Aquino kin’s horse stable workers, household helpers in list of beneficiaries

THE peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today assailed the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) preliminary list as “a shameless political maneuver by President Aquino’s family, the Cojuangcos, to keep control over the sprawling Hacienda Luisita estate and evade land distribution.”

The KMP issued the statement after the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) and the United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU), after deeper scrutiny of the “two lists” issued by the DAR said “that many of those listed by the DAR in the provisional list were legitimate farmworkers and were asked to submit so many documentary requirements. At the same time, those who were in the preliminary master list are not farmworkers, but rather horse stable and house helpers of Pres. Aquino’s relatives.”

Last October 31, the DAR issued two lists of beneficiaries, the preliminary master list which includes 5,365 potential farmer-beneficiaries who have been deemed qualified after two interviews and after submitting documents as proof of their employment.  Another set, composed of 1,221 farmers, on the other hand, has been placed on a provisional list because of deficiencies in documentary evidence that would prove the validity of their claim.

“We condemn this blatant and shameless maneuver by the Cojuangcos to deny Hacienda Luisita farm workers of their rights to own the lands,” says KMP deputy secretary general Randall Echanis.

“Obviously,” Echanis said, “this move by the DAR enjoys the blessings of no less than President Aquino.”

The KMP blamed what it described as the bogus Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) as one of the main culprits in the “highly questionable verification process” done by the DAR.

“Aquino and the DAR are obviously ganging up against Hacienda Luisita farmers and are using the bogus CARPER to place Cojuangco loyalists and dummies as fake beneficiaries,” says Echanis adding, “CARPER’s Section 5 gave landlords the power to choose the beneficiaries and provided very rigid attestation requirements that are also dependent to the landlords.”

“This clearly demonstrates how the CARPER is being used by landlords to circumvent land distribution,” the peasant leader added.

The KMP also assailed DAR Secretary Virgilio De los Reyes’ statement reminding beneficiaries that “their refusal to pay the land and failing to make it productive will be bases for delisting a beneficiary.”

“Hacienda Luisita is yet to be distributed and Secretary De los Reyes seems to be laying the ground for the Cojuangco-Aquinos anticipated maneuver for land re-concentration,” the KMP said.

“It is Secretary De los Reyes who should be reminded that the Cojuangcos are the ones who owe the farmworkers a total of P1.33 billion,” the KMP said referring to the Supreme Court decision ordering Hacienda Luisita Inc. to pay the farmworker beneficiaries “for the sale of 200 hectares of land in 1996, the Luisita Industrial Park, and the anomalous 80.51-hectare lot for the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) road network.”

De los Reyes’ pronouncements, the KMP said, also complements reports from Ambala and ULWU that “the Cojuangco-Aquino’s men are making rounds at the hacienda offering P300,000 to P350,000 to beneficiaries in exchange of the land to be awarded to them.”

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