The heart of the Agrarian Reform law is the good of the farmers tilling the land. No matter how the law is interpreted and applied, it should ultimately favor the farmers. As it is well said, those who have less in life should have more in law.
When the owner does anything with the land or with the farmers contrary to the interests of the latter, the intent and spirit of the law are fundamentally violated. Wherefore, whatever the owner legally does but in effect plucks out the heart of the law, the same engages in moral futility.
Agrarian Reform is a moral obligation more than a political necessity. Among other things, this means that the morality of Agrarian Reform is over and above all political considerations and interests.
To make the farmers sweat for the payment of the land while others are made the owners thereof is foul. To continuously allow a few individuals to own thousands of hectares of land with their farmers holding but a little piece of paper is unconscionable.
This precisely appears to be the case of the Hacienda Luisita. It is not enough that its farmers wallow in poverty and hunger. It is not even enough that some of them were violated and even massacred. The hacienda owners even find it necessary to continue denying work to the farmers, to allow the land to remain untilled.
But over and above all these, the hacienda owners are exerting all ways and means to continue wielding control over the land, to go on distancing the farmers therefrom. It seems that big land ownership and full land control have become addictive to those favored by such an errant arrangement.
Never mind the scandal caused by a corporation contrary to land distribution. Never mind the fear and disgust caused by Hacienda Luisita violence and murders. Never mind the long suffering farmers and their families.
More important is to keep in the hands of few individuals the blessings of vast tracts of land. More necessary is to concentrate the big wealth of nature in the big coffers of big land owners.
What a big pity!
25 September 2005