By: Carmina Flores-Obanil and Mary Ann Manahan*

Agrarian Reform Agenda: Not P-Noy’s Priority

On CARPER’s First Anniversary
Thursday 5 August 2010 by LRAN

Again, there was no mention of agrarian reform in President Noynoy Aquino’s State of the Nation Address; there had been no reference to it either in his inaugural speech. What was there before these two occasions was confusion created by contradicting statements of businessman and Aquino’s cousin Fernando Cojuangco and Aquino himself on the proposed distribution of Hacienda Luisita, further confirming the doubts of farmers’ groups and agrarian reform advocates that Aquino’s administration will even acknowledge the urgency of the issue.

Why urgent? Even with CARPER, the window for completing land distribution, a critical component of the agrarian reform program, has become very small at five years.

The truth is Hacienda Luisita remains (and will always be, until there will be a decisive action) the litmus test of President Noynoy’s presidency. It was his mother’s chip on the shoulder and his own “ghost from Christmas’ past”. Clearly, he will not redistribute Hacienda Luisita in the near future, delivering a signal to big landowners that they can continue evading the program and casting doubt on the social justice orientation of his government. His action or inaction for this “unfinished business” is the clearest indicator of how agrarian reform will now fare in the next six years.

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5 August 2010
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