As peasants commemorate the anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita (HLI) massacre today, research group IBON notes that land distribution during the first year of the Aquino administration is slower than the previous administrations.
The administration’s average monthly Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) land distribution accomplishment during its first year in office of 9,866 hectares (has) falls behind even the Arroyo government’s monthly DAR land distribution accomplishment during its first year in office 10,426 has.
As of June 2011 it also had the least average monthly DAR distribution compared to the administrations of Corazon Aquino (14, 142 has), Fidel Ramos (23, 389 has) and Joseph Estrada (11,113 has).
The research group adds that the rampant cancellation of document titles, land use conversions and foreign land deals further undermine efforts for land reform. According to the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon, a farmers’ group in Central Luzon, land reform program under the current administration saw a massive cancellation of certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs), certificates of land transfer (CLTs) and emancipation patents (EPs) in many towns of Bulacan, Pangasinan and Tarlac where the HLI is located. This includes up to 1,928 hectares of land in Nueva Ecija where various non-agricultural projects are underway.
IBON also expressed concern over the classification of Hacienda Luisita as an industrial estate under the Central Luzon Development Plan (CLDP). The plan dismisses demands to surrender Luisita, run by the Aquino-Cojuangco family, to the more than 10,000 farmworkers who have tilled and made the hacienda productive through the decades.
According to IBON, land distribution must translate to land being transferred to the tiller for productivity and in support of the people’s needs. The Aquino government's slow pace in land distribution coupled with its aggressive bid to lease the country's productive land to investors makes the future of land reform in the country bleak, said the group.
Earlier, IBON reported government’s plan to allocate almost eight million hectares for cash crops and agribusiness development-- this is aside from the tens of thousands of hectares of land currently leased to foreign agribusiness and non-food ventures. (end)