The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas staged on Friday a protest at the Department of Agrarian Reform office in Quezon City and lambasted President Benigno Aquino III for the DAR-brokered real-estate deal between the President’s uncle, Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. and former Local Government secretary Mar Roxas’ relatives, the Araneta family.
More than 200 farmers from San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan and Silang, Cavite led by the KMP yesterday held a send-off protest against what it described as “President Aquino’s anti-farmer Department of Agrarian Reform [DAR]” and called for an immediate halt to the land-use conversion of two “Spanish-era estates that are epitomes of a fake land reform and fake independence.”
The farmers from San Jose Del Monte are protesting what they described as a DAR-brokered real estate deal between Cojuangco and Roxas’ relatives. More than 300 hectares of land are allegedly being land-grabbed from the farmers for the construction of the Metro Rail Transit – 7’s intermodal depot with its commercial and residential components.
On the other hand, the farmers from Barangays Tartaria and Lumil in Silang town are now facing threats of eviction in the more than 350-hectare Aguinaldo Estate owing to plans to convert the agricultural land into a high-class residential and tourism zone by the heirs of the late President Emilio Aguinaldo that include Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya, another Liberal Party stalwart.
Incoming DAR secretary and KMP chairman Rafael Mariano said that “to this day, the Aranetas, a big landlord family of Spanish origin, continue to control tens of thousands of hectares of land in Bulacan and other parts of the country.”
“This is worsened by the irony that the heirs of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, who claimed so-called independence from Spanish colonialism, are now leading the land-grabbing and eviction of farmers in Cavite,” says Mariano.
On the other hand, a Liberal Party lawmaker on Friday expressed hope that the appointment of Mariano as the next Agrarian Reform chief will bring the much needed reforms in the agency for the benefit of the Filipino farmers.
“As a farmer leader who strongly advocated for a more revolutionary agrarian reform implementation, Ka Paeng definitely makes for an interesting choice to fulfill the mandate of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and confront its adversaries,” Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said.
“It’s quite interesting because the incoming Secretary would come from the ranks of the farmers. But it’s also going to be challenging because Ka Paeng has always been critical of the law and the government. Now, he will be on the other side of the fence,” Baguilat added.
“Like Hacienda Luisita, these two Spanish-era estates are the epitomes of a fake land reform and fake independence,” Mariano said, adding: “the farmers are still bound to the land.”
“An immediate review of the anti-farmer decisions by Aquino’s DAR on the Araneta and Aguinaldo estates are in order,” Mariano said.
Mariano earlier vowed “to ensure that no farmers will be displaced from their farmland by strengthening their security of tenure over the land.”
“We will conduct a no-holds-barred review and reversal of the DAR’s anti-farmer decisions, a moratorium on land-use conversion, and a stop to the cancellation of farmers’ land ownership certificates, among others,” Mariano said.
“We will immediately review the sham ‘tambiolo’ land reform implemented by the DAR in Hacienda Luisita. This review will also include the pending petition by farmers for the revocation of the land-use conversion issued by the DAR in favor of the Cojuangcos of Hacienda Luisita,” the veteran peasant leader said.
However, the incoming DAR secretary maintained that “still, it is important for the Filipino peasantry to mainly rely on their organized strength and collective actions in asserting their rights to the land.”