaking (APFU) and sworn to the guidelines set therein.

The APFU is a mandatory requirement for the generation and registration of the beneficiary’s Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA), the title to be given to the beneficiary for his CARP-awarded land.

“Only those who signed the APFU will be given land,” de los Reyes stressed as he cited that CLOAs will then be forwarded to the Register of Deeds for registration and eventual distribution to beneficiaries by September of this year.

The drawing of lots in Barangay Cutcut was the first in a series of allocation activities that will be conducted almost daily until all barangays of Hacienda Luisita are covered according to DAR.

Hacienda Luisita is composed of 10 barangays in three municipalities in the province of Tarlac.
These are barangays Cutcut, Bantog, Balete, Asturias, Lourdes, and Mapalacsiao in Tarlac City; Parang, Pando and Mabilog in the town of Concepcion; and Motrico in La Paz town. In barangay Cutcut alone, there are about 645 qualified beneficiaries.

The drawing of lots in the said barangay will be finished by Friday according to the DAR secretary.
“All the qualified beneficiaries for the lot allocation activity in this barangay will be completed until Friday,” he said as he expressed satisfaction for the ease in the drawing of lots designated for every beneficiary and seen how happy and contented the farm workers as they received their certificates. Around 6,000 farm workers are qualified ARBs in Hacienda Luisita.

Each beneficiary is expected to own farm lots with an area of 6,600 square meters, more or less, from the total area of 4,099 hectares for distribution.

An additional 400.87 hectares will also be acquired under the CARP but will not be distributed, as these will be used as common areas, such as firebreaks which will also serve as access roads to the farm lots of the beneficiaries, fishponds, canals, roads, etc.

The lot allocation activities for the qualified beneficiaries in other barangays are scheduled as follows: Lourdes (July 22 & 23); Bantog (Jly 25 & 26); Asturias (July 29 and 30); Motrico (Aug. 1 and 2); Pando (Aug. 5 and 6); Mabilog (Aug 8 and 9); Parang (Aug. 12 and 13); Balete (Aug. 15 and 16); and Mapalacsiao (Aug. 19, 20 and 21).  Daily Tribune - With PNA