ANTIPOLO City, Nov. 29, 2011—With the fresh and favorable developments in the Hacienda Luisita case, the farm-workers in the 6,000-hectare Cojuangco sugar estate are now gearing for the more ‘intensified’ bungkalan or collective land tilling to make the idle lands productive.
The lands, that once had been the area of bloodshed and tears, into a field of life as vegetables and other farm produce are expected to increase the livelihood of the former tenants of the hacienda.
In a statement, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) chairperson Lito Bais said the intensified bungkalan is but a manifestation of the much stronger struggle for land, life and rights by the sugar workers and that it would be the start of the complete takeover of the hacienda by the tillers, who had waited 50 years for them to own the disputed sugar plantation.
“With the fresh tactical victory,” Bais said, referring to the recent Supreme Court decision, “we are more determined to make this land viable for tilling at no cost. We’re calling for DAR [Department of Agrarian Reform] to speed-up the process of land distribution. We [had] already submitted to DAR the list of FWBs [farm-worker beneficiaries] in our 2003 and 2005 petition against the implementation of SDO [stock distribution option], and I don’t see any reason for the delay of land distribution,” Bais said.
While there is still ‘friction’ between the farm-workers and other private entities that are into the Hacienda Luisita dispute, the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Hacienda Luisita (Ambala) said that they would continue the bungkalan, especially with the 500 hectare land owned by the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) of the Yuchengcos, wherein they grew vegetables for their consumption and for market sale.
“It (bungkalan) is part of our militant assertion as we learned that the Cojuangco-Aquinos won’t easily give up the hacienda as per the news reports are concerned. We will expand the bungkalan, from the RCBC land to the other parts of the hacienda that are for distribution,” Bais said. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]