DAR’s Survey in Hacienda Luisita Unbelievable

Press Release
June 20, 2013
Source Verification: Florida Sibayan
Acting Chairperson: AMBALA
CP no. 09293201477

DAR’s Survey in Hacienda Luisita Unbelievable

The Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) described DAR’s announcement of the amount of land to be distributed in Hacienda Luisita as unbelievable.

How could we trust DAR’s word when it reneged on its promise it made in October 2012 that AMBALA would be involved in the surveying of the land to be conducted by F.F. Cruz, belied Florida Sibayan, acting chairperson of AMBALA. She added that in said agreement 3 members of AMBALA would accompany the said firm to every barrio to be surveyed, but not one pushed through.

There is also no truth to the assertion of DAR which appeared in the Official Gazette on April 23, 2013 that AMBALA and ULWU attended the ocular inspection of the entire Hacienda Luisita landholding on February 21, 2013. It’s all blatant lies.

In fact, it was not DAR which facilitated a meeting before that held in Max’s restaurant but Peping Cojuangco. He was surrounded by his blue guards which intimidated delegates from AMBALA and United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), some of whom did not bother to attend the meeting before the ocular inspection. AMBALA and ULWU were never shown the so-called orthophoto maps of the entire landholding.

Other than this, AMBALA and ULWU were never invited to witness the field segregation survey conducted from March 8 to March 14, 2013.

In addition to these, we know of no cemetery added in the agricultural lands after 1989, AMBALA”s chair lamented. The DAR should instead provide the farmworker beneficiaries a copy of the present survey and the one done on or before 1989. And if these are still contestable, AMBALA should have the right to consult a survey firm of its own to verify this, Ms. Sibayan added.

The DAR announced that only 4,099 hectares of land would be distributed to the farmworker beneficiaries while another 468.49 hectares would be excluded.

AMBALA is never informed of what DAR is doing in Hacienda Luisita. DAR’s insincerity and continuous maneuvers to favor the Cojuangco’s in the land distribution process has made us vigilant and assertive of our rights, Sibayan added.

DAR’s maneuvers include bloating the list of farm worker beneficiaries: attempting the latter to sign promissory notes twice; deducting the land to be distributed; increasing the valuation of the land to be compensated to the Cojuangco’s; sabotaging the auditing process; and pushing for sugar block farming which would help maintain control of the planters to the land.

Other than these, there is ongoing militarization in the Hacienda so that the farmworker beneficiaries would agree to these lopsided conditions.

If DAR is still insisting on clinging to its target despite all of these, DAR’s main benefactor, President Aquino whose family owns the estate can boast in his upcoming State of the Nation Address in July 22 that he had accomplished land distribution in Hacienda Luisita.

Group hits PH Saudi consulate for excluding 880 stranded OFW’s for repatriation

Press Release
June 17, 2013
For reference: Lito Bais, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura Chairperson 09082882749

Group hits PH Saudi consulate for excluding 880 stranded OFW’s for repatriation   

Manila activists today assail the exclusion of 880 stranded OFW’s for repatriation that encamped in front of the Philippine consulate in Riyadh, KSA since April this year. The militant groups also said the limited service made by the PH consulate was to save its face from its lackluster performance to help stranded OFW’s return in the Philippines.

In a statement the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura blasted the attempt of the PH consulate in KSA to exclude some 880 stranded OFW’s on its list to be repatriate or transfer to other employers. This was despite an actual headcount report by members of migrant advocate Migrante International to the consulate; it struck down the 880 OFW’s from 1,018 to only 138 on its report to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila.

“The PH consulate in KSA should not deprive OFW’s who want to go home or work to other companies. There are no possible gains they can get by leaving almost 900 of them on a dire situation.  Documented or undocumented, they should be treated equally. These people need the government’s consular’s aid, by right they should receive all the assistance in full capacity to speed up the process of their repatriation or transfer of work” UMA said

UMA calls on the government to order the PH consulate in Riyadh to immediately amend its list of stranded OFW’s in the area from 138 to 1018. At the same time the militant farm worker based group also calls for the investigation against the PH consulate’s slow action and discrimination against the stranded OFW’s.

UMA further said that the government should be put to blame ultimately as it continuously to drive away Filipinos out of the country to find work. Many of these OFW’s comes from. humble farmers’ family in the countryside in which the increasing lack of job opportunity persists. Lack of lands to till was the main reason why OFW’s opt to choose the life away from their families in return of decent salary which the government failed to offer.

“Labor conscription to another country manifest the lack of job available in the country especially in the countryside were 75% of the population lies on agriculture. That is why not a few OFW’s gamble even if they are undocumented workers in the process” UMA also said in a statement

“Time is not on the side of stranded OFW’s, less than a month to go; the Saudi government’s 90-day grace period will expire. Yet the government consulate in Riyadh has the gull to sit idly, confident and not a care in the world on the fate of its clients outside their wall over the tent city. We highly recommended that the Manila government should step to the scene and make sure that our stranded OFW’s should get what they deserve whether they are documented or not” the statement ended

DAR Desperate to Include 2 More Ineligible Parties in Auditing Process of Hacienda Luisita

Press Release
June 14, 2013
Source Verification: Gi Estrada
Media Officer: Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)
CP no. 09166114181

DAR Desperate to Include 2 More Ineligible Parties in
Auditing Process of Hacienda Luisita

Desperate to tilt the balance in choosing an accounting firm in the auditing process of Hacienda Luisita in favor of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI), the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) now wants the Supreme Court (SC) to add two more ineligible parties in said process. These are Luisita Industrial Park Corporation (LIPCO) and Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC).

The DAR included this in their urgent motion and manifestation to the SC recently.

LIPCO is owned by the Cojuangco’s while RCBC got 500 hectares of land from HLI as payment of its debt. RCBC also occupies a disputed land inside the Hacienda because it has not converted this for more than 5 years already. Under existing laws, this should be distributed to the farm worker beneficiaries.

In fact, Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) through its lawyer had already filed two petitions for the revocation order on the conversion order of RCBC and on the cease and desist order on RCBC’s fencing of its disputed land. This has been un-acted upon for over a year now by DAR and the reason given is that because it is still being studied thoroughly.

Surely both LIPCO and RCBC will side with HLI if the Supreme Court acts positively on their motion.

AMBALA for its part reiterates its earlier position that it also submitted to the SC that:

HLI being the party to be audited is deprived of the right to select or choose the auditing firm that will conduct the audit of its own books. This is to maintain the independence of the accounting firm and regularity of the accounting process.

The farmworkers’ choice and not HLI’s should be taken into consideration. It is on behalf of the farmworkers that the audit is being conducted. They are the beneficiaries of the 1.33 billion pesos. They should be the proper party to approve the selection of the accounting firm and not HLI.

This includes excluding LIPCO and RCBC in the selection process. Clearly DAR is desperate to salvage the auditing process because of its subservience to the Cojuangco’s and Aquino’s who own HLI.

Farm Workers in Hacienda Luisita File Motion in Supreme Court to Direct DAR to Expedite the Distribution of the Land to Them

Press Release
June 11, 2013
Source Verification: Lito Bais
Chairperson: Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)
CP no. 09082882749

Farm Workers in Hacienda Luisita File Motion in Supreme Court to Direct DAR to
Expedite the Distribution of the Land to Them

Farm workers under the Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) today filed a motion to the Supreme Court (SC) through their counsel a comment to the motion filed earlier by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and to direct the latter to fully implement SC’s November 22, 2011 decision.

Essentially the motion would like the Supreme Court to act on the following:

1.            Deny DAR’s request to modify the arrangement prescribed for the selection of auditing firm;
2.            Deny DAR’s request to transfer the audit process to another government agency or to a third party.
3.            Order DAR to engage Ocampo Mendoza Leung and Lim, the audit firm of choice of the farmworkers, to audit HLI and Centenary Holdings.
4.            Order DAR to expedite the distribution of the land to the farmworkers;
5.            Require DAR to cover 4335 hectares and other parcels of agricultural lands of HLI instead of 3396 hectares and distribute the same to the farmworkers.
6.            REQUIRE DAR to explain the discrepancy in the number of hectares valued by Land Bank and the total number of hectares due for distribution.

According to Jobert Pahilga, legal counsel of AMBALA, the DAR is raising trivial and inconsequential matters to the SC with regards to the auditing process.  At the same time it is not raising a howl of protest to the valuation made by the Land Bank of the Philippines which shows that only 3,396 hectares are to be distributed to the farmworkers instead of 4,335.

In addition to these, the valuation placed on the landholdings is too high. It is almost P70,000.00 per hectare from P40,000.00 original valuation in 1989. The number of beneficiaries seemed bloated. And more importantly, it is more than a year that the decision was rendered by the SC yet, the lands have not yet been awarded to the farmworkers.

This has always been the position of AMBALA and the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA). That DAR has sabotaged the auditing process by not acting on any of the motions of the farm worker beneficiaries and only listens to the position of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) even if it should not take part in the selection of the accounting firm because it is the entity to be audited.

DAR has time and again announced that the land to be distributed to the farm workers would be less than what the Supreme Court ruled, because those that are to be deducted are allegedly common areas. And with regards to the valuation process, it publicly stated that the Land Bank of the Philippines has its own calculating formula without stating this in public.

As such AMBALA is urging the Supreme Court to act favorably on our motion as what it had done on November 22, 2011 and April 24, 2012.

———————————-

Executive Summary

HACIENDA LUISITA INCORPORATED,
Petitioner,

– versus –                                   G.R. NO. 171101

PRESIDENTIAL AGRARIAN REFORM COUNCIL, ET AL,
Respondents.
x – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – x

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
(of the Comment to DAR’s Urgent Motion and Manifestation)

On May 27, 2013 DAR filed a motion to the Supreme Court seeking clarification on the following issues: (1) the meaning of the phrase “approved by the parties” in the portion of the 22 November 2011 Decision of the Honorable Court regarding the audit of the 1.33 billion pesos proceeds for the sale of 580 hectares. According to the public respondents, they construed that to mean unanimity or consensus of all the parties to the case namely, Hacienda Luisita, Inc., Ambala, Farmers for Agrarian Reform, Inc (FARM) and/or Noel Mallari, and Supervisory Group of Hacienda Luisita, Inc.; (2) the identification of the parties who should approve the selection of the accounting firm. According to the public respondents, Ambala supposedly wanted or sought for the disqualification of HLI from the process of selecting the accounting firm to conduct the audit; (3) the role of the DAR in the audit process. According to the public respondent, DAR was merely the facilitator in the auditing process and has no authority to resolve any and all motions filed by the parties; and (4) the nature and extent of the auditing period.

The DAR also wanted to recuse itself from facilitating the auditing process as it states that it is incompetent and has no technical expertise to conduct the process of selecting an auditor, including providing assistance in the evaluation of the proposals and in the determination of the identity of the accounting firm to render the special audit required. It has further alleged that the process of selection of an auditor has been marked with numerous conflict and disagreement with some parties even going to the extent of alleging that DAR is partial.

Ambala’s Comment:

Who are the parties to approve the selection of the audit firm?

It should be the farmworkers.  But the DAR is bent on including HLI as among the parties that will approve the selection of the auditing firm. It allowed HLI to participate in all the proceedings regarding the audit of the 1.33 billion pesos.

HLI wanted to have its own auditor to audit its books.

But the farmworkers had already approved Ocampo Mendoza Leung Lim and Co to conduct the audit. Hacienda Luisita Inc objected to it.

And the DAR did not approve the selection of the farmworkers because of HLI’s objection and instead filed a motion to the Supreme Court.

HLI being the party to be audited is deprived of the right to select or choose the auditing firm that will conduct the audit of its own books. This is to maintain the independence of the accounting firm and regularity of the accounting process.

The farmworkers’ choice and not HLI’s should be taken into consideration. It is on behalf of the farmworkers that the audit is being conducted. They are the beneficiaries of the 1.33 billion pesos. They should be the proper party to approve the selection of the accounting firm and not HLI.

It is not Ambala that delays the process but DAR

On whether unanimity or consensus of the parties is required in the selection of the auditing firm

On 12 April 2013, all the parties including the HLI agreed on the eligibility criteria for the auditing firm that will conduct the audit.

On 17 May 2013 the parties voted on what firm will conduct the audit. Ambala, ULWU, FARM, Noel Mallari, and Supervisory Group except HLI voted for Ocampo Mendoza Lim and Leung to conduct the audit.

DAR did not approve the choice of the farmworkers because of HLI’s opposition

The opposition of HLI to the choice of the farmworkers should not have been given due weight by the DAR.  Accounting standards dictate that the firm to be audited has the least say on which accounting firm should audit its books.

DAR should not assert unanimity in the choice of the accounting firm. The farmworkers’ organizations have already made a choice. DAR should respect their choice.

Clearly, the DAR by its actuations shows that is biased in favor of HLI.

On the role of the DAR in the audit process

The DAR itself claims that it is INCOMPETENT to supervise or even to facilitate the audit process. That is a stinging rebuke by the DAR of its own self!

It is under DAR’s jurisdiction and it has an obligation to see to it that the P1.33 Billion is properly accounted for.

On the nature and extent of the audit

The DAR also wanted the Honorable Court to clarify the nature and extent of the audit period of the special audit to be conducted.

This is a question of fact that should be best left to the discretion of the auditing firm. As a matter of fact, HLI should be the one to raise this issue and not the DAR.

The DAR wanted to tie the hands of the accounting firm as to the extent of the audit. Undoubtedly, this will favor the HLI for it will delimit the scope of the audit.

DAR FAILED TO FULLY IMPLEMENT THE 22 NOVEMBER 2011 DECISION OF THE SUPREME COURT

The DAR has harped so much on the decision of the farmworkers to appoint OMLL to audit the books of HLI but its silence is deafening on the survey of the land and its valuation which favors the HLI.

The SC decision mandates distribution of 4,335 hectares to the farmworkers.

The valuation made by the Land Bank of the Philippines shows that only 3,396 hectares, more or less, are to be distributed to the farmworkers.  The valuation is P70,000 per hectares.

Missing is 938 hectares. The valuation if higher than the P40,000.00 valuation in 1989

The DAR is not raising a howl of protest on this.

NEWS LINK: Farmers give LP new tag: Landlord Party

Farmers give LP new tag: Landlord Party

By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Jun. 10, 2013

http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/06/10/farmers-give-lp-new-tag-landlord-party/

Farmers on Sunday called the ruling LP the Landlord Party under a “haciendero” President who made genuine land reform elusive on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

The farm workers belonging to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilippinas named the “agrarian crime lords” as President Benigno Aquino III, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Interior and Local Governments Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Senator Franklin Drilon, all top officials of the Liberal Party.

KMP secretary general Antonio Flores said the LP bosses were behind the “worsening” of the country’s land reform program.

In 1989, under the late President Corazon Aquino, Abad was the“hatchet man” for the Aquinos and the Cojuangcos for a stock distribution scheme in Hacienda Luisita, after he took over from then Agrarian Reform Secretary Miriam Defensor Santiago, who resigned due to her opposition to the stock plan.

Abad then proceeded with the distribution of “worthless certificates that did not even show any dividend,” Flores said.

In 1990, also under Cory Aquino, then Justice Secretary Drilon issued DOJ (Department of Justice) Opinion No. 44 stating that lands already reclassified into residential, industrial or commercial use or purpose before June 15, 1988 are not covered by CARP.

“Drilon’s DOJ Opinion 44 alone excluded millions of hectares of lands from distribution and resulted in the reduction of land for distribution from the targeted 10.3 million hectares down to 7.8 million hectares,” Flores said.

“Drilon had saved for many landlords some 2.5 million hectares that deprived the farmers the rightful claim to own land,” he said.

“The DOJ Opinion 44 was upheld by the Cory-appointed Supreme Court in the Natalia Realty case. Drilon’s anti-peasant opinion paved the way for the rampant, massive, and indiscriminate conversion of agricultural lands (nationwide),” the peasant leader said.

Roxas’ family used Section 10 of the CARP providing that lands with 18-percent slope are exempted from CARP “to evade distribution” of the 311-hectare Araneta estate in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, Flores said.

Former Agrarian Reform Secretaries Ernesto Garilao and Horacio Morales, in 1995 and 1998, respectively, decided to place Hacienda Araneta under CARP coverage.

“Like the Cojuangco-Aquinos, the Araneta-Roxas clan in 2003 managed to overturn the DAR’s decision covering the more than 311-hectare Hacienda Araneta in Bulacan using the provisions of the sham CARP itself,” Flores said.

“Today, more than 1,000 peasant families are in the teeth of displacement due to the Aquino government’s plan to build the Metro Rail Transit 7’s intermodal depot and residential-commercial components over the 311-hectare Hacienda Araneta in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.”

The farm workers accused President Aquino of land grabbing and brokering for his family by legitimizing the illegal claims of the Cojungco-Aquino over a 289-hectare Camp Gregg Reservation camp, which the farmers claimed had been planted to crops by their forefathers since the Spanish colonial times.

“Like President Aquino, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas, and aspiring Senate President Franklin Drilon, are all similarly responsible for their agrarian crimes against the peasantry.”

Flores said the non-land transfer schemes like the SDO, together with DOJ Opinion 44 and the exemptions provided by CARP resulted in the outright denial of the rights of farmers to own the lands.

“The Filipino peasantry cannot expect the Liberal Party-led Aquino administration to implement genuine land reform and the free distribution of lands. The LP is nothing but a ‘Landlord Party’ with inherent class hatred to the peasantry,” Flores said.

Today, the hacienda farm-workers plan to lift their camp-out at the Department of Agrarian Reform and proceed to Mendiola near Malacañang to demand from the President the immediate distribution of his hacienda and other haciendas across the country.

NEWS LINK: Tension up as troops enter Luisita

Tension up as troops enter Luisita

Philippine Daily Inquirer
Friday, June 7th, 2013
TARLAC CITY—Militant farmers in Hacienda Luisita here accused the military on Friday of harassing them to compel them to form into block sugar farming units as soon as they receive their agrarian land allocation this month.

Lito Bais, chair of the United Luisita Workers Union and leader of Ambala (Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid ng Asyenda Luisita), said truckloads of soldiers motored to Barangay Asturias on June 5 to seek out Ambala leaders.
Bais claimed that a bigger group came on June 6, agitating the farm workers.

But it was an alleged plan by the New People’s Army to bring guns and explosives into villages inside Hacienda Luisita that prompted the military and police to undertake a two-day operation there, an Army official said.

The more than 6,000-hectare estate cuts across three towns with several villages.

No militarization

Maj. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, chief of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division based in Nueva Ecija, denied the Ambala allegation that the sugar estate owned by the family of President Benigno Aquino is being “militarized.”

Bais complained that soldiers dug up the property near the houses of Ambala leaders Mary Jane Taruc and Gil Palaganas. When villagers asked, the soldiers advised them and the village chief there that they were looking for buried guns.

Bais said the timing of the military buildup coincided with a report that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) had asked farmer-beneficiaries to form into farming blocks to help increase the profitability of the sugar they grow as soon as they receive their certificates of land ownership awards.

List of beneficiaries

The DAR has completed the final list of beneficiaries and announced the distribution of lands this June at the behest of the Supreme Court, which upheld in 2012 a decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council in 2005 to distribute the lands in Hacienda Luisita.

The Supreme Court decision was believed to have been steered by ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona.

“Our troops acted on intelligence reports. They were there for a purpose,” Catapang told the Inquirer by telephone on Friday.

He said a company of soldiers has been stationed in Hacienda Luisita since the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to prevent communist rebels from regaining control or influence over the estate.

About a hundred soldiers and police officers were deployed for the two-day operation, which failed to detect communist rebel activity at the hacienda, a military report said. Jo Martinez-Clemente and Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

NEWS LINK: Truckloads of soldiers arrive in Hacienda Luisita

Truckloads of soldiers arrive in Hacienda Luisita
http://www.remate.ph/2013/06/truckloads-of-soldiers-arrive-in-hacienda-luisita/#.UbGcb-enrbc

Jun 7, 2013

THE peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) who are on their third day of camp-out today blamed the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for the massive deployment of soldiers and escalating harassment of farm workers in Hacienda Luisita, the vast sugar estate owned by President Aquino’s family.

Reports reaching KMP office said that “the other day, June 5, combined elements of the military, police and agents of the National Bureau of Investigation aboard five vans, one car  and one military truck went to Barangay (village) Asturias inside Hacienda Luisita. Yesterday, June 6, two truckloads of soldiers from the 31st Infantry Battalion arrived in the same barangay.”

“Last June 5, soldiers from the 31st IB are looking for AMBALA leaders Lito Bais, Gaudencio Halili, Mary Jane Taruc, and Gil Palaganas. The soldiers also dug up the land behind the houses of Ambala members looking for alleged firearms,” says KMP secretary general Antonio Flores. AMBALA stands for the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid ng Asyenda Luisita, the organization of farm workers of Hacienda Luisita.

“Obviously, the ongoing massive deployment of soldiers in Hacienda Luisita forms part of the DAR’s clearing operations for the Aquino government’s planned grandiose propaganda stunt this month,” says KMP secretary general Antonio Flores referring to the DAR’s planned distribution of certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs)  to supposed farm worker beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita.
Flores said “the massive deployment of soldiers inside the President’s hacienda is aimed to harass and intimidate supposed farm worker beneficiaries.”

“The continuing militarization, harassment  and human rights violations inside Hacienda Luisita are part of the pro-Cojuangco Aquino government’s ploy to deny farm workers their rights to the lands and evade land distribution,” says Flores.

“While the DAR continues to make a big hype over the so-called distribution of lands and is very busy campaigning for the sugar block farms, they are consciously concealing the truth over the lofty valuation and high amortization to be paid by the farm workers,” he said.

The KMP was referring to the Land Bank of the Philippines’ valuation of 3,394 hectares that costs P230,646, 777.49 or P67,957.21 per hectare. On May 6, 2013 the LBP issued a “certification of deposit” amounting to 34, 051, 861.13 for the acquisition of 497 hectares as compensation for the landholdings of landowner Hacienda Luisita Inc.

On the other hand, the DAR’s promotion of sugar block farms between 30 and 50 hectares each that will be managed requires farmers to enter into partnership, contract growing, joint ventures, foreign funding  and loans.

Flores maintained that “under the guise of providing so-called support services and maintaining the economies of scale, the DAR paved the way for the President’s family to control the whole process of production. It will give the Cojuangcos and their dummies power to dictate on farmers what crop to produce like sugarcane, where and when to plant, and where to sell their produce.”

“Controlling the cycle of production is tantamount to controlling the lands,” the KMP leader stressed.

Farmers’ Groups Condemn Military Harassment of Leaders and Agricultural Workers in Hacienda Luisita

Press Release

June 7, 2013
Source Verification: Lito Bais
Chairperson: Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)
CP no. 09082882749

Farmers’ Groups Condemn Military Harassment of Leaders and Agricultural Workers in Hacienda Luisita

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) condemn elements of the 31st Infantry Battalion for harassing its leaders and members since June 5, 2013.

This is meant to intimidate them not to make any protest actions when the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) would distribute the Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA) anytime this June in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Said military elements are looking for Lito Bais, chairperson of UMA and acting president of United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), and AMBALA officials from Barangay Asturias, Maryjane Taruc, Gaudencio Halili and Gil Palaganas.

This is after elements of the 31st IB dug a hole in the property of Maryjane Taruc on June 5 which led to the destruction of their goat shed. They did not show any search warrants for this.

AMBALA, ULWU together with the Alyansa ng mga Magsasaka sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) plan to conduct a protest action against this military harassment in the afternoon of June 7.

The harassment started on the night of June 5 when five vans, 1 car, and 2 truckloads of soldiers together with policemen and NBI agents went to Barangay Asturias allegedly to retrieve a body of an armed person.  Last night June 6, 4 truckloads of soldiers from the 31st Infantry Battalion (IB) went again to Barangay Asturias and the residents were informed that they would return on June 7.

According to Lito Bais, the ongoing harassment is being done to silence them into submission. They have been consistently protesting the maneuvers of the DAR to frustrate their ownership of the lands to be distributed to them and to preempt any protest actions when the CLOA would be distributed to them this June.

This comes at a time when the government would celebrate the 25th anniversary of the pro-landlord CARP this June 10. Hacienda Luisita is the barometer of the government’s land reform program and military harassment on its showcase before the anniversary only shows for whom land reform really is.

UMA, AMBALA and ULWU are calling for the end of military harassment and the pull-out of military and CAFGU detachments inside the Hacienda.

DAR Not interested in Auditing of Hacienda Luisita Inc.

Press Release
June 6, 2013
Source Verification: Lito Bais
Chairperson: Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)
CP no. 09082882749

 

 DAR Not interested in Auditing of Hacienda Luisita Inc.

 

The main reason why the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) sought the Supreme Court’s opinion to clarify the auditing process of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) is because it is really not interested in opening the accounts of HLI to public scrutiny.

 
This was the assertion made by Angelito Bais, chairman of Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU).

 

DAR had already sabotaged the auditing process by only taking into consideration the opinion of the management of HLI which is owned by the President’s family.  In seeking the SC’s opinion, DAR now wants to expand its role to include the authority to decide and not only to facilitate the auditing process.

 

This includes the nature and extent of the audit activity and period.  However, this was already scrapped in the April 12, 2013 meeting held in Tarlac under the heading, proposed methodology.  The final criteria agreed upon all the parties included principle of independence, overall capabilities of the firm and professional team assigned.

 

In other words, DAR would want to resurrect a closed issue favorable to the management of HLI which had already been decided upon including by the representative of said company. It wants to make sure that it would limit the role of any independent accounting firm that would audit HLI’s books.

 

The Supreme Court should take notice of DAR’s blatant lie in seeking clarification on its role in the auditing process. DAR is not interested in conducting a genuine audit because it is beholden to the President whose family owns HLI.

NEWS LINK: ON AUDITING ISSUE OVER HACIENDA LUISITA — Farmers assail DAR

ON AUDITING ISSUE OVER HACIENDA LUISITA
Farmers assail DAR

By Ding Cervantes
http://punto.com.ph/News/Article/17595/Volume-6-No-145/Headlines/u-ON-AUDITING-ISSUE-OVER-HACIENDA-LUISITA-u-br-Farmers-assail-DAR
May 30, 2013

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga- A farmers’ group debunked yesterday the claim of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) blaming farm workers in Hacienda Luisita of conflict over the selection of the firm to audit the Cojuangco-controlled Hacienda Luisita, Inc. (HLI) and Centenary Holdings Inc. (CHI).

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng PIlipinas (KMP) assailed “as proof of bias against Hacienda Luisita farm workers” the DAR’s move seeking the Supreme Court’s intervention on the impasse over the selection of an accounting firm.

“The farm workers are united in their choice of the Ocampo, Mendoza, Leung, and Lim (OMLL) firm to handle the auditing,” said KMP secretary general Antonio Flores in a statement.

The auditing requirement was in connection with the order of the Supreme Court in 2011 to distribute Hacienda Luisita lands to the farm workers, specifically its order to the hacienda management to also give them some P1.3 billion as their share in the sale of some 500 hectares of hacienda lands to third parties.

Earlier, Agrarian Reform Sec. Virgilio Delos Reyes said: “We wish to put on record that it is the disagreement among parties concerned, and not the DAR, that is the cause of the delay in the audit process.”

Flores said “the DAR’s move seeking intervention from the Supreme Court on the issue of identifying which firm will audit HLI and CHI is not a simple issue of indecisiveness and incompetence on the part of the DAR.”

“It concretely shows the DAR’s bias against the farm workers and puppetry to the President and the Cojuangco family,” Flores said.

“Delos Reyes should stop covering his puppetry to the Cojuangcos by blaming the parties’ so-called disagreement. The farm workers are united in their choice of auditing firm,” he stressed.

Flores said “giving Cojuangco companies the power to choose Cojuangco-friendly auditing firms smacks of conflict of interest. Aquino’s DAR cannot be trusted.”

“We challenge the Sereno-led Supreme Court to immediately dismiss, not to legitimize or even dignify this DAR-Cojuangco maneuver to evade payment of the P1.3 billion debt of the President’s family to the farm workers,” Flores also said, referring to the order of the Supreme Court.

The three accounting firms which have expressed interest in taking on the special audit include OMLL; Reyes, Tacandong and Company; and San Agustin and Company.

Still, the KMP reiterated calls for “zero compensation” for the Cojuangco-Aquino family which controlled the hacienda since 1957.

KMP insisted on “free distribution of Hacienda Luisita to farm workers” noting that “the President’s family enriched themselves for almost six decades of control over the lands.”