April 26, 2012
For Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan, Chairman of the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food, and Social Justice and Rural Development, land distribution is only the first step to social justice for the farmers of Hacienda Luisita, but it is not enough.
“The bigger challenge now would be to make sure that the farms become viable, profitable, and sustainable for the farmers and their families,” Pangilinan points out. “Otherwise, they will just sell their land and then we’re back to zero as far as securing the farmers are concerned.”
He continues, “Data forwarded to the Committee on Agricuture state that only about one-third of agrarian reform communities have been successful. Others have sold their land or have remained unable to transform their lands into profitable farms.”
News reports have confirmed the fact that as early as now, some Luisita farmers have already been getting purchase offers for their parcels of land.
“Farmers from Hacienda Luisita, as well as our other agrarian reform communities, need support services such as organizing farmers into cooperatives, providing them credit and crop insurance, linking their produce to the markets, giving them technical assistance and access to the latest technology and know-how, and so on.”
Pangilinan also points out that aside from sugar, the Luisita farmers, with help from the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Agriculture, should look into other high-value crops that can be planted in the area.
One of Pangilinan’s flagship programs as chairman of the agriculture committee and co-chairman of the Congressional Committee for Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM) is Sagip Saka, an advocacy that aims to make modern agriculture sustainable and profitable by mobilizing stakeholders and giving agricultural communities greater access to capital, markets, technology, infrastructure, and other interventions.
“As a high-profile agrarian reform community, Hacienda Luisita can be the model for how true agrarian reform ought to be carried out in our countryside. But all stakeholders will have to work together to ensure that this does not become just another lost cause. Our farmers have waited so long for this, and it is unacceptable that they continue to suffer now that they finally have a chance to succeed with their own land.”
“Land redistribution if not supported by other critical services will simply be redistributing poverty, turning an organized enterprise into a disorganized community of impoverished farmers. This we cannot allow to happen,” Pangilinan concludes
Image Source: Inquirer.net