MANILA, July 17, 2013— The Catholic Church’s social action arm today expressed caution following the government’s claim that the distribution of Hacienda Luisita land will be finished by September.
Fr. Edu Gariguez of the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (Nassa) said it is a good idea but the government still has a lot to prove in its commitment to fully implement land reform.
“To see is to believe,” said Gariguez, noting that the Department of Agrarian Reform has been “inefficient” as seen in its track record.
The DAR earlier said land distribution to 6,212 qualified Hacienda Luisita farm workers is to be completed in the next two months.
In a statement, the agency said it has finished the most contentious stages in the acquisition of Hacienda Luisita under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
“I hope it’s true but I doubt it will happen (that fast),” Gariguez said.
In a report submitted to the Supreme Court, the DAR said it completed the screening and identification of the beneficiaries.
It added that a total of 4,099 hectares of land will be divided among the farm workers, which means that each beneficiary can own roughly 6,600 square meters of farm lots.
The priest said that two Nassa staff just visited the vast sugar estate owned by the family of President Benigno Aquino III last Monday and had a discussion with the farmers.
“They still have so many concerns and they are not yet convinced with how things are going on,” Gariguez said.
He said the farmers are particularly questioning the final list of qualified farmer-beneficiaries released by the DAR.
“They are also running after the more or less 500 hectare land that the DAR wants to exempt from the distribution which is not according to the court decision,” he said. (CBCPNews)