The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) will press charges against politicians and individuals who act as aryendadors and have thus, violated the agrarian reform law.
This was the statement issued by Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael V. Mariano soon after he declared as null and void the buying and leasing of lands awarded to Hacienda Luisita farmers.
RA 6657, or known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law prohibits any sale or disposition of agricultural lands.
According to Mariano, RA 6657 is clear on its prohibited acts, that awarded lands may not be sold, transferred, or or conveyed except through hereditary succession or to the government.
“The aryendo system must stop. Those ‘financiers’ or aryendadors who coerce, lure, and swindle land reform beneficiaries must be charged for obstruction of land reform in Hacienda Luisita,” said Mariano.
He added that “most farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita were forced by circumstances to give in to aryendadors because they did not get any support from past administrations—who covertly supported the resistance and manipulation of landowners.”
In March 7 to April 7, 2017, DAR conducted a month-long validation study covering some 5,031 agrarian reform beneficiaries from Hacienda Luisita.
The study revealed that about 2,841 ARBs or 45.73 percent leased, mortgaged or rented-out their CARP-awarded lands, while 617 or 9,87 percent have already sold their lots to other third party-buyers.
Some 187 ARBs or 3.01 percent were engaged in joint venture arrangements.
The study also revealed that the most common reason for leasing the awarded lands were financial difficulties and sickness in the family.
A number of respondents said that they could not afford to cultivate the lots awarded to them because of the distance from their residences.
Mariano said that most of these ARBs admitted that the last time they saw their lots was during the installation in 2013.
“We know of wide-ranging disenfranchisement of farm worker beneficiaries (FWBs) in Hacienda Luisita. FWBs who were also victimized by the rampant aryendo or illicit lease-back system utilized by ‘aryendadors’ must not be disqualified from land reform. They are victims of scheming opportunists who wish to subvert land reform in Hacienda Luisita,” said Mariano.
“We salute the determination and courage of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers. We must continue to work together to make genuine agrarian reform a reality,” Mariano concluded.