Iloilo farmers want SDO scheme nixed

- Wenna Berondo () - December 7, 2011 - 12:00am

ILOILO CITY, Philippines – Following the Supreme Court decision junking the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) at Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, local farmers are asking the haciendas here to revoke this scheme.

According to the Pangrehiyonal nga General Assembly sang Paghugpong sang mga Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras (PAMANGGAS), there are two big sugar plantations here using the SDO scheme—the Wuthrich Hermanos, Inc. and the Hernandez Sugar Plantation, Inc.

The Wuthrich Hermanos, Inc. covers 174 hectares while the Hernandez Sugar Plantation, Inc. covers 231 hectares.

“The SDO under the fake Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was designed for corporate farms, which do not involve actual land transfers but distribution of so-called ‘corporate stocks’ to farmers. The SDO gave a way for big landlords to evade land distribution and retain control of the land,” said Cris Chavez, PAMANGGAS secretary general, in a statement.

Chavez contended that DAR should revoke the SDO in the sugarcane plantations in Iloilo and immediately process land distribution to peasants and farm workers tilling the land.

The other week, the Supreme Court in a 14-0 vote ordered the distribution of almost 5,000 hectares to some 6,000 farmer beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita Inc.(HLI), the sugar plantation owned by the Cojuangco side of the family of President Benigno Aquino III.

In a 56-page decision, the 14 magistrates “recalled and set aside” the option given to the farmer beneficiaries to remain as stockholders of HLI. The SC “partially granted” the motions for reconsideration separately filed by the farmer beneficiaries regarding the option.

Currently, Hacienda Luisita has an area of 4,334.55 hectares. It used to occupy 6,435 hectares but over the years, portions of land have been sold to industrial companies.

The stock distribution plan has been in place since 1989, when HLI forged an agreement with thousands of farmers to get stocks instead of land. However, in December 2005, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council ordered the revocation of the stock distribution plan for its alleged failure to fulfill the 1988 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law’s thrust of social justice and improved lives for farmers. - THE FREEMAN

COMPREHENSIVE AGRARIAN REFORM LAW COMPREHENSIVE AGRARIAN REFORM PROGRAM CRIS CHAVEZ DISTRIBUTION FOLLOWING THE SUPREME COURT GENERAL ASSEMBLY HACIENDA LUISITA HACIENDA LUISITA INC HERNANDEZ SUGAR PLANTATION LAND WUTHRICH HERMANOS
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