Monday, June 18, 2012

Agrarian Reform Program and Hacienda Luisita

Some kind of a preamble though simple and brief is in order to better situate a gross socio-economic malady long since notoriously existing in this country. On one hand, there are the farmers tirelessly tilling the land – toiling hard and sweating much while suffering from destitution and despair. On the other hand, there are the landowners – enjoying the fruits of the long and tedious labor of farmers and thereby living in boundless opulence and consummate comfort. In other words, while certain landowner dynasties act with delirious ease and live in enormous opulence, there are thousands of farmers who live in abject poverty and depressing uncertainty.

Behold the long loving utter contradiction: Wealthy hacienderos and impoverished farmers. Gloating farm owners and lamenting farm workers. Haughty landlords and abused land tillers. This atrocious phenomenon has been long existent and firmly established in this supposedly “Land of the Morning” and/or “Bayang Magiliw.” Is this really the land where the morning sun tenderly shines for everyone – or only for a chosen few?! Is this really the country that is not only lovely but also lovable for everybody or merely for some privileged and selected clans?! Is this really the land where there is “More Fun” – precisely when “Planting rice is never fun”?

It is not only depressing but also revolting when landlords are worshipped by landless farmers who do the planting, attend to the caring and doing the harvesting of their farm products – with them thereafter having barely enough to eat and less to live by. No wonder then that a past matriarchal government vowed to remedy such a gross agrarian social malady. No wonder then that the so-called “Agrarian Reform Program” was made as the centerpiece of the priority agenda of the same government. But surprise, surprise! The said government came and disappeared. The Program was said to have been acted upon and even extended to cover the agenda of present government.

But there are hitches – big ones – along the way: First, the past matriarchal government belonged to a formidable haciendero dynasty. Second, the now existing reality wherefore is that there is more than a million hectares of prime agricultural areas that prove immune to the same program. Third, the present bachelor government – a direct descendant of the matriarchal one – is a direct heir of infamous “Hacienda Luisita” that occasioned the bloody “Mendiola Massacre,” not to mention the lamentable Tarlac killings, not to say the loss of no less than a chief judicial office for a final and executor judgment dissolving the sacrosanct “Hacienda.”

As of this writing there are brewing moves among farmers who are merely insisting in having what is theirs according to law based on truth that is productive of justice and causative of peace. The dissolution of certain haciendas? Perhaps! The distribution of “Hacienda Luisita?” Well, good luck! Or it is next time! - after 2016