The Tarlac Provincial Agrarian Reform Office writes to clarify certain points in my mounting attacks against the Hacienda Luisita, and why it was never subjected to land reform.
The letter says that in 1989, the hacienda was subjected to land reform through a Stock Distribution Option pursuant to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL).
Before its coverage under the system, management of the hacienda required all its seasonal workers to choose from physical distribution of the property or stock distribution option. This, I was told was done through a referendum conducted and supervised by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and witnessed by radio and print media representatives.
The 7,000 workers chose stock distribution and signed an agreement with management on this choice. The agreement was forwarded and approved by the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) headed by none other than President Aquino as chairperson.
Furthermore, I was told that the tenants turned down physical distribution of the hacienda which would mean less than one (1) hectare each for them which is not enough to support a family and they would be deprived of benefits given them by management like free residential lots, educational assistance for their children and mobility assistance.
Well, critics had charged that Luisita management had supposedly coerced the tenants into accepting the stock option and reject land distribution.
In bringing up anew the Hacienda Luisita issue against Noynoy Aquino, he should not forget that among President Aquino's campaign promises when she ran in 1986 was to give the hacienda to tenants in line with an agreement her family signed with the government when they borrowed funds to buy the hacienda.
Other critics say that the biggest joke during the Aquino regime was its land reform program which applied only to lands of her political enemies which were forcibly taken over and given to tenants.
None of the former president and her choice relatives' estates were touched.
(Image from http://www.chrispforr.net/)