DAR warns farmers over Luisita land deals

Posted at 04/25/12 9:57 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on Wednesday warned Hacienda Luisita farmers against making deals on the land they will be awarded.

Some farmers have confirmed that businessmen have already taken an interest in their share of the estate.
The unidentified businessmen allegedly seek to either buy or lease farmers' share of the land.

"Ang sabi sa akin, kung ano daw yung pwesto ko. Gusto raw sa tabi ng highway para tayuan ng eskwelahan. Ayaw ko ibenta, pinaglaban ko ito. Pero yung iba, hindi ko masisi," said farmer-beneficiary Ronald Sacay.

Other farmers admitted that they have already reached an informal agreement to use their portion of the land for sugarcane production that will be leased to a financier.
Officials of the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Hacienda Luisita (AMBALA) said this is the reason why they're pushing for a collective land title for their members.

"Iyang problema na yan, hindi na maaalis yan," said AMBALA chairman Felix Nacpil, Jr.

The DAR, however, such transactions on Luisita lands are spurious.

"Mahirap iyan. Hindi yan kikilalanin ng DAR," said DAR Undersecretary Anthony Parungao.

The DAR explained that these deals are illegal and will fail to protect farmers.   

Year-long wait?   
The DAR, meanwhile, said the census on farmer-beneficiaries and the distribution of land could take up to a year.

"Masalimuot itong proseso. Sana maintindihan nila," Parungao said.

Still, farmers remain ecstatic over the Supreme Court's decision giving them the land.

They gathered Wednesday and again expressed their gratitude for the ruling.

One of them, Silvia Ramos, has documents to prove that her late mother was one of the beneficiaries.

"Kasama ko pa ang nanay ko noon, nagra-rally kami sa Maynila," she said. "Patay man siya, at least nandito ako para pakinabangan." - report from Niko Baua, ABS-CBN News; ANC