Monday, September 30, 2013

Luisita farmers receive land titles

TARLAC CITY-An early Monday light to moderate rains failed to dampen the enthusiasm of 84-year old Benigna Escaño-Mañalac of barangay Pando in Concepcion town as she welcomed a historic week.
Accompanied by her children and on wheelchair, she patiently waited at the village-covered court for the prize she had won in a raffle more than a month ago.
It’s neither cash nor any appliance. It’s the title of her individual lot within Hacienda Luisita, which she and hundreds of others in ten barangays of Tarlac province had been fighting to have for almost three decades.
Escaño-Mañalac and around 600 of her neighbors where the first batch of farmer-beneficiaries of the vast sugar estate to receive the certified true copies of their Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
“Finally its ours. I never expected to see it happen in my lifetime. I thank President Benigno Aquino III for fulfilling his promise,” Escaño-Mañalac said in Kapampangan as she receives her CLOA from Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio Delos Reyes.
Her family received a total of seven CLOAs as her children also became laborers of the Hacienda.
“We intend to plant in our lands. We need the support of the government for the start-up. I hope they will be able to help us,” she shared.
Luisita is composed of the villages of Cut-Cut, Bantog, Balete, Asturias, Lourdes, and Mapalacsiao in Tarlac City; Parang, Pando, and Mabilog in Concepcion; and Motrico in La Paz.
DAR has identified more than 6,000 farmworkers who are qualified to become agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Each one shall own farm lot with an area of 6,600 square meters from the total area of 4,099 hectares up for distribution.
“Under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, beneficiaries will have to pay their awarded land for a period of 30 years. In the case of Luisita, beneficiaries will pay P730 per year or P61 per month for the first three years; P1, 410 per year or P118 per month for the 4th and 5th year; and P2, 770 per year or P230 per month from the 6th to the 30th year,” Delos Reyes disclosed.
As to why the farm lots were determined through a raffle, Delos Reyes explained, “the Hacienda is a plantation wherein the workers here in 1989 are farm workers. This means that they have no specific farming areas. As such, draw lot is the fairest way to distribute the land.”
The awarding of copies of CLOA for other claimants are scheduled on October 1 for Motrico, October 2 for Lourdes, October 8 for Parang, October 9 for Mabilog, October 10 for Bantog, October 15 for Cutcut, October 16 for Asturias, October 17 for Balete, and October 18 for Mapalacsiao. (Carlo Lorenzo J. Datu)


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