MANILA – Hacienda Luisita farmworker-beneficiaries (FWBs) stormed the office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Quezon City Thursday to protest what they call a ''hoax land distribution."
In a statement, the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) said the administration of President Benigno Aquino III ''is unlawfully wielding its clout to evict and disenfanchise farmers, and ultimately retain control of Hacienda Luisita'' despite an earlier ruling of the Supreme Court.
On November 22, 2011, the SC ordered the distribution of almost 5,000 hectares of Hacienda Luisita to 6,296 farmworker-beneficiaries.
In the decision, 10 Supreme Court magistrates voted to compensate the managers of Hacienda Luisita based on a 1989 valuation.
The valuation based on 1989 rates would mean that relatives of President Aquino would be paid P40,000 per hectare or around P200 million instead of P1 million per hectare or P5 billion as petitioned by Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI).
The SC also reiterated its earlier ruling ordering HLI to pay the 6,296 farmers a total of P1.33 billion.
AMBALA chairperson Florida Sibayan said under the current administration, Luisita's ricefields and agricultural areas have been ''brazenly transformed into walled garrisons."
"Luisita is under a reign of terror and impunity,'' Sibayan said.
AMBALA claimed the DAR "has consistently disregarded the farmers' pleas for free land distribution, collective ownership and recognition of their breakthrough bungkalan (tillage) campaign."
"Aquino's 'daang matuwid' rhetoric is an empty slogan to cover up his family's crimes against farm workers and the people. This hoax land distribution cost the Filipino people at least Php 471.5 million in public funds. Still, land and justice remains elusive to us Luisita farmers,'' the group said. – with a report from Kori Quintos, ABS-CBN News