Monday, March 22, 2010

Justice in Agrarian Reform Includes Going After Illegal Conversions of Agrarian Land to Residential Subdivisions

It is worrisome to hear stalwarts of a rival political party express their eagerness to see a rushed distribution of Hacienda Luisita, particularly because of the incidence of illegal conversions of CARP farmlands into residential subdivisions such as the one discovered in Iloilo where large tracts of irrigated farm lands were alleged to be anomalously converted into a residential subdivision owned by a presidential candidate.

Hacienda Luisita is a prime piece of real estate, very much attractive to developers of commercial and residential projects. It is not surprising for developers to have a lustful eye on the property, considering the value that it has and the potential for development.

While members of some political parties expressed their concern about the Hacienda Luisita not being subject to land reform under an Aquino administration, there is also a serious basis to be concerned about illegal land conversions under and administration led by a real estate developer who has been linked to activities which have undermined the agrarian reform program.

The next administration should not only promote genuine agrarian reform, it should also be committed to protect the gains of agrarian reform and go against greedy land developers and run after those who have bamboozled farmer beneficiaries into selling their rights and illegally convert agrarian land to commercial and residential projects.

Contrary to what others seem to believe, the pursuit of justice in agrarian reform does not end with the distribution of Hacienda Luisita. It includes the prosecution of those who have been engaged in illegal conversion and the prevention of such schemes which undermine the agrarian reform program.

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