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Finally, Hacienda Luisita farmers get CLOAs

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by Raymund F. Antonio

Yesterday was a memorable Valentine’s Day celebration for 111 Hacienda Luisita farmers who got their much awaited certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

The farmers received their CLOAs from Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, who said the Application to Purchase and Farmers’ Undertaking (APFU) should not be used as ground to disqualify them as beneficiaries of land reform.

Accompanied by other agrarian reform officials, the former peasant leader and party-list congressman distributed the land titles to the farmer-beneficiaries at the Balete Covered Court in Tarlac.

For almost four years, the farmers have been pushed out of their farms after they were disqualified in the agrarian reform program for their refusal to sign the APFU.

Each of the CLOA holder will receive around 6,600 square meters of land in Asturias, Bantog, Cut-cut, Mabilog, Mapalacsiao, Motrico, Pando and Parang, according to Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer (PARPO) Ileona Pangilinan.

“We are honored and we would humbly take the fight of farmers in Hacienda Luisita,” he declared in Filipino.

During the CLOA distribution, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) learned about the need of new landowners for state-sponsored services such as seedlings, livelihood trainings, capital support and irrigation, among others and turned over seedlings amounting to P300,000 from the Department of Agriculture (DA) to the farmer-beneficiaries.

The Hacienda Luisita farmers were promised 10 tractors to ensure the productivity of their lands.

In a press statement, DAR said a number of the 111 farmer beneficiaries have been disenfranchised by the rampant lease-back system, locally known as aryendo, in the hacienda.

“This is a big challenge for those who are in position to help their fellow agrarian reform beneficiaries to uplift them from the lease-back system,” Mariano said.

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