MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday described the exclusion of the Hacienda Luisita from the agrarian reform program as “the greatest aberration” done to farmer-beneficiaries.
Duterte said although he has “nothing against” the Aquino family, including the late President Corazon Aquino and her son, President Benigno Aquino III, he said farmer-beneficiaries should have been awarded portions of the land in Nueva Ecija.
“I’d like to state very clearly that I have nothing against the Aquino family. Yung dalawang presidente, pati ang pamilya(The two Presidents and the family). I’d like to put it on record that for the first two Aquino presidents, sumuporta po kami, ang pamilya namin sa Davao (our family in Davao supported them) because we believed in Corazon Aquino and I happen also to just…the best that was available at that time,” Duterte said in his speech during the 31st anniversary celebration of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) main office in Quezon City.
“Pero (But) the greatest aberration, if I look back in time…alam mo, kung ako naman siguro ang naging malapit lang naman makapag bulong (you know, if I could only suggest), to make the suggestion na (that) will not irritate yung sinasabihan ko…alam mo yung (the person I’m telling it to, you know) the greatest aberration sa (in) land reform was the Philippines was declared…the whole of the country.. as a land reform program area pero tinanggal nila ang Doña Luisita (but they excluded Dona Luisita,” he said.
Duterte recalled the bloody Hacienda Luisita massacre on November 6, 2004, where union farmers and activists launched a strike pushing for land reform but were violently dispersed by police and soldiers in Mendiola, Manila.
“Far and in between the years that it was fighting…I mean the tenants, marami ho ang namatay (there were a lot who died). A lot of people died…invested blood, just to realize, until late today, yung mga lupa na dapat sa kanila (the land that should have been theirs),” Duterte said.
Duterte bared that during his 2016 presidential campaign, he encouraged land reform because he commiserated with farmer-beneficiaries.
He reminded hacienderos (big landowners) that “there is a time for everything”, including a time “to live simply”.
Meanwhile, Duterte encouraged the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to study the land reform program “very carefully” before it is implemented.
“But if you go into a place where you want to implement land reform, do not just take it as it is. Study very carefully, the psychological, the economical, the social background sa mga taong ito (of these people),” Duterte said.
Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones earlier bared that his agency will be distributing the remaining portions of the land in Hacienda Luisita to farmer-beneficiaries in Tarlac.
In 2012, the Supreme Court ordered the distribution of Hacienda Luisita’s 4,915-hectare agriculture lands to farmer-beneficiaries. (PNA)