BAKUN, Benguet, Philippines –Tension has erupted among residents of Barangay Gambang here after the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) issued a mining permit to Royalco Philippines to explore 1,442 hectares in the village.
In a consultation called by local officials on Friday, members of the Gambang Indigenous Peoples Association and Community Organization (Gipaco) clashed with land owners who welcomed the exploration.
Gipaco members, most of them farmers, assailed the MGB’s decision to issue the permit despite what they said was the community’s rejection of the project.
No less than 8,975 farmers and agricultural workers are pinning their hopes of finally getting land under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in the event the Supreme Court (SC) junks the already invalidated stock distribution offer (SDO) implemented in Hacienda Luisita.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said Monday these farmers and workers work in 14 plantations in Tarlac, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Iloilo and Davao del Sur.
The KMP said the biggest is still Hacienda Luisita, which has 4,916 hectares of land covered by the SDO and beneficiaries numbering 6,296.
The Hacienda Luisita SDO was approved on Nov. 11, 1989, or more than two years after former President Cory Aquino announced her agrarian reform program that would cover all plantations producing a variety of crops.
At five members per household, the total number of people affected is about 50,000. (Read full article, click here)
CARPER FOR HACIENDA LUISITA MOVEMENT
August 13, 2010
Hacienda Luisita farm workers, together with a broad coalition of farmers, farm workers, agrarian reform advocates, civil society, academe, legal experts and church figures today came out in full force to denounce the Hacienda Luisita compromise deal and President Aquino’s hands-off policy on the matter.
“The compromise agreement now being railroaded by the Cojuangcos ensures that the abject conditions in the massive plantation will remain the same, and even worsen,” declared Renato Lalic, President of the Farm workers Agrarian Reform Movement in Hacienda Luisita (FARM).
Together with other representatives from the CARPER for the Hacienda Luisita Movement, FARM and luminaries such as Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, Atty. Christian Monsod, Akbayan Rep. Kaka Bag-ao and other groups called on PNoy to get off the fence and fulfill his promise to see Luisita ‘redistributed within five years’, as he promised during the campaign.
“PNoy will condemn the Luisita beneficiaries to a lifetime of servitude and worsening poverty if he chooses to stay mum and in doing so, legitimize the compromise deal,” added Bishop Pabillo. “This goes against the promise of change and of following the righteous path that PNoy said would be the trademark of his administration.
“Such sweet promises now leave a bad taste in the mouth given PNoy’s inability to rise above his own personal interests,” added Bag-ao.
“The bitter reality moreover is that the compromise agreement has the imprint of coercion written all over it,’ added Lalic.”This agreement did not go through the requisite process of broad consultations and thorough review by the beneficiaries themselves.”
Lalic said that there have been reports of confusion among those who signed the agreement on just how much cash payouts they would receive, how much land would be given to each and the very list of the beneficiaries itself is suspect and has not been validated.
“The signatures being gathered by HLI is without an informed consent, forged as it is by dubious representation for the farmer and farm workers,” added Lalic.
FARM members, beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in Hacienda Luisita boycotted the compromise agreement and have instead called on the implementation of CARPER in the disputed sugar hacienda. CARPER provides for compulsory acquisition of lands and eliminated spurious schemes such as the SDO to ensure effective ownership of the land by farmers themselves.
“It is therefore crucial for the Supreme Court to lift the restraining order against the Presidential Agrarian Reform council resolution invalidating the SDO and subjecting Luisita to coverage under CARP,” added Atty. Christian Monsod.
Monsod said, “the SC should not even hear this case filed by the Luisita management for the recognition of this compromise deal because this should fall under the jurisdiction of DAR.”
Monsod will represent FARM which is one of the petitioners in the Supreme Court case when it resumes oral arguments on August 18. Monsod together with H4HLM and FARM will file a motion for the SC to refer the compromise deal to DAR while the SC rules on the SDO issue.
“A resolution unfavorable to farmer beneficiaries will definitely haunt him for the next six years,” warned Bag-Ao. “PNoy said pwede na ulit mangarap, but does that mean poor Filipinos can dream about anything except owning their own land?”###
For inquiries, please call Ms. Joann Fernandez of Rights Network at 09198007010 and Mr. Eugene Tecson of Centro Saka, Inc. at 09287389071.
By Thin Lei Win
for TrustLaw, a Thomson Reuters Foundation Service
June 19, 2010, Monday
BANGKOK (TrustLaw) – When Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III, son of two democracy heroes, was sworn in as the Philippines’ fifteenth president on June 30, he pledged to tackle two pressing issues – corruption and poverty.
For sceptical land rights groups and activists, his approach to agrarian land reform, which he failed to mention in his inaugural speech, will be a test of how serious he is.
They say the slow progress of land reform is one of the major reasons for rural poverty and social injustice in the largely agrarian country. It is also one of the causes of a 40-year-old Maoist insurgency that has killed more than 40,000 people. (for More, click on Good Governance Article – Activists sceptical about land reform under new Philippines president – TrustLaw)