MANILA, July 23, 2013— President Benigno Aquino III may have mention the issue on Hacienda Luisita in his State of the Nation Address but it is not yet a cause for celebration, at least for a Catholic bishop.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said that respite for him is seeing that the vast sugar estate is already distributed to the farmer-beneficiaries.
“There is no real distribution until they are able to get their lands. The process is not yet over until they get what is theirs and are able to utilize it,” he said.
Pabillo chairs the National Secretariat for Social Action – Justice and Peace (Nassa) which at the forefront of the Catholic Church’s advocacy for land reform in the country.
Last week, the Department of Agrarian Reform has started identifying the lands that the beneficiaries would get.
In his SONA yesterday, Aquino said that the turnover of his family’s land will begin in September of this year.
Pabillo said that Hacienda Luisita’s distribution is long overdue and the farmers have waited too long and have suffered enough in their struggle to own the lands.
“The government has been making promises in the past. ‘Within six months’. ‘Within one year’. Those target dates have already lapsed but the lands have not been distributed yet,” he lamented.
A total of 6,212 farmer beneficiaries are expected to own farm lots with an area of more or less 6,600 square meters out of the total of 4,099 hectares of the land owned by the Cojuangco-Aquino clan. (CBCPNews)