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DAR’s wishful thinking on Luisita row

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LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “…‘Love your neighbor as yourself’…” (Jesus Christ, our God and Savior, in Matthew 22:39, the Holy Bible).

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO 4,000 LUISITA WORKERS WHO WILL NOT RECEIVE LANDS? Can anyone from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) tell us what it plans to do with some 4,000 of the 10,000 farm workers of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) who will not be receiving any part of the vast estate as a result of the Supreme Court decision directing the distribution of the Hacienda’s 5,000 or so hectares of land?

Will these 4,000 or so farm workers who will not be given lands be provided with other jobs by the DAR or by the government? Or, will they simply be ejected from the Hacienda by the 6,000 farm workers who will become the new landlords themselves in Luisita as a result of the Supreme Court decision?

Is anyone even thinking of the future of these farm workers, their families and their children who, while they were workers of the Hacienda, were provided with free electricity, free rice rations, free education, free residential lots, free hospitalization and medical care and a 3% share in the Hacienda’s annual gross income? What will happen to them now? Where are they going to get their sustenance in the days to come?

DAR’S WISHFUL THINKING ON LUISITA ROW: Of course, DAR Secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes is saying that the Hacienda’s 4,000 or so farm workers who will not be given lands from the estate will remain stockholders of HLI, thereby implying that the company will continue employing them or providing benefits for them.

With due respect, this is mere wishful thinking. The fact is that Hacienda Luisita is earning---and is therefore able to provide for its thousands of farm workers---only as a result of its using the 5,000 or so hectares of land for production activities. But these are the same parcels of land due for distribution.

Consequently, once the Hacienda lands are finally distributed, it is going to be deprived of its means of production so it will cease to earn. If it is no longer earning, it will no longer be in a position to provide for the farm workers who will remain stockholders of HLI, either for their dividends, or for the benefits it used to give to them. The question of course is, will the DAR come to their rescue and give to them what the HLI was previously giving them?

20,000 LUISITA FARM WORKERS AND FAMILIES TO BE DISPLACED: If the DAR has no answer to the questions we are raising here, is it justifiable for it and its officers to be insisting on distributing HLI lands only to one group of Hacienda farm workers, but leaving out another group without anything at all?
If the DAR has no plans to take care of the welfare and the future of the Hacienda farm workers who will not be given any lands at all, was it not its obligation to inform the Supreme Court that while Luisita lands may finally be distributed as a result of its landmark decision, bigger problems may arise because some 4,000 farm workers (who could easily multiply to about 20,000 individuals, at the rate of five persons per one farm worker family) will in turn be deprived of their very lives?

Is it possible that the DAR just closed its eyes on the deprivation and want and difficult lives these 4,000 farm workers may suffer as a result of their inability to receive lands from the estate? Was it simply concerned about appearing successful in having the Luisita lands distributed, and was without regard to the possibility that the lives of the 4,000 would become destitute?

by Atty. Batas Mauricio




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