DAR starts process for distribution of Luisita

MANILA – The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has started the process for the distribution of the Cojuangco-owned sugar estate Hacienda Luisita.

In an 8-page compliance report, DAR said it was simultaneously taking the following procedures:

• Segregation and subdivision surveys of Hacienda Luisita lands subject to acquisition and distribution (LAD) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program; and

• The screening and validation of qualified farm worker beneficiaries (FWB).

DAR said it has conducted two rounds of interviews to screen and validate the qualified beneficiaries from May 23 to July 22 and from August 13 to August 24. Out of 8,641 persons interviewed, 5,169 were common to both the identified 6,296 original farm workers list and the list of names under the agreement with HLI for stock distribution.

DAR also reported that a contract for competent land survey for all the landholdings of HLI was awarded to F.F. Cruz Co., Inc. last September 12.

“Immediately thereafter, the consolidation, segregation, and other survey activities for Hacienda Luisita commenced. The segregation survey is projected to be completed by January 2013,” the report stated.

Invitations had also been published for the hiring of a competent accounting firm for the audit of HLI and Centennary Holdings’ books, DAR said. This is intended to determine if the P1.33 billion proceeds of the sale of the 500-hectare lot for commercial use and 80.51-hectare lot for the SCTEX road network “were actually used or spent for legitimate corporate purposes.”

Teofilo Inocencio, DAR Central Luzon director, said about 900 farm workers on the master list held by the Supreme Court, which became the basis of DAR’s list of beneficiaries, have died but their “successors in interest” were being validated.

The process of land distribution inside the Cojuangco family-owned sugar estate came after the Supreme Court ordered the DAR to distribute 4,915 hectares of land to 6,296 farm workers and scrap the stock distribution option, a scheme implemented in 1989 under which farm workers were given shares of stock instead of land.

Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes led the posting of the list of beneficiaries in Barangay (village) Mapalacsiao at noon Wednesday.

Simultaneous posting will be done in all 10 villages inside Hacienda Luisita. Printed on tarpaulin, the list will be posted for a month, within which the DAR will conduct further validation.

Last April, the high court upheld its November 2011 decision ordering the distribution of the 4,915.75 sugarland hectare to some 6,000 farmers and pegged the just compensation on the fair market value of the land to November 1989.