Delay in Land Distribution Allows Cojuangco Family to Sabotage Land Reform

It’s now almost two years since December 22, 2005 when the government declared with finality that the land in Hacienda Luisita should be distributed to the farm workers. Meanwhile, the Cojuangco family has not stopped in its effort to sabotage land distribution.


BY RENE GALANG
President, Asembliya ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA)
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 35, October 7-13, 2007

It’s now almost two years since December 22, 2005 when the government declared with finality that the land in Hacienda Luisita should be distributed to the farm workers. After a few months of preparatory work by the Department of Agrarian Reform to implement land distribution, the process came to a standstill when the Supreme Court granted a temporary restraining order in favor of the Cojuangco family on June 14, 2006.

But the farm workers and the people of Hacienda Luisita, asserting their historical, moral and legal right on the land, have embarked on ‘bungkalan’ [cultivation] to make the idle land productive as they await land distribution. About 2,000 hectares is now planted to rice, vegetables and other food crops. The farm workers and their families are enjoying the real fruit of their labor for the first time in their lives.

Meanwhile, the Cojuangco family has not stopped in its effort to sabotage land distribution. It allowed its henchmen and paid goons to occupy big tracts of land in several barangays, in effect depriving the rightful beneficiaries. It continues to use the military, police and hired goons to intimidate and harass the farm workers.

The Cojuangco family’s latest illegal and immoral move, in cahoots with certain DAR officials, is to fabricate a fake proposal-agreement between the farm workers and the Hacienda Luisita Inc., the hacienda’s ‘corporate owner.’ The family used two former hacienda supervisors–Jose Julio Zuniga and Windsor Andaya, and two former union officers–Ildefonso Pingol and Noel Mallari to misrepresent the farm workers in the fake proposal.

The fake proposal stipulates that the farm workers will get only 1,366 hectares and that the Cojuangco family will retain 3,549 hectares out of the 4,915 hectares covered by land distribution. The company also dangles some P20,000 each [P136 million total] for the more than 5,000 farm workers, as well as free housing.

A copy of the fake proposal is now being circulated for signing in the hacienda by the Cojuangco hirelings. But DAR secretary Nasser Pangandaman in a letter addressed to the Hacienda Luisita farm workers dated September 17, 2007 has disowned any knowledge of the fake proposal and clearly stated that he is against this latest scheme of the Cojuangco family.

The Asembliya ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita [AMBALA], the petitioner in the September 2003 petition to the DAR to revoke the stock distribution option [SDO] which eventually led to the SDO revocation, and the United Luisita Workers’ Union [ULWU] are the legitimate and genuine representatives of the farm workers in Hacienda Luisita and not the four Cojuangco hirelings–Zuniga, Andaya, Pingol and Mallari.

We denounce in the strongest terms this latest scheme by the Cojuangcos and their hirelings to mislead the farm workers, derail land distribution and perpetuate their illegal and immoral control on the hacienda land. This scheme will be rejected by the farm workers because it is entirely against what they have sacrificed and laid their lives for.

The farm workers will continue to assert their hard-fought right to till the land knowing that it is sheer foolishness to hope for genuine land reform under the present dispensation that is dominated by landlord and big business interests. We hold the Arroyo government responsible for the delay in the implementation of land distribution in the hacienda which allows the Cojuangco family to maneuver and sabotage land reform. Posted by Bulatlat

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