GETTING the land — not landing in jail — was the hope Alexander Celis nurtured when he and other Negros farmers trekked recently to the Land Registration Authority (LRA) office in Quezon City. The main reason for their trip was merely to convince President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to speed up agrarian reform in a Negros sugar plantation being linked to her husband, First Gentleman Jose Miguel ‘Mike’ Arroyo.
The 35-year-old Celis says the 157-hectare Hacienda Bacan in Negros Occidental’s Guintubhan village in Isabela town was among the pieces of agricultural land owned by the Arroyo family. In 2001, the President promised to distribute this and other Arroyo landholdings to farmers under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
HAPPINESS AND contentment radiate from Bernabe Buscayno these days, but there was a time when he would wake up thinking this day would be his last. In the mountains where he fought a guerrilla war, death was just always an illness or a bullet away. As a political detainee years later, a resigned Buscayno came to believing his isolation cell would be the very last place he would see in his life.
BGY. TINANG, CONCEPCION, Tarlac – Farmer Loreto Rivera has been tilling the soil here for the past 30 years, and it shows on every inch of his thin, bent, and sunburnt body. Now 63 years old, he knows almost every family in this barangay of 2,000 people.
BGY TINANG, CONCEPCION, Tarlac – When President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo last week began her six-year term, her inaugural address had one glaring omission: it made no mention of land reform.
But it was an omission that was barely noticed. To many, and especially to the government, land reform is practically a done deal, a program nearly complete, and about which little more need be said.