Anakbayan chides solons: Don’t mislead farmers, CARPER is equally responsible for Luisita mess
Youth group Anakbayan criticized several solons today for claiming that the present agrarian reform law has resolved a legal loophole which is at the root of the current agrarian dispute in Cojuangco-Aquino-owned Hacienda Luisita.
Farm workers from the 6,000 hectare sugar estate are demanding the scrapping of the SDO, or Stock Distribution Option, and the immediate redistribution of the lands to them.
In the original CARP (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program) which was passed into law in 1988, the SDO allowed landlords to give away share of stock to their farm workers, instead of parcels of land as originally mandated by the law. The SDO in Luisita allowed management to reduce workers’ wages to P9.50 a week. Last week, it was revealed that the stocks given are valued at P1 each.
However, in a resolution filed last Wednesday, partylist representatives from Akbayan claimed that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Extension Program with Reforms, which was passed last 2008, “(recognizes) that SDO and other non-distributive agrarian reform compliance mechanisms are bankrupt, ineffective, and biased in favor of landowners”.
“Nothing can be further from the truth” said Anakbayan spokesperson Charisse Bañez.
“The same loopholes which allowed the Cojuangco-Aquinos to cheat the farmworkers still exist today”
Bañez pointed out that the CARPER did not amend or scrap Sections 3 and 31 of the original CARP, the provisions in the law which allowed for the SDO.
The youth leader called the statement ‘damage control’, citing the partylist group’s primary role in pushing for the CARP extension which was criticized by peasant groups all over the nation.
“Now that the nefarious SDO is fast-becoming the center of discussions regarding land reform, those who betrayed the Filipino farmer by foisting the CARPER on him/her are trying to whitewash the truth” said Bañez.
She reiterated Anakbayan’s support for House Bill 374, also known as the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, which was principally authored by Anakpawis representative Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano. It was originally House Bill 3059 in the 14th Congress, but was blocked by landlords in the Lower House.
“SDO, as well as every other conceivable loophole landlords might use to evade land redistribution, will be outlawed under GARB. This more than we can say for the fatally-flawed CARPER, and that is why we enjoin all other supporters and sympathizers of the farm workers of Luisita to extend their support to House Bill 374” she said.
Bañez added that the group will again mobilize to picket the Supreme Court when its hearing on the Hacienda Luisita dispute resumes this Tuesday.