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JuicoPE - Agrarian Reform Revisited

JuicoPE - Agrarian Reform Revisited

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Published by J. O. M. Salazar

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: J. O. M. Salazar on Feb 09, 2010
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02/09/2010

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 Agrarian Reform Revisited
Philip Ella JuicoIt is regrettable that several lives were lost and many more were injured in the clashes between rallyistsand police-military personnel last Tuesday at Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac as a result of the deadlock in thenegotiations between management and laborers of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT). As people of peace, we certainly condemn all forms of unnecessary and excessive use of force by anyone. Theinvestigation of the incident should be allowed to go on freely and independently and should be finishedas soon as possible. Once finished, a fair trial must be held and people convicted for them to pay for theirnegligence, incompetence and/or wickedness for exposing unsuspecting thousands to such real danger fortheir own ends. What makes the whole incident rather ironic is that all of the dead and injured come from the poorersectors of society. These poor are the very same people who are supposed to be government’s and civilsociety’s partners in implementing a true and functioning agrarian reform program. It cannot be arguedthat one of the reasons for the agrarian reform program being a key social justice measure of the CorazonC. Aquino presidency from February 25, 1986 to June 30, 1992, was, to integrate the rural poor into a new democratic and consultative order. The other objectives of the program were to fast track thedevelopment of the countryside and promote rural industrialization and thus provide the non-military solution to the insurgency problem.But before reason gets lost and is drowned in the highly emotional environment, it might be worth our while to look closely at the facts if only to help prevent anarchists from sowing further discord and fromconfusing a people who are, very often, influenced by non-informative sound bites and fleeting images.The first fact that has to be pointed out is that the labor dispute has very little to do with the laborers/farm workers of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HCLI), but with the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT). What is at issueis the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) provisions of CAT. And the Cojuangco company involved inthe dispute is CAT which has been loosely referred to by both the public and, unfortunately, media assimply, “Hacienda Luisita.” Because of the false impressions that the problem revolves around HLI, thecompliance by the Cojuangco family with the agrarian reform law also becomes an issue. Before this isdiscussed, it might however be good to establish other important facts.HLI is the farm that produces the sugar cane that is later milled by the CAT. It is owned not just by theCojuangco family but also by a corporation called Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI), which is in turn owned by stockholders composed of the Cojuangco family, Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) and about5,300 Farm Workers and Agrarian Reform Farm worker Beneficiaries (FWB). In short, the 5,300 FWB’scollectively co-own a portion of HLI, in this case about 33 1/3 per cent.HLI was formed to comply with Republic Act 6657, otherwise known as the Comprehensive AgrarianReform Law of 1988 or CARL or CARP (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program) Law. The schemethat was used was the Stock Distribution Option (SDO). The basis for the SDO is found in among others,Section 2 of the CARP Law that states, “The agrarian reform program is founded on the right of farmersand regular farm workers, who are landless, to own directly or collectively the lands they till.”In addition, Section 3 of the same law states that agrarian reform means the redistribution of lands… andall other arrangements alternative to the physical distribution of lands such as production or profitsharing … and the distribution of shares of stock which will allow beneficiaries to receive a just share of the fruits of the lands they work.” In brief therefore, SDO is allowed under CARP as a mode of compliance with the law and that both the Cojuangco family and the 5,300 FWB’s who overwhelmingly and voluntarily agreed to such a scheme in two referenda in May and October 1989, complied with the law.In the May 11, 1989 referendum, 92.9% of the then 6,296 FWB’s signed the Memorandum of Agreement(MOA) that spelled out the intent of all parties to comply with CARP. On October 14, 1989, a higherpercentage, 96.27% (5,117 out of 5,315 FWB’s) chose SDO over the actual, physical redistribution of theLuisita land. On November 21, 1989, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), which includes

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