DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Members of the Unyon ng mga Manggawa sa Agrikultura urged the Department of Agrarian Reform to press charges against Agrikulto Inc. including the lessees of distributed agricultural lands in Hacienda Luisita.
Taking cue from the statement of DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano, Danilo Ramos, secretary general of UMA, in a statement sent to media on Wednesday, said it is high time that DAR should punish financiers who “coerce, lure and swindle beneficiaries into this illicit scheme.”
Ramos recalled that on October 1, last year Mariano vowed to stop the “aryendo” system and charge them for “obstruction of land reform in Hacienda Luisita.”
“The DAR should immediately press charges against Agrikulto and other individual planters that are engaged in this illicit transaction,” Ramos said.
She said that it was Agrikulto Inc. who hired workers from Mindanao to work in Hacienda Luisita and parts of Central and Northern Luzon.
“It described itself in its employment contract with the sacadas as the owner, leaser, and manager of sugarcane lands in Hacienda Luisita, Gapan, Armenia, and Apalang,” Ramos added.
Citing a DAR validation report between March 6 and April 7, UMA said “land reform failed in Hacienda Luisita because 2,800 farm workers leased or mortgaged their lands, another 600 sold their lots to third-party buyers and 200 took part in joint venture agreements out of 5,031 farm worker beneficiaries surveyed.”
The group emphasized that under the previous land reform law, “the properties must not be transferred or sold for 10 years. Actual so-called land distribution in the Hacienda started in 2013, a year after the Supreme Court ruled in distributing the lands.”
With this, Ramos expressed its full support for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill which stipulates free land distribution and also prohibits renting of lands.
“There can only be genuine agrarian reform in the country when the farmers and farm workers have actual control over the lands and lessees are actually charged for obstruction of land reform. DAR’s decision on the aryendo aims to correct previous injustices against the farm worker beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita,” she added. (davaotoday.com)