Group supports CBCP’s criticism of DAR in carrying out land reform

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THE Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) is one with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) in its observation that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has been dismal in its performance in carrying out land reform.

One such concrete example is the issue of land distribution in Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI). It’s almost a year now since the Supreme Court (SC) decided on the distribution of land to farmer worker beneficiaries (FWB’s). But up to now this has not come into fruition because of the maneuvers of DAR in tandem with the Cojuangco’s and Aquino’s to delay and sabotage the process.

Recently, the DAR announced that it would come out with a final list of beneficiaries of FWB’s by this month. This includes, however, a number of non-bona fide FWB’s including those working as stable hands and in supervisory positions.

The DAR has also constantly ignored the demand of our organization together with Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) and United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) to recognize only the 1989 MOA Voters List of 5276 as its basis to pinpoint the bona fide beneficiaries.

According to UMA, the main culprit is the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER). In CARPER’s Section 5 it stipulates that landlords have the power to choose the beneficiaries and provide very rigid attestation requirements that are also dependent on the landlords.

In addition to this, UMA is calling on the Bishops to support the FWB’s call for the free distribution of their lands in HLI. In particular, that they need not pay any monthly amortization as stipulated in the CARPER. According to Anakpawis incumbent representative Rafael Mariano, this was not mentioned in the SC ruling and even in the Philippine Constitution.

We fervently hope that the CBCP will support the FWBs in HLI in their struggle to finally get back their lands for free and attain social justice just as they are criticizing the DAR for its failures in implementing land reform.

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