National News: TFM Negros Hails SC Hacienda Luisita Verdict
Task Force Mapalad-Negros (TFM-Negros) believes the Supreme Court (SC) decision reaffirming its previous ruling on the distribution of the 4,915-hectare Hacienda Luisita would lead to a quicker pace of agrarian reform.
TFM-Negros president Alberto Jaime said the verdict would now compel the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to act quickly on the distribution of the vast sugar estate that should have been transferred to the farmers and sugar workers 50 years ago.
DAR, Jaime stressed, should now take over the property and determine with finality the list of beneficiaries, majority of which are members of militant unions belonging to United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Luisita (Ambala) and the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL).
Ambala, ULWU and AMGL had called for the immediate distribution of the property among farmers and workers, but Jaime said the record of DAR in distributing land has been dismal, to say the least.
"We at TFM-Negros have been urging Agrarian Reform Secretary Gil de los Reyes to work quickly and he has been going around the country to look into the case folders of many areas covered by agrarian reform," Jaime said.
"Yet, in Negros Island alone, the DAR performance has been dismal and the record for the first quarter of this year showed that the distribution of land to the beneficiaries has not even reached 10 percent," he noted.
However, Jaime stressed, "the SC ruling should serve as a reminder to De los Reyes and hundreds of DAR officials in Negros Island and other provinces in the country that the time has come for them to work and redeem their pledge to serve the farmers well."
Jaime congratulated the farmers and sugar workers of Hacienda Luisita for struggling firmly and arduously and winning in the end.*