Presence of RCBC inside Hacienda Luisita, a puzzle, says sugar workers’ group
Sugar worker groups Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) on Thursday said they were puzzled with the presence of security guards employed by Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) inside the 6,453-hectare sugar estate Hacienda Luisita owned by the family of former President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino.
According to UMA information officer Jay Calaguing, the RCBC took over 20 hectares in Barangay Cut-Cut and the commercial bank had been telling the people that the 20-hectares were foreclosed because of the Cojuangco’s failure to pay their debts to RCBC.
Calaguing said the RCBC detailed a security unit preventing the people to cultivate the lands up to 100 hectares in the boundary of Barangay Cut-Cut and Texas.
The UMA information officer added that aside from RCBC, several banks have also filed petitions questioning the bungkalan campaign of sugar workers and poor farmers inside Hacienda Luisita so they could appropriate the sugar lands inside the Cojuangco estate as payments for the Cojuangco’s existing debts with them.
“Something fishy is going on. This is part of the sinister plot to stop the sugar workers and poor farmers from reclaiming their land rights to Hacienda Luisita lands. All kinds of maneuvers are being orchestrated by the Cojuangco family to stop the campaign for land, food and justice,” Calaguing said.
The 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita was exempted from distribution under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Instead, the sprawling sugar estate was placed under the Stock Distribution Option (SDO), a non-land transfer scheme, which converted sugar workers into stock holders and daily workers receiving P 9.50 per day without any share in the gross sales.
Calaguing said Hacienda Luisita farmworkers continue to cultivate more than 1,800 hectares of the hotly disputed sugar estate outside the framework of the 20-year old CARP, whom he said was bogus, bankrupt, pro-landlord and anti-farmer.
“The key to this success story is the determination of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers to challenge and fight the Stock Distribution Option scheme legitimized by the bogus CARP. Now, the farmworkers and poor farmers of Hacienda Luisita are reaping the fruits of their labor,” he said.
“The farmworkers and poor farmers are planting various crops in more than 1,800 hectare occupied by farmworkers like rice and vegetables. We are encouraging more farmers to join and form themselves into cooperation units to be able to cover other hectares for their livelihood. This is peasant class power in full swing,” UMA said.
UMA said the current “bungkalan” campaign has already benefited 838 families or roughly 1,676 individuals spread in the barangays of Malapacsiao (244.5 hectares), Asturias (209.93 hectares), Bantog (258 hectares), Cut-Cut (275.9 hectares), Balite (153.4 hectares), Mutrico (248 hectares), Pando (163 hectares), Texas (140 hectares), Pasajes (60 hectares) and Parang (51.5 hectares).
On the other hand, UMA is also supporting the passage of Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 3059 authored by the late Anakpawis party list Rep. Crispin Beltran and co-authored by his successor Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna party list Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casiño and Gabriela Party list Reps. Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan.
Under GARB, Hacienda Luisita will be distributed for free to farmworkers and poor farmers and with guaranteed security of tenure and strong support mechanisms to make the 6,453 sugar estate productive and responsive to the need of farmworkers, poor farmers and the Filipino public in general. #