Up to these date and time, when Martial Law has been long since done away with, when there are no longer this and that Coup attempt made here and there, when – with some glaring exceptions – human rights and pursuant human dignity are assumed and presumed, there remains one distinct and disturbing phenomenon of shame that stands out and refuses to be simply forgotten, or simply set aside for convenience. This: Honest to goodness farmers are still denied the ownership of the land they themselves have tirelessly cultivated and continuously worked on for decades.
One distinct, infamous, and even notorious reality that readily comes to mind whenever Agrarian Reform is the subject matter of attention and concern, is the famous or rather infamous “Hacienda Luisita” – an extra huge agrarian land that remains substantially whole and intact to this date. It basically remains as an “Hacienda” that implies the private ownership of the huge farmland by this and that closely consanguine “Landlords” – a term that by itself connotes power and wealth in the hands and command of a wealthy family line. On the other hand, it distinctly means poverty and misery of the part of farmers who day in and day out sweat much to work it and make it productive. Herefrom emerges the blatant contradictory realities of hunger and want on the part of farmers vis-à-vis the wealth, power and joy on the part of the but on-looking Hacienda owners.
Specifically in conjunction with the aid “Hacienda”, there are some disgusting events and/or notorious realities that are thereto appended and still vividly remembered. It is anything but pleasant to recall them to mind – much less to make mention of them. They can be considered as the sad and saddening left-over of the previous administration – considering that the then supreme head of the State itself and close sanguine affiliates have a big stake on it.
There was the infamous Mendiola Massacre. The farmers and their sympathizers staged a big rally in the said place asking for the partition of the land they have grown old tilling and sweating for it. What they got instead were rifles mercilessly firing and killing a good number of them. Bloody and dead they laid on the street. The killers went free, the dead were buried. And that was it. Add hereto the Tarlac killings that included the death of no less than a good old Aglipayan bishop who was pro-farmer. While he had nothing worth stealing, the allegation was robbery.
There was the infamous distribution of Stock Certificates instead of farmland sought by the farmers – pieces of paper which they could neither cook nor eat, which did not provide them housing to live in and rest. What the farmers knew and were asking for was a share in the farmland – not Certificate of Stocks printed on paper with words most of them could not even read, much less understand.
There was the Impeachment of no less than the then Chief Justice who with courage and righteousness pronounced on the just distribution of the farm land. And he paid dearly for passing judgment according to what is right, true and just. The Impeachment was a “Believe it or not” event. Fast was it arranged for discussion. Fast was it tried for its merits. fast was the conviction pronounced.