The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) today said that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) deliberately made sure that the Lorenzo-Cojuangco-Aquino owned Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) agricultural lands would be exempted from land reform.
Then OIC DAR Secretary Rosalinda Bistoyong on Nov. 28, 2017 made the eventual decision on this when she approved the application by CAT for exemption from land reform. A few months after this was certified final and executory by DAR Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance (BALA) Director Maria Celestina Tam on Feb. 6, 2018.
Immediately or less than 2 months after or on April 4, 2018, the CAT sold 290 hectares (has.)of the exempted 424.4862 has. land to Ayala Land, Inc.
But earlier on this, DAR ignored the April 24, 2012 decision of the Supreme Court to find other agricultural lands that would be subjected to land reform especially in areas owned by CAT. It had to wait for it to be subjected to a Petition for Coverage.
It only agreed to include Tarlac Development Corp. (TADECO) lands in barangays Balete and Cutcut when the residents asserted their right to own it even when they were subjected to many violent dispersal operations by the police and goons; some were illegally arrested and detained; and many of them were charged with several criminal offenses.
But it remains officially undistributed up to the present and then DAR Sec. Rafael Mariano junked TADECO’s bid to exempt it from land reform during his term in office.
Going back to CAT lands, on February 18, 2019, it informed 800 households to vacate their domicile and demolish their dwellings and any infrastructure that they had erected or face legal action after 60 days of the sugar mill’s notice.
The residents of the 60.47 hectares property which the CAT wants to repossess is populated by field and mill sugar workers, factory workers, retired workers and informal workers. A number have stayed there for more than 50 years and have invested their homes there.
According to John Milton Lozande, secretary general of UMA, there are also many questions on the contents of the Nov. 28, 2017 DAR Order exempting CAT from land reform. Other than that, there was a report by DAR to the Supreme Court that it distributed lands in Brgy. Central.
1. Most of the lands that CAT admits it owns in its annual report and which is supposedly agro-industrial in nature state that these are idle lands. 330 has. are declared not used for business and operation, and another 202 has. are held for sale and development thru its subsidiary Luisita Land Corporation (LLC).
Under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) converted lands left idle after 5 years, should be returned to DAR for distribution. What was sold to Ayala was part of the 330 has. of land.
Other than that, from our data, there are 382.5451 has. owned by CAT in different areas and not just the 202 has. which CAT admits in its annual report.
2. In its 10th compliance report to the Supreme Court on April 14, 2015, the DAR stated that it distributed through land reform more than 1,031 has. in two titles including in Brgy. Central
3. There are inconsistencies in the DAR Order, on p. 4, the PARPO Certification issued by Eng. Precy Landingin, PARPO I/Head dated 6 Jan. 2017 stated that “no actual occupants in the area is observed”.
4. CAT’s notice is contrary to DAR’s order which stipulates that disturbance payments should be given to tenants, farm workers, or bonafide occupants.
5. As such it is a violation of DAR’s order which also stipulates that it can cancel or withdraw the order for misrepresentation of facts as what it did when it issued out its Notice for eviction on Feb. 18, 2018.
But more than the above, President Duterte supposedly distributed Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA) in Hacienda Luisita recently, but in fact, people are being evicted from their lands by the Lorenzos-Cojuangcos-Aquinos with the President’s blessings.
Source verification: Gi Estrada, Media Officer (0917-945-0552)