“The inclusion of Cojuangco loyalists and dummies in the DAR’s list of beneficiaries is exactly the reason why the DAR’s so-called verification process is a scam and a barefaced maneuver by the President’s family to once again evade land distribution.”
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA — “You want names, we will give you names.”
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes should prepare himself because it has names of the horse stable hands and house helpers of President Benigno Aquino III’s relatives whom the DAR has reportedly included in the preliminary list of Hacienda Luisita beneficiaries.
The KMP earlier slammed the DAR’s preliminary list as “a shameless political maneuver” by Pres. Aquino’s Cojuangco relatives to maintain control over the sprawling Hacienda Luisita estate and evade land distribution. The group, along with the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) and the United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) have been demanding to be allowed to scrutinize the list of beneficiaries the DAR has drawn up. The farmers and farm workers organizations said that while many of those listed by the DAR in the provisional list are legitimate farmworkers, they were asked to submit so many documentary requirements that they risked being discouraged from asserting their legitimacy.
One the other hand, the groups said, many others who are 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 claims.
KMP deputy secretary general Randall Echanis expressed disgust over what they said were the “shameless maneuevers and manipulations” of the Cojuangco family to deny the farm workers of Hacienda Luisita their rights to own the land.
“Obviously,” Echanis said, “this move by the DAR enjoys the blessings of no less than President Aquino.”
The KMP also assailed 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. The group said that it’s De los Reyes who should be reminded that the Cojuangcos owe the farmworkers a total of P1.33 billion ($31.66 million), 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 of the hacienda offering P300,000 to P350,000 ($7,100 to $8,300) to beneficiaries in exchange for the land to be awarded to them.”
Names of horse-hands, hires of the Cojuangcos
In any case, the KMP said De los Reyes should strike off the names of the Cojuangco’s employees from the DAR’s preliminary list. Contacio G. Lundang, Rector G. Lundang, Antonio A. Claridad, Pedro A. Claridad, and Rodrigo A. Claridad, all of whom are in the list are all horse stable hands of the Cojuangcos’ Australia-bred horses, the KMP said.It went on to say that these individuals were only a few of the many “Cojuangco dummies” listed in the DAR’s preliminary list of beneficiaries.”
“The inclusion of Cojuangco loyalists and dummies in the DAR’s list of beneficiaries is exactly the reason why the DAR’s so-called verification process is a scam and a barefaced maneuver by the President’s family to once again evade land distribution,” Echanis said. “This proves that the Cojuangcos have no plans to let go of Hacienda Luisita. They are now using the DAR and the bogus Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) to once again deceive the farmworkers.”
Echanis said the DAR official should stop pretending that he has no direct participation in drawing up the list.