Friday, 27 April 2012 15:46
LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “…`Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life… It will produce thorns and thistles for you… By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground’…” (Genesis 3:17-19, the Holy Bible).
CONG. PEPING REACTS TO SC DECISION ON LUISITA: Here is a reaction directly texted to me by former Tarlac Rep. Jose Cojuangco Jr. on the latest Supreme Court order about Hacienda Luisita: “The Cojuangco family would like to convey that we will abide by the rule of law.
“We also reiterate that we have never been against land distribution. Our concern has always been for the welfare and rights of the true residents of Hacienda Luisita. We will wait for due process according to the law in determining a fair valuation.”
SOMETHING GLOSSED OVER IN HLI DISPUTE: There is something that is being glossed over in the decision upholding the distribution of Hacienda Luisita’s 5,000 or so hectares of land to its farm workers. Who among the Hacienda’s 10,000 or so residents are going to get the lands? And who will not get any land?
On the other hand, if the Supreme Court decision will mean distributing all of the 5,000 or so hectares to the 10,000 or so farm workers, each farm worker will get an approximate area of only 5,000 square meters, or half a hectare each.
Will the farm workers be able to derive any real benefit from the half-hectare land that is going to be given to each one of them? Will they be able to use the land to make them earn enough, and make life for them and their family members better than what they are having now?
CAN WORKERS WHO GET LAND ENJOY THE SAME BENEFITS? I am sure that with the lands in the Hacienda already distributed to its farm workers, the Cojuangco family will no longer continue the social welfare benefits it has been giving, for free, to the workers, like free education, free water and electricity, free rice rations during the lean months, free medical services that could easily cost millions, and sharing in the Hacienda profits to the tune of 3% of its annual gross revenues.
Will the workers be able to provide for these benefits by themselves using the land that will be distributed to them? The clear answer is a no. It will in fact be impossible to generate even a meager income from only a half-hectare land, so that it is clear that Hacienda farm workers, even if they shall have already become landowners, will become more destitute and more deprived.
With a life that will turn for the worse after owning the lands of the Hacienda, it wouldn’t be long before farm workers will be compelled to sell the lands awarded to them, as the example of many past Luisita workers, who had to mortgage or sell the lands given to them as a result of previous land reform programs, will show.
LAND DISTRIBUTION IS NOT ENOUGH: Land distribution, indeed, is not the real answer to the long-pestering Hacienda Luisita dispute. Land distribution has been shown to have made life worse for those who have been given lands. The real solution is genuine agrarian reform, through a system whereby the farmer is given not only the land but also what he needs to attain a better life for himself and his family.
by Atty. Batas Mauricio
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